Impact of Social Media on Book Publishing Industry

Impact of Social Media on Book Publishing Industry

  • The #BookTok hashtag on TikTok had accumulated over 42 billion views as of 2022.
  • Barnes & Noble began promoting titles from the community, with shelves for customers to view TikTok’s most trending titles.
  • The majority of TikTok users are under the age of 35, which boosts young adult category books in particular.
  • As of 2021, 4 out of the 5 best selling YA titles in the UK were driven by TikTok’s #BookTok trend.
  • Goodreads has over 120 million members worldwide and is the most popular and influential digital database for books.
  • The platform was purchased for $150 million in 2013 by Amazon.
  • During Covid-19, book-related content on Instagram rose by 31% as influencers encouraged followers to read more during lockdowns.
  • The recognized author John Green originally became known through the YouTube platform prior to his books achieving major success.
  • He is now most commonly known for his novel “The Fault In Our Stars” (2012) which became one of the fastest-selling young adult books and has sold over 23 million copies.
  • Books mentioned by publisher Twitter accounts receive significantly higher interactions than those mentioned by non-publisher accounts.

Goodreads impact on book publishing

  • The Goodreads platform has more than 120 million members globally and is known as the most popular digital book database.
  • Due to its data and influence, it was purchased by Amazon in 2013 for $150 million.
  • Members can use the platform in order to track the books that they are reading, find recommendations, write reviews, participate in challenges and more.
  • The data provided by these activities is valuable to the book industry and produces information on what audiences think. 
  • All of this data has an economic value alongside other uses, such as being used in library book recommendation software.

Number of Goodreads members per year

  • As of 2019, Goodreads had 90 million registered members.
  • For the given period, the company registered its largest percentage increase in 2012 (+100%).
  • In total, the number of Goodreads members grew by 83.5 million over the period.
  • This was an average increase of 10.44 million members per year.
YearMembersChange
201990 million+ 20.00%
201875 million + 15.38%
201765 million + 18.18%
201655 million+ 37.50%
201540 million+ 33.33%
201430 million+ 20.00%
201325 million+ 92.31%
201213 million+ 100.00%
20116.5 million

A graph is given below to show the total number of Goodreads members per year:

Instagram impact on book publishing through Bookstagram

  • Although Instagram became popular by giving its users a place to share photos, the Bookstagram trend has been growing since 2014.
  • The trend gave book bloggers and reviewers a space where they could share book-related content with users across the world.
  • The most popular Bookstagrammers can attract hundreds of thousands of followers, giving them the platform to break into traditional book publishing.
  • Features or good reviews from popular Bookstagrammers can contribute greatly to the promotion of a book and expand its audience.
  • Due to the exposure, interest and interactions they can create, they are able to increase sales numbers of the books they mention.
  • During Covid-19, book-related content on Instagram rose by 31% as influencers encouraged followers to read more often, especially during lockdowns.

TikTok impact on book publishing

  • On the TikTok platform, videos of people recommending books has led to a significant increase in book sales.
  • Many books that received a sales increase were almost a decade old, whilst others gained popularity before their date of release.
  • As the majority of TikTok users are under the age of 35, young adult category books in particular have seen boosts.
  • Some independent authors who have gained publicity using the app have also attracted the attention of publishers looking to buy publishing rights.

#BookTok

  • As a community, #BookTok was formed in 2020 and during that year, many viral videos contributed to its huge growth.
  • Many BookTokers have hundreds of thousands of followers due to its boost in popularity since this time.
  • The increase in book sales due to BookTok was noticed by both authors and publishers alike, who also found that the trend kept authors, publishers and buyers better connected.
  • Authors began making accounts to promote their own titles, however publishers made company accounts to sponsor and promote specific titles with the most popular BookTokers.
  • Videos with the #BookTok hashtag had a combined 42 billion views as of 2022.
  • Barnes & Noble began promoting #BookTok titles, with shelves for customers to view TikTok’s most trending titles.

Popular #BookTok books

#TitleAuthorYearEst. copies sold
1It Ends With UsColleen Hoover20164,000,000
2The Song of AchillesMadeline Miller20112,000,000
3The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoTaylor Jenkins Reid20172,000,000
4We Were LiarsE. Lockhart20142,000,000
5The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueV. E. Schwab20201,000,000
6The Love HypothesisAli Hazelwood2021750,000

YouTube impact on book publishing

  • YouTube has a large community of book-vloggers who record themselves discussing and reviewing books.
  • The most popular vloggers have thousands of followers and can receive attention from publishers who send them advanced and free copies of books to gain publicity.
  • The successful author John Green originally became well-known through the YouTube platform before his books became bestsellers.
  • He is now most commonly known for his novel “The Fault In Our Stars” (2012) which became one of the fastest-selling young adult books of all time.
  • Due to the author’s self-promotion on YouTube, thousands of copies had been pre-ordered before its launch.
  • As of 2017, it had sold over 23 million copies worldwide.

BookTube

  • The BookTube community has spread to millions of viewers around the world.
  • Although the majority of BookTube content creators focus on the young adult genre, other genres are also popular.
  • The publishing industry sees BookTube as a source of growth and it is often used to advertise new publications.
  • By providing vloggers with advanced reader copies of publications, they can advertise their books indirectly through influencer marketing/word of mouth to create exposure. 

Twitter impact on book publishing

  • The Twitter platform can help audiences discover books and provide authors with direct access to contacts who could publish their work.
  • Similarly, publishers find that they do not only want to share their latest releases but they also want to build relationships with authors and consumers.
  • Twitter is able to connect all of those involved in the lifecycle of a book, from its writing and manufacturing, through to marketing and readership.
  • Books mentioned by Twitter publisher accounts receive significantly higher interactions when compared to books mentioned by non-publishers.

Social media and book publishing FAQ

How important is an author’s following to publishers?

  • When publishers decide whether or not to acquire a book, an author’s following is now an important factor in decision making.
  • An author’s following can greatly affect whether they receive a book deal and if so, its size. This is especially true for authors who write nonfiction.
  • Although the amount of followers an author has is important for publishers, it is still an unpredictable metric of a book’s sales potential.  

Do publishers help authors gain a following?

  • Most unknown authors will not receive a large publicity push from their publisher and will instead have to self-promote their titles.
  • Often, this will involve having a strong social-media strategy in order to gain a large and loyal following online.
  • Authors with existing successful social media influence can tempt publishing companies to approve book proposals, as the author’s social presence can offer more reliable publicity.

Do social media trends permanently boost book sales?

  • Although a boost in sales can often occur for books after gaining popularity on social media, these are often just short-term increases.
  • However, these can be significant enough to push books up the sales charts and earn a greater exposure overall.