What is TikTok Shop & how will it affect book sales?

What is TikTok Shop & how will it affect book sales?

By now I’m sure we’ve all heard of BookTok and its rampant success in drawing vast audiences into buying books, as well as reigniting the younger generations' dwindling passion in reading. Such success is exemplified when The Bookseller named BookTok its FutureBook’s Person of the Year in recognition of its users’ influence on book sales over the past year.

Recently, TikTok has taken BookTok one step further - TikTok has an online shopping platform known as TikTok Shop, selling items from energy bars to make-up. With #BookTok being one of the social media platform’s most popular hashtags, it was inevitable that TikTok would add a specific category for BookTok to their TikTok Shop. This has been done in collaboration with publishing company HarperCollins and British retailers WHSmith and Bookshop.org; thus allowing consumers to purchase books without leaving the TikTok app. This has been widely praised as it supports small independent businesses who will be selling their books via the new feature. Furthermore, TikTok has also launched TikTok Book Club, with a new book announced each month, allowing book-lovers to read along and share their experiences in the #BookClub hub.

Reactions from inside the publishing industry are so far positive. Bookshop.org managing director Nicole Vanderbilt said it’s a great opportunity ‘not only to give BookTokers and their communities another way to buy from their local independent through Bookshop.org, but also to help booksellers enhance their own BookTok skills’.

However, one area of improvement was pointed out by influential BookToker zai_rambles, saying the shop is ‘not varied enough’. ‘It is quite limited and there are very popular books there, yes, but I’m finding that most of the books that I recommend or that I want to read are not on the TikTok Bookshop.’ What makes BookTok ‘so beautiful’, she believes, ‘is the fact that you can find so many different kinds of genres and stories.’ The TikTok Bookshop ‘needs to mirror that as well’.

Research by Publishers Association revealed that 49% of 16–25-year-olds will visit a physical bookshop to buy a book they have seen on BookTok. Now with an online sales platform too we imagine more good news for book sales is to come!

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