How do Bookstagram and Booktok affect our reading habits?

With the rise of Bookstagram and Booktok, it’s inevitable that our reading habits are going to change based on what we see on social media. This can be the books we buy, or even the way we read.

Emma Leask
23rd February 2022
Image credit: @booksandquills on Instagram
An account dedicated to recommending all different genres of queer books. Image credit: @queerreadsonly on Instagram

The growth of bookish social media can be positive for reading habits. Seeing people reading online can motivate you to pick up a book, especially if you see a glowing review for a certain one. Bookish content creators actively promote a diverse range of voices too, sharing books from authors of colour, LGBTQIA+ authors, and disabled authors. It gives those authors a platform for their books to be shared in a way which has never existed in the past. This helps to encourage readers to try books from authors with different experiences to their own. Seeing people talking about books in certain ways, and maybe even sharing your own thoughts about books online, can also make you a more present and sensitive reader, allowing you to absorb the book in a new way.

There are certain books which rise to immediate popularity on social media, and it’s likely that you’ll want to understand the hype and try it yourself. The trends in popularity are reflected in publishers’ marketing tools with ‘A TikTok favourite’ on the cover, and even booksellers like Waterstones featuring TikTok’s most popular reads. This is a positive for those authors and publishers, and whilst it does encourage reading, it does mean that everyone is reading the same thing. When we go into bookshops, we instantly find those titles and authors we recognise because of their popularity, rather than discovering books the ‘old-fashioned’ way by choosing them based on their interesting premise.

Bookish content creators actively promote a diverse range of voices too, sharing books from authors of colour, LGBTQIA+ authors, and disabled authors.

It also results in a pressure to read the popular books, perhaps not allowing us to discover authentically the types of books we individually like. These trends do tend to be confined to young adult novels, where the readers are those most present on social media, so the true influence of Bookstagram and Booktok may not be as significant when considering variety of readers across the country.

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