Booktok- icity

The Toxicity of Book influencers on Tiktok.

There are so many sides to the app. I have found so many great videos and different sides of tiktok and I know that there is some drama with in each of those subsets but at this time I want to focus on the book side.  I don’t even know is drama is the right word. It is really complete discourse at times

The social media app Tiktok has launched books into its very own astrosphere.   I am not sure it is a nice place to be or if I even enjoy it. However, like daytime tv drama I am tuning in. 

What is the value of creating content on the app?

For the last 6 months I have really struggled with the app.  I understand the value in creating content over there. Being that we can make videos that promo our personalities and the possible listenership for the podcast is just part of the draw.  The other part is I want to be in the know, and there is so much to know over there. 

I joined the app begrudgingly in the spring of 2021 but before that I was encouraged to join back in early 2020.  People were really connecting to books and authors over there.  So many little-known books were going viral. One of the most viral books that really launched Booktok was the Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon. It was phenomenal to see books that are a few years old and not really paid attention to get all this love.  Creating new fans and fan appreciation. 

There was a tide of change happening on the app that started in the fall of 2021.   We started to see some very decisive perspectives. It has only gotten worse since the first of the year.  Topics that have been talk about such things as who are book reviews for.  Authors sharing 1 star reviews and at time sharing the reviewers name.  Readers sharing how to pirate books. Authors making statements and opinions on topics that at the end of the day had nothing to do with them. 

We have also seen accountability come to the forefront.  Encouraging readings to be more diverse in what they choose to read.  To understand that there are problematic authors that are writing things that are not ok. It is also a place that has shown us that not ever book is forever one.  But that there are books out there for everyone. 

One of the hardest parts of Booktok for me is the competition and the privilege.   When I first joined it was people dancing with their books sharing their promo of the book. Sometimes it was several books that were similar to help you find a new author or series.  We did see videos of people reviewing books and sharing why they love them.  Some of the content creators were gifting books off people’s Amazon Wishlist.  At that point the most annoying thing was the dancing because lord know I was not going to be dancing! Also people forgetting or forcing engagement by not sharing the name of the book until way down in the comments!  (I do not have time for this)

Do you really need big bookshelves?

As time has moved forward it has become about the stuff.  Big and Beautiful bookshelves and crowns.  Creators wanting paperbacks instead of an eBook.  It became about sharing your book haul and stacks upon stack of books sent to you. These books were sometimes sent by authors, sometimes by Publishers or PR Firms and sometimes bought from their local bookstore. Talk became less and less about Libraires and digital programs like Libby, Hoopla or Kindle Unlimited. 

Should we really be hating on helping to make books accessible?

The videos became authors making so many videos complaining about the evils of Kindle Unlimited and Amazon.  Reading a book is a privilege. There are reasons that things like Free Little Libraries and charities like Imagination Library exist. Books are important to communities, but they are not always easily obtained.    One thing that I have learned over the last 2 years and being apart of the book world is that not all libraries are created equally.  Library systems while common in the US are not the case in many part of the world.  Places like central and south America libraries are nonexistent. 

There is also all the other drama on booktok.  Authors behaving badly going after reviewers, sharing bad reviews and calling out the reviewer. (Reviews are for READERS).  And silly things like authors should not “follow” book reviewers or stop using cock.  I also am still convinced that what some people think is sexy and spicy in a book is completely biased. I also think that the booktok community is responsible for the muted cover trend, which I hate and will talk about at another time.  There is also the big debate of HEA vs HFN and if romance must have a Happily Ever After (YES IT FREAKING DOES). 

Stop the bad behavior!

The current trend on tiktok has been about the concept of people returning read books either ebook or physical copies to retailers.  I have been reading on an ereader since 2010 in all that time I have returned exactly 2 books!  In our book community I asked and more than ½ our community did not know you could even return an ebook until this trend started on tiktok.  Now I am seeing posts and comments from authors going on and on about the reporting of errors and returns. We have to stop feeding the trends!

Returning is mostly a problem with Amazon. Apple will allow it up to 2 weeks after purchase.  But Amazon are the only retailer that allows for up to 30 days! For KOBO all sales are final and for Barnes and Noble all sales are final unless it is a compatibility issues with a file for that you have to call and speak to a live person. You can return a book straight from your kindle!  This is not ok Amazon!  I truly hope that people will STOP doing this. Stop returning books! But also, we must stop feeding into these trends. Talking about them, stitching videos, and commenting on them just push them out to more and more people. 

Please remember, in general People suck! 

I know that Booktok has helped catapult some authors to the top sellers list and it has been great for their careers. For every one of those there are at least 100 that are still trying to find readers.  I personally have found so many new to me authors and great stories from the app. For everyone I have loved there are at least 20 that I don’t.   

I have also been hit with the nasty side of people on the app. I recently did a call out for Romance authors interested in maybe being a part of our Summer Reading Challenge.  It was not liked by some of the authors that we had limited space and that we cover a very small niche in the Romance Book Genre.  But I addressed it once and walked away from it. 

I was not around for the dawning of Bookstagram and have only been active in that community of book based social media since 2019. While it is not perfect it does not seem to have the negativity that Booktok does.  Booktok feels like anarchy. It is lawless and lacks kindness and respect. I think our content over there will be very limited.  As I do not want to feed into the privilege and the nastiness on that app.

I started this project of a book blog and podcast to share the love of romance books. I wanted to find romance lovers who want to talk about books and share their favorite reads. I do not want to feel like I must spend money to have beautiful bookshelves. I do not want to demand paperbacks from authors who I know are struggling to break even on their books.  I know the book community can be a fabulous place, our community of Buzzing about Romance proves that. But the booktok app seems to bring out and show us the darkness and lack of kindness out in the world. 

I know that we can do better!  We are better. So stop feeding into the nastiness and toxic culture.   

If you have questions or comments on this topic please email me at [email protected]