Reading in the Digital Age: How BookTok Is Changing the Game

Lea Plörer
tiktok logo in front of book covers

The contemporary phenomenon BookTok shows how social media is promoting reading among younger generations and revolutionizing the book market. In this post, we take a closer look at the phenomenon that is making reading a trend again.

Fewer and fewer people are reading books, and the increase in sales is mainly due to inflation and a general rise in prices. These and similar reports regularly shake up the book market. The counter-trend is being driven by a contemporary phenomenon that is influencing the book market more than any other trend: BookTok.

Young readers gather under the collective term #BookTok or #BookTokGermany and discuss everything related to books on the social media platform TikTok. From recommendations and reviews to shared reading lists and reenactments of their favorite book scenes. Reading is popular among young people, and TikTok is one reason why.


Successful Through BookTok

The figurehead of the Booktok bubble is the Texan writer Colleen Hoover, who became a bestselling author through TikTok. The US-American is less well known to many traditional literary media and is, at most, a household name thanks to her circulation in the BookTok sections of bookshops. In the first half of 2022, she sold 2.3 million more titles in the USA than the Bible, which usually tops the rankings in the United States. But the Hoover hype is a global one. In Germany, too, she has been in the bestseller lists for 94 weeks, and the Texan has also topped the BookTok bestseller list for September, with three of her books in the top 10.


The Book Renaissance: Young Readers’ Impact on the Market

In 2017, people were reading around 8-9 books per year, but fast forward to 2022, and that number has climbed to 11-12 books annually. Although the German book market experienced a slight dip of nearly 2% in sales in 2022 compared to the previous year, a contrasting trend emerged among readers aged 16-29. Their spending on books went up by 8%. In the age group of 16-19 years old, this number reached an impressive 19%. TikTok undeniably played a role, with nearly one-third of book purchases in this age bracket influenced by social media recommendations.

A positive shift is also apparent in the realm of used books. According to a survey by the German marketplace Momox, a whopping 66% of respondents confirmed buying more books because choosing second-hand is not only budget-friendly but also aligns with sustainability goals.


From Second-Hand to Audiobooks: How We Read Today

There are various developments in the modern book market:
Secondhand books, audiobooks, e-readers, and reading apps are shaping the way we experience books.While browser extensions such as Faircado help you find the best used books from second-hand platforms in seconds, apps such as Blinkist offer a book summary to-go. However, the most promising trend at the moment is audiobooks, which are seeing the biggest growth thanks to a growing streaming industry. Modern reading habits are marked by their diversity – a trend that appears to resonate particularly well with the younger generation of readers.