Reading Between the Likes: The Influence of BookTok on Reading Culture
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This study examines BookTok, the online community of recreational readers on popular app TikTok. The research focuses on the impact of BookTok on reading culture, as seen in the example of Colleen Hoover’s commercial success with her 2016 novel It Ends With Us. The theories upon which this study is based are diffusion of innovations theory, platformization theory, uses and gratifications theory, and participatory culture theory. To investigate how BookTok has impacted the reading experience and engagement of users, this study incorporates evidence from two thematic content analyses, one focusing on videos from the For You page of TikTok and the other focusing on videos under the hashtag #itendswithus. The findings show that BookTok creates a digital space where like-minded readers can interact and react to books. The BookTok community engages with books by: (a) analysing and interpreting them, (b) expressing their themes creatively, (c) discussing and criticising their film or TV adaptions, (d) evaluating them, and (e) organising and documenting them. Moreover, most videos on a reader’s For You Page fall under the response/evaluation theme of book engagement, which shows that readers are highly likely to find their next read by simply scrolling on TikTok and coming across book recommendations. Finally, it is observed that romance is the most popular literary genre on TikTok. This research is useful for a range of stakeholders in the publishing industry, including publishers, authors, and readers.