The creative world of BookTok

6 May 2022

Written by: Georgia Tacey

Meet the creators changing reading.

Her phone sits on the windowsill while she gathers the books she’s going to feature in today’s video. She doesn’t like to think too much about what she likes to keep her book reviews spontaneous, letting the books speak for themselves.

Then the timer starts… three, two, one.

Nineteen-year-old Imogen Corfield has skyrocketed to TikTok stardom after joining the #BookTok community. Her content includes a variety of hauls, reviews and trends, all related to her love for books.

BookTok started life as a small community of TikTok creators who would share content related to their favourite books. It has now risen to over 44 billion views, and is inspiring more teenagers and young adults to get back into reading.

In recent years, there has been a decline in youth actively reading, with research by the National Literary Trust conducted in 2019 finding that only 26 percent of those aged under 18 spent time each day reading.

Creators post videos varying from 15 seconds to three minutes long, discussing different genres, authors and books.

The trend is a home for book lovers and authors alike and has become a place for people to creatively share how their favourite books and authors make them feel, creators such as Jenna (@jennajustreads)’s video posted June 2021, where she shares the first lines from her favourite books to convince her viewers to read them gained almost 400,000 likes. Other creators take a more personal approach, like Lexi (@lexis_bookshelf) who posted her immediate reaction after finishing November 9 by Colleen Hoover, where she was crying over one of the lines from the book. Her post gained almost 800,000 likes.

For creators like Corfield (@imogensbookshelf), her account began as a personal venture to start reading again.

“I decided to make an account but I didn’t post anything for like a month or so because I guess I was scared of what people would think,” she tells upstart.

It inspired her to try it for herself.

“Then I came across a video about a girl talking about her experience on TikTok, she just hit like 50,000 followers or something and I was like wow, I could do that, so I did it… I posted my first video in lockdown in June last year, and the rest is history.”

Corfield now has over 30,000 followers and a combined total of 1.9 million likes on the platform and her account continues to grow. She posts a few times a week, producing her own content around the books and authors she loves, with many videos focusing on her love for Beach Read, a book by popular BookTok author Emily Henry.

“I really love connecting with people, and talking about books,” she said.

But it’s not just book fans getting involved on BookTok. As the way we read and engage with books is changing, authors are joining the platform to connect with their readers and post book related content too.

Lauren Jackson (@laurenjacksonauthorr) is a 25-year-old up and coming author, whose debut novel, Meant To Be releases in May this year. She believes all authors should join the BookTok community to engage with their readers.

“TikTok is an incredible platform for readers and authors. I have found basically all the books I’ve read in the past two years because of BookToker’s recommendations,” she tells upstart.

“In regard to being an author, it’s a really cheap, easy and effective way of promoting your work and connecting with new readers.”

National Australian retailers including Dymocks and QBD have jumped on the trend, creating their own TikTok accounts to engage with young readers. Dymocks retail assistant Vanessa Henderson says that keeping up with what’s popular on BookTok has been imperative to the success of her Bendigo store.

“Books that have been out for a while, sometimes for years, can all of a sudden go viral so we have to be on top of it,” she tells upstart.

“Colleen Hoover has been publishing since 2012 but it’s only in the last few months that people here have gone really crazy for her. For years nobody asked me about her, but in the last three months she’s become our best-selling author.”

Independent booksellers are also using the platform to help further their reach. Amplify bookstore (@amplifybookstore), an independent retailer who specialises in BIPOC authors, opened up in November 2020, and started their account on TikTok the following month. Co-founder Xuan Teo says the platform has really helped to promote her new store.

“When we first started, TikTok helped get the word out about the store and brought people to the site, she tells upstart.

“Because we have such a global audience, it does not necessarily translate to a large increase in sales, but I know that our TikToks definitely does push some viewers to buy or borrow their book from a local bookstore or library.”

Henderson knows many young people have started reading again due to TikTok. As the trends in the community evolve, she notices a change in the books people have been purchasing.

“We’ve always had a lot of young adults coming in, but what they’re buying is now much more heavily influenced by what’s going viral on BookTok.”



Article: Georgia Tacey is a third-year Bachelor of Media and Communications (Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter @georgiatacey

Photo: White and brown book on brown woven surface by Gülfer Ergin available HERE and used under a Creative Commons licence. This image has not been modified.