Publishers want to buy BookTok, creators resist

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BookTok is a hashtag where avid readers share all about their favorite books on the TikTok social media platform. BookTok members tag videos of themselves, often in the bookstore aisles, raving about their favorite books. Many videos on BookTok have gone viral with millions of views, creating a whole new class of influencers who have made books and series bestsellers. This trend is taking the publishing industry by storm, and now publishers want to cash in on in.

Two years after its conception, BookTok has been directly linked to increased print sales across the United States, leaving publishers eager to use BookTok’s unique energy and brand for new book releases. “Nothing else engages readers like #BookTok – it brings books to life in a whole new way,” said Alyssa Castaneda, Social Media Manager, Penguin Random House US (TikTok.com)

As reported by Yahoo News, Penguin Random House announced a collaboration with TikTok in September that allows users to link books directly within the app. The new BookTok feature brings together publisher information about a book, along with the BookTok videos that talk about it, in one central location. The goal was to expand BookTok’s impact community. A TikTok spokesperson, Isaac Bess said rolling stone that the link idea was created with the aim of extending the impact of BookTok’s reach and “taking book discovery and content creation to the next level”.

But there is a problem; only books published by Penguin Random House can be linked through the app, and many creators worry that this inherent bias could lead to less exposure for lesser-known writers, as well as lower revenue for BookTok. This new feature comes just as the BookTok community is engaged in a larger conversation about how creators are compensated. “While many BookTok influencers are eligible for TikTok’s Creator Fund – an internal compensation system based on subscribers and combined weekly views – some community members seek payments from the publishing companies themselves.” (Rollingstone.com)

As reported by rolling stone, TikTok creator Haley Thomas shared that Random House’s attempt to get involved is making her and other TikTokers resistant to using the new app. Thomas shared that they were “actively concerned” about how publishing companies might try to use BookTok’s creators without offering fair compensation. “Initially, I thought that this new [feature] might have some use,” Thomas says, “But then it was ugly, like, not only is this giant trying to swallow up all the other publishers, but now they want BookTok?

There is also another problem, the concern for integrity and the creators who do not want to sell themselves. BookTok creators rarely offer sponsored posts and are usually just avid readers who want to share their love of books. The appeal for many of these creators is that they offer honest reviews that aren’t tainted by sponsorship.

Maya Bonner, another BookTok creator, shared her interview with rolling stone“I understand the attraction. From a business perspective, as a publisher, how could you say no to BookTok? two years and I understand that. But I have no interest in engaging in this with them. I don’t need to support them. They will have enough money without me.

It seems that Pengiun Random House is very aware of this factor, and it was one of the main draws of collaborating with TikTok in the first place. In TikTok’s announcement, Castaneda went on to share “#BookTok confirms that word of mouth is still the most powerful force in our industry. People want to know how a book will make them feel, and TikTok values ​​the authenticity more than any other platform. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with TikTok to make the best parts of the platform – discovery and community – even stronger. (TikTok.com)

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