BookTok, the name for social media content about books posted on Tik Tok, is boosting book sales, but its effect on readers is mixed. While there are positives from this community, there are negative consequences that readers should be aware of.
Social media influencers use Tik Tok to promote books they enjoy, and frequently these books involve romantic relationships and stories about romance. However, audiences should think carefully about what they consume based on BookTok recommendations.
Lack of diversity
A controversy of BookTok is the lack of diversity in several areas. First of all there is a large lack of diversity among authors that get promoted. Authors are largely white and female as it is a mostly female community. It would be nice to see some BookTok books written by authors who identify as people of color, as it would allow for more diversity in stories and representation for everyone. Readers deserve to have characters that are like them.
A large number of characters in BookTok stories are usually straight, white, and neurotypical. While there’s nothing wrong with this, characters who have different traits can allow for characters who resemble the broader society. We must make sure to give a chance to all types of stories, so BookTok can continue to flourish with stories and authors of all types.
The glorification of sexual abuse and misconduct
Obviously, with great popularity comes great controversy, and BookTok is certainly not exempt from this. The romanization of topics such as sexual abuse can be unhealthy, especially for teen readers.
A particular author, Colleen Hoover, who is popular on BookTok, has come under fire for her alleged romanization of abusive situations. Her most popular book, “It Ends With Us” has had several accusations of romanticizing a relationship filled with abuse and misconduct.
Bringing in new readers
Despite its flaws, BookTok has a lot to offer aspiring readers. BookTok has encouraged lots of people to read, and many people cite BookTok as the start of their love of books.
Perrysburg student Elliana Tabernero stated BookTok cultivated her love of reading.
“Overall, BookTok has a positive outlook that allows reading to become more enjoyable. While it’s very feminine based, with its romance and drama being its main idea, I think even that allows a person to enjoy reading. Most people on BookTok like to annotate or sticky note their books with their own thoughts, I even do so myself. This has really helped me in my own English classes because now I really enjoy reading and annotating my books for English class,” said Tabernero.
Ally Danford, a junior at Perrysburg, said while she has a great appreciation for BookTok, she would love to see more young adult books promoted on the app.
Overall, I feel like BookTok’s positives overweighthe negatives, and while there are things the Booktok community can work on, its overall effect on bringing on readers has allowed for a larger population to enjoy reading and find others to enjoy it with.
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