written by Lauren
As a lifelong reader, I always found it disheartening that my daughters didn’t take to the written word. They inherited other, less desirable behavioral traits, but despite years of bedtime Shel Silverstein poems and Judy Blume books, reading seemed as alien as doing the dishes.
So, when I started working with ABC, I asked Maria, our young adult (YA) book specialist, how I could get my teens to read.
“BookTok,” she said without missing a beat.
I’d heard of TikTok, but BookTok? Turns out this tok within a tok is a dedicated community of readers and reviewers whose short, often-viral video recommendations have created a new wave of bookish influencers. For the generationally-challenged out there (myself included), think of BookTok as a hip, globally accessible, steroid-infused Oprah’s Book Club.
The numbers say it all: the BookTok hashtag has garnered a mind-boggling 78.2 billion views (probably 79.1 billion between the writing of this article and its publishing), helping to jump start the careers of new authors while sending older ones back to the top of bestseller lists.
But it’s also created a new generation of readers, many of them young. While no genre escapes BookTok’s reach, many creators focus on young adult fiction or fantasy and romance novels—the stuff of the young. And that draws in the tweens and the teens, like Jakub Stienezen, who I met at a Schiphol airport bookstore in its BookTok section (yes—booksellers have also taken notice of the phenomenon).