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Breaking Buktok: What brands can learn from this socio-literary phenomenon

The hottest pastime of this summer isn’t games or dining on the patio. Thanks to BookTok, reading this.

You read it right TikTok has made reading undeniably, undeniably good.

If you’ve been scrolling through your feeds and wondering whether “It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover or Sarah J. If everyone knows how to pick up a copy of “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Maas, don’t worry. Keep reading to learn more about how TikTok is shaping the literary industry and what brands can take away from this trending subculture.

what is Buktok,

BookTok is a TikTok subculture where book lovers discuss books they can’t stop talking about.

On TikTok, #BookTok has garnered over 61.9 billion views, with some individual videos reaching over 100 thousand likes. It’s also not exclusive to promotional networks. As of July 17, 2022, ten of the 15 books listed on the New York Times paperback trade fiction best seller list are #BookTok recommendations.

Screenshot of the top seven New York Times paperback trade fiction best sellers.  Six out of seven on the list are Buktok recommendations.
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Buktok has revitalized the publishing and book selling industries by allowing a new generation of readers to share recommendations without the support of media outlets or columns. Now, anyone can have the power to fly a book off the shelves and brands are taking note.

3 How brands are promoting Popular Buktok Recommendations on tiktok

Popular Buktok books are a prime opportunity for literary brands. Sellers, publishers, book clubs, and even authors are tapping into the subculture to attract new fans with the latest page-turner. Here’s how they’re doing it.

1. Barnes & Noble Buktok: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

If you were in junior high school in the early 2010s, you probably saw this title passed around your homeroom classroom by a dedicated group of young adult (YA) fiction fans. Thanks to a recent Amazon Prime TV series adaptation, the novel is more popular than ever on Buktok.

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” is a YA romance that follows a significant summer in the life of Isabel Conklin. The coming-of-age novel and television adaptation beautifully captures those last few summer vibes between childhood and adulthood.

This ties in perfectly with a TikTok trend that prompts users to contemplate personal truths sandwiched between two unrelated sentences.


This series was much more than I expected. I highly recommend reading it. #thesummeriturnedpretty #thesummeriturnedprettyseries #booktok

Original Soundboard – Fiona’s GF

BNBuzz, the official Barnes & Noble TikTok account, jumped at the opportunity to take a sympathetic look at why the book continues to resonate with teen audiences more than a decade after its original publication. TikTok combines a trending audio with a topic that is currently growing in popularity, creating something that is timely and relatable for young readers.

2. Penguin Random House Buktok: Lapavona by Otesa Moshfegh

Otesa Moshfegh is a Buktok darling. In 2021, her novel “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” became an aesthetically-defining TikTok hit, prompting new fans to tear through her other works with enthusiasm.

Readers were counting down the days until they could get their hands on “Lapvona,” her most recent release since August 2021. When popular booktokers began sharing initial reactions to advance reading copies, the excitement reached new heights.

The novel’s publisher, Penguin Random House, used this spike in conversation with an old-fashioned social media contest.


Share why you want lapvona by posting a video on TikTok, tagging this account, and using #lapvonagiveaway in the caption to enter the giveaway! No purchase required, US residents, 18+, end 4/15. Official rules link in bio! #ottessamoshfegh #lapvona #ottessamoshfeghisbae #myyearofrestandrelaxation #bookgiveaway #reading #balloonbreath

In My Mind (feat. Crystal Waters) – Never Dull

The gift was simple. To enter, users had to share their own TikTok explaining why they should get a copy of the book. This call for user-generated content prompted some TikTokers to share their Moshfeg libraries, fostering even more Penguin Random House publications in the process.


Otessa Moshfeg is the gatekeeper of my soul; The whole essence of my being. I’m obsessed with or without him but he desperately needs a breath <3 @Penguin Random House #lapvonagiveaway

Original Sound – 777

3. Reese’s Book Club Buktok: Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

“Seven Days in June” was published during the summer of 2021 and has remained a mainstay of #BookTok ever since. TikTokers discussing the novel have garnered over five million views and booktokers can’t stop talking about it. It is a hit backed by many literary influencers, including Reese Witherspoon.

Reese’s Book Club is a monthly book club dedicated to raising women-centric stories. “Seven Days in June” was the club’s June 2021 pick, providing readers with a month of exclusive content, from author interviews to book-inspired playlists.

This material has not lost steam after the end of the month. Reese’s Book Club TikTok account reused clips from exclusive interviews to celebrate the paperback release of the novel.


“I want black love to look iconic.” -Tia Williams #SevenDaysInJune is now in paperback! Have you received your copy yet? #Booktok #SummerRead #Summer Books

Beauty – Tolan Kim

Reproduction of content can keep your TikTok schedule full of content that breaks the hearts of potential followers on the page for you.

What other brands can learn from the success of #booktok

On the surface, the trends in this subculture may seem specific to brands in the literary realm. However, you should never judge a book by its cover. TikTok is a great place to find and connect with your niche audience, no matter what industry you are working in.

Whether you’re a homewares brand looking to take advantage of #CleanTok or a kids retailer trying to get into #MomTok, here are some things you can learn from the rise of BookTok.

Rely on Creators to Lead

Each TikTok subculture has its own unique circle of internet personalities. These creators publish reviews, memes, observations, etc. on BookTok.

Penguin Random House took advantage of this by hiring two content creators – @kimmybookss and @balloonbreath – to create custom content for their channel. This takes their partnership a step further than collaborating on sponsored content. Instead, these producers are fully involved in the Penguin Random House brand content strategy.

Screenshot of Penguin Random House TikTok profile.
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The Barnes & Noble TikTok strategy also approaches creators in a unique way. Instead of searching their feeds for the next TikTok star, they search their stores.

A GIF of the TikTok search results for Barnes & Noble
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Many Barnes and Noble locations manage their own TikTok accounts, which promote content specific to their stores. A Barnes & Noble location in Westminster, Colorado has more than 30K followers, making the store’s staff experienced producers in their own right.


#books #bookdari

Original Soundboard – Bonnie (Taylor’s Version)

While each scenario is unique, together they prove that a manufacturer has its place in the driver’s seat. If you want to tap into a TikTok subculture, you have to give them space to grow.

Don’t Be Afraid to Keep It Casual

If you search through trending videos on #BookTok, you’ll see tons of recommendations made to the tune of popular audio, front-facing camera chat, and countless literary memes. They all have an effortless quality that fits perfectly with the casual vibe of TikTok.

Screenshot of TikTok search for BookTok
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As a marketer, it’s tempting to post only polished, brand-approved views across all networks. You have to try to do things differently on TikTok.

The secret of going viral on Tiktok will not be broken by expensive video editing software. Loosen the rule and lean into the experiment for a quick win.

Pro Tip: Just because a TikTok looks effortless doesn’t mean it was easy to make. In fact, even the most organic looking TikTok can take several times to get right. If you’re creating content for your brand, give yourself time for trial, error, and editing. If that doesn’t fit your schedule, you can consider outsourcing to a creator.

Create Easy Ways to Buy

The road to the checkout is full of obstacles and distractions. To keep Booktokers on the right track, retailers like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million created #BookTok-specific sections on their websites.

A screenshot of the Barnes & Noble website, highlighting a link to the Buktok landing page
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,Source: Barnes & Noble)

These landing pages quickly guide readers to their desired destinations for easy conversion at checkout. The Books-a-Million Buktok landing page even sorts books based on what’s trending, what’s gaining traction and genre.

Any retailer who has ever dropped products on TikTok can learn from this drama. Consumer interest is powerful but fleeting. Make sure your business is ready to seize every opportunity by giving TikTok-approved items their easy-to-find space on your website.


It’s Official: “As Seen On TV” Is Now “As Seen On TikTok”.


#BookTok #vine #yourgonnalookatmeandtellmethatimwrong #hersisterwasaprince #hersisterwasawitch #books #bookstore #display #manager

And I Think Her Sister Was a Witch – Miscellaneous Mashup

Your website isn’t the only place that needs a “Trend on TikTok” section. Brands that manage brick-and-mortar locations can lean further on social promotion by creating dedicated displays for items moving across the network.

If you want to go the extra mile, follow Barnes & Noble’s lead and use TikTok to attract followers to your store. Their summer partnership with the network encourages BookTokers to purchase popular BookTok books and read with their favorite creators for a combined online/offline experience.

lose yourself in a good Buktok book

BookTok can introduce you to your next favorite read. It also serves as a worthwhile marketing lesson: The TikTok community of your industry may already be out there. You just have to see.

If you need a starting point, check out this primer on the trends that are shaping TikTok. You’ll be on your way to finding your brand niche in no time.

The Breaking Down Buktok post: What Brands Can Learn From This Socio-Literary Phenomenon first appeared on Sprout Social.

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