Booktok? A Gen-Z guide to literature

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Carly Pearce, Third Year, Film & Television

What is booktok, and should you be on it?

Every few years, a brand-new app redefines the way we use social media. In 2020, TikTok rose to the forefront as the new social platform for easily accessible, readily available content.

The rise of TikTok was slow but steady, gradually amassing millions of followers to the app until it became a global success. The app is in many ways responsible for a new cohort of ‘influencers’,creators like Charli and Dixie Damelio or Addison Rae. While also accommodating some well-known celebrities, using it to their advantage as a marketing tool.

Disregarding the mainstream dancing and music content, there are several subgenres of TikTok that attract thousands of viewers globally, one of these being BookTok.

Olivier Bergeron / Unsplash

What Is BookTok?

BookTok is a community of readers who post videos about their favourite books and characters, book reviews and ‘to be read’ lists.  This phenomenon is not new or unique to TikTok, as demonstrated in the ‘BookTube’ community on YouTube or ‘Bookstagram’ on Instagram.

Whilst it can be said that all online reading communities are welcoming and interactive, BookTok’s community is unique for a few reasons.

The biggest difference between these and BookTok is the length of the videos. TikTok limits its videos to 60 seconds. The short length means most creators in the BookTok community create several short TikToks throughout the day, and these videos are usually less formal than the longer content seen on other platforms.

Anjuli Vadera / Epigram

First, whilst it could be argued the community is new - the scale of accounts on BookTok and the volume of comments is far smaller than that on BookTube, which in turn makes it easier for creators to reply to comments allowing for more interaction.

Second, the time restriction imposed by the app forces users to be more creative; they have a limited amount of time to convey their personality and discuss and promote whatever book or series has caught their eye.

Who you should be following:

1.     @abbysbooks
Based in the UK, Abby creates funny, on-the-nose videos for her 145,000 followers. Her content is engaging yet light-hearted, as she gives popular memes a bookish edge.

2.     @fitzplleasuure
Also based in the UK, this account is relatively new but has posted content almost every day for the last three weeks, with no sign of stopping (a personal favourite being the series “reading classics so you don’t have to”).  Her videos are packed full of British wit and a wide variety of literature – it takes a LOT of self-restraint not to buy everything she discusses.

3.     @aymansbooks
This account comes filled with book recommendations and literature-inspired takes on popular TikTok memes and sounds. Spanning a range of genres, Aymans recommendations are generally more adult, providing recommendations that span further than the traditional YA. Her account also includes closed captions so is accessible to all!

4.     @pixie.duck

Ducky is a certified sign language interpreter. Her videos are funny and easily digestible, some most recent favourites being her first socially distanced visit to a bookshop during the pandemic, or when she signed an iconic scene from Shrek.

Dulcie Godfrey / Epigram

So why should you venture over to BookTok?

Especially during the pandemic, TikTok became a place for young people to seek refuge, somewhere they could go to ingest content in a way that didn’t feel overbearing or require too much investment – an ideal platform in a world seeking distraction.

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It’s very satisfying to distract yourself for a couple minutes by listening to enthusiastic people talk about books. The community created on this platform has helped readers feel connected regardless of where they are on the planet. At a time when many of us rely on books to escape reality for a while, it is comforting to find a community of people who share a similar love of literature.

Featured Image: Epigram / Anjuli Vadera

Have you tried BookTok?

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