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#BookTok is Ushering in a New Generation of Readers

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIT chapter.

The new terminal of Laguardia Airport in New York has many places to purchase a book. There is a Strand Bookstore, a McNally Jackson, and book displays at every Hudson News. In all of these stores, there’s a common display. Each has one particular table with a large sign in the middle that says “BookTok.”  Even at the airport, the impact of the hashtag can’t be escaped.

“BookTok” refers to a community of people on the app TikTok who make content related to books and reading. The community began gaining popularity in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many creators made their accounts due to boredom. “I started in August of 2020,” said Ayman Chaudhary, known as @aymansbooks on TikTok. “It was like that pandemic era and I was at home and just bored.” Now, she has almost 1 million followers.

This side of social media has brought a new interest in reading to members of Generation Z. #BookTok has 112.5 billion views on TikTok. 

There are many different kinds of BookTok videos. A popular style is to just show books with no talking, while a song (usually Taylor Swift or Phoebe Bridgers) plays in the background. These videos are accompanied with captions like “Books I would sell my soul to read again for the first time” or “Books that altered my brain chemistry.” Other videos include content like a creator simply freaking out over a book that they just read.


don’t even get me started on the way she edges him 😩 #twowrongsmakearight

♬ original sound – Ayman

“I started reading when I was in middle school,” said Chaudhary. “Then I just kind of stopped in high school. The only books I read were for school.” Brittany Guy, another BookToker known as @whatbritreads online, also said that BookTok has increased her reading. “I read a lot before BookTok, but nowhere near the scale I read now,” Guy stated. “For instance, in 2019, I read a total of 60 books but that more than doubled in 2020 as soon as I invested my time and energy into BookTok.”

 The evidence of growth is in the numbers. NPD Books found that book sales increased by 9% from 2020 to 2021, as BookTok was increasing in popularity. 

BookTok’s influence has spread far beyond just the social media sphere. In Barnes and Nobles all over the country as well as in other bookstores, BookTok tables will often be displayed. These tables show off whatever the most popular BookTok reads are. Most commonly romance and fantasy, BookTok staples include It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, and the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy. “When you go into bookstores, Barnes and Noble particularly, you see those BookTok tables right there. It’s right in front of your face,” Chaudhary said. “I think that’s one way how BookTok has influenced book buying.”


you’ll all be pleased to hear im now reading back to back four stars 😌🫶🏻 #weeklywrapup #readingwrapup

♬ original sound – brittany | booktok 📚

 In addition to the tables in brick and mortar stores, BookTok web pages can also be found on the websites of various retailers, like Barnes and Noble, Target, and even the used-book mecca, Thrift Books. 

But is the influence of BookTok becoming too strong? Lexi Dembo is a 23 year old BookTok lover. “If I see a book that looks good but I haven’t seen it on BookTok, I probably won’t read it,” she said. Dembo’s experience is not unique. Many users will hesitate to pick up a book if they haven’t seen it floating around online. “At this point, whatever I’m reading has been mentioned on BookTok,” Chaudhary shared. “Whether it’s from a smaller creator or it’s a really popular book that I’m finally getting to read.”

 Even she is not sure if this is a negative or positive thing. “I’m not sure that it’s a good thing or a bad thing. But it is what it is.” Guy also weighed in on how BookTok impacts what she reads. “BookTok influences not only how much I read, but the books I choose.” 

BookTok is so much more than a hashtag. It is a community. It’s a safe space for people to go and share what they’re reading. “BookTok has changed the culture of reading massively,” Guy said. As the community continues to grow, so will the love of reading among Gen Z. 

Jools is a senior at FIT majoring in Advertising and Marketing Communications with a minor in writing. She is the President and Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus at FIT.