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Literature On TikTok: How People Create Content On The Platform

Barnes and Nobles, the largest retail bookstore in the United States, has opened a BookTok session with the most successful books on the platform for the week. Books like “Little Life’’ by Hanya Yanagihara , “They Both Die at the End'' by Adam Silvera and “The Song of Achilles’’ by Madeline Miller are always there.

The #BookTok tag has accumulated more than 7 billion views on TikTok and is made of videos with different approaches, from reviews to character cosplays.

According to The New York Times, publishers are becoming more and more aware of the literary side in the app and realizing the power of influence of content creators. Come meet five of these booktokers!

Tiago Valente (@otiagovalente)

Tiago's Favorite Book: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Tiago Valente is a reference inside BookTok. At 23 years old, he is a master's student in Literature at Unifesp, actor, writer, singer and content producer. His passion for literature started in childhood: "When I was little, my parents had a bookstore. Books were scattered all over the house. My sister and I loved to accompany our parents during deliveries and to look through books’’, he remembers.

"Reading started purely as fun and then became an object of study. In college I realized how powerful that object can be in many ways, capable of transforming us. During the pandemic it became my way of traveling and meeting other people, even if only in my imagination’’, he completes.

He started producing content in 2016 on Musically, which in 2018 turned it into TikTok. He joined the first wave of the app. "At the beginning of TikTok, we didn't have the niches yet, so everyone did a little bit of everything. There was no literature content, so I started testing ways to show books."

In the beginning of 2020, studying about content producers, Tiago realized the importance of having well defined his goals as a creator. "My manager at the time talked a lot about the importance of trying to convey my passion in the content I am making’’, explains. As a result, Tiago repainted his profile and became one of the founders of BookTok.

His profile consists mainly of two types of highly successful content: summaries and Literary Recipes. "I started to make summaries characterized by the personas in the books, I realize that this takes the distance from the public that is not an avid reader and shows that it can be something more tangible, lighter and unpretentious than what we learn in school and study for the university entrance exam. It shows that literature doesn't need to be so literary’’, tells. The Literary Recipes project is unique and innovative. On his profile board with more than 295,000 followers, he recreates classic recipes from books, such as Anne of Green Gables' chocolate bullet, Hogwarts pumpkin pie, and many others.

Transforming this production into a profession was a challenging process for Tiago. "It was a completely new world. Basically it is a micro company where I am the only employee, but it does many things. You have to produce, edit, contact the publishers, answer the comments, open a company. My year 2020 was basically focused on this’’, attest.

About his writing life, Tiago jokes: "Many people comment on my videos 'You should write a book' but I've already written a few’’. Like many young and independent writers, Tiago started on Wattpad. Then he published some short stories by Jogo de Palavras publishing house. He’s now with Burn Book Publishing, Tiago has been asked to publish some short stories and his first novel "The Counselor". The book is about a boy who has a podcast where he gives love advice while his own love life is a disaster, very much inspired by Tiago's life: "Not only will it have autobiographical traces, but whole passages’’, he says.

Ayman Chaudhary (@aymansbooks)

Ayman's Favorite Book: The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V. E. Schwab

“Me reorganizing and staring at my bookshelves instead of reading my book’’. This is the caption of the video in which we have Ayman Chaudhary, 20, based in Chicago, in front of her bookshelves.

The background audio is famous in the application and says: “It’s a full time job and it’s extremely time consuming and it’s not as easy as appearing from some people’’. Audio and caption placed together create a story. Who has never procrastinated reading by changing the layout of the bookshelf? In the comments people tell similar experiences to the one shared. This type of video is common in BookTok, humor with common situations in the reader's day to day life. "What I most like to produce is relatable book content’’, tells Ayman.

The video, which has been viewed more than 54,800 times, lasts about 7 seconds.

"In BookTok, you can be very unfilter, very authentic. You have one minute to tell the audience why you should read this book. People want information quicker, that’s why books translate well in TikTok’’, clarifies Ayman.

Jéssica Martins (@jess.martinss)

Jéssica's Favorite Book: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Jéssica is 30 years old, born in Goiás. Currently, dedicates herself entirely to the production of literary content.

"In my social circle there aren't many people who like to read. I was a bit lost. It's very interesting to be inside BookTok with several people with the same taste as you’’, she tells.

From comic books to novels, reading was always part of Jéssica's life.

However, during school her consumption of books decreased considerably because she did not identify with the books studied. "This was one of the reasons that made me start intensifying the videos on TikTok. I saw that a lot of teenagers there get stuck in their compulsory school readings. They may not like reading what school purposes, but there is a lot of wonderful reading outside of that."

This literary side has been changing the way Jéssica reads. "I read thinking: how will I be able to recommend this book to people?’’. Her spontaneous way conquers a faithful public, that the quantity still surprises her: "When I look at the number of followers I think: My God, 21 thousand is enough to fill what? A gym?’’.

Bia Matos (@mbiamatos)

Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Maria Beatriz Matos, 21, is a senior at law school, but she also divides her time producing literary content for TikTok, Instagram and most recently Youtube.

For Bia, reading is a form of escape. "I get to know new worlds, new people, fall in love, laugh, get scared. It's a way to feel new emotions that I'm not feeling in my life at the moment’’, she says.

In September 2020, Bia joined this huge community that is BookTok, and as many of them went viral very quickly. "When I saw it I was already recording video every day’’, she explains.

The Internet can be an extremely competitive environment, so feeling welcomed is a form of encouragement, which is what happened to Bia. Thanks to BookTok, she formed a group with other female content producers where they support each other mutually.

Izabela Lopes (@bellslopes)

Izabela's Favorite Book: Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling

"Only I like this book, I've never seen anyone talking about it. TikTok shows: here is a person talking about it for you to talk about too." For Bel Lopes, 26, this is BookTok.

Reading and writing are an essential part of Bel's life: ''I started writing fanfics when this name did not exist yet. My first fanfic was about how I thought Harry Potter would end."

Harry Potter has a loyal community of fans that has only grown since the release of the first book, but if it can be said, Bel is perhaps the biggest of them. It was through Harry Potter that she recovered her passion for reading when she was still in her pre-teenage years. And also discovered her career. Bel read The Deathly Hallows in the original, even though she didn't know the language well, she fell in love with it, so much that she decided to become an English teacher.  "I had a very unique experience reading Harry Potter’’, tells.

Bel already had experience with literary content production before joining BookTok. In 2012 she created a blog and an Youtube channel, thanks to her work there, she has partnered with publishers such as Universo dos Livros, the entire publishing group of Galera Record and Livrarias Curitiba, as well as publishers and authors who send separate books. "Being recognized by publishers is very nice and makes a lot of impression."

She, like many, downloaded TikTok right when she started her quarantine last year to pass the time. One day while recording a reading vlog she decided to post it on the app: "I was reading ‘Without Merit’ by Colleen Hoover and realized that one quote summed up 2020." The video went viral and now has accumulated more than 42,000 followers.

Bel values interaction with followers: ''If you open any video of mine all the comments are answered. I believe that the person took the time out of their life to comment on my video so it's only fair that I do the same. On Youtube and on the blog there are people that are with me that became personal friends", she says.

According to Bel, what bothers her about BookTok is the competitiveness: ''I read nine books in one day, I will brag about it for the rest of my life, but that doesn't mean that someone who doesn't read nine books in one day is not a good reader. With popular books we see a lot of you haven't read ACOTAR and you're in BookTok? I find this very problematic."

Bel also is a freelancer writer in Amazon with two published short stories and a novel: ''The girl’s night'' about three best friends that, according to Bel, is a text about the celebration of friendship; ''A Christmas Gift" which tells the story of a couple made up of opposites: Theo, a biggest Christmas lover, almost a Santa Claus helper, and his girlfriend, Melissa, who hates the date. But, one day she decides to make a Christmas miracle even though she doesn't believe in it.

Her book ''On Stage’’ tells the story of a singer and her best friend, a very famous actor, discovering that their friendship is more than just a friendship amidst the madness that is Hollywood.

"I think that BookTok, Booktube, Bookstagram, are there to plant a seed and take a step towards encouraging reading", concluded.

Important Notice: The favorite books of our booktokers, Tiago, Ayman, Jessica, Bia and Bel reflect the present and may change over time. Never underestimate a reader's ability to favorite several books at once.

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The article above was edited by Beatriz Cristina.

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Vitória Prates

Casper Libero '23

Estudante de Jornalismo na Faculdade Cásper Líbero. Além da leitura e da escrita, passo horas problematizando tudo ao meu redor, tagarelando sobre o mundo e devorando minha interminável lista de filmes.
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