Rebecca Yarros, Colleen Hoover and Andrea Longarela They are some of the writers who are now making waves among the youngest. But Federico García LorcaMiguel de Cervantes and Gabriel García Márquez they can also be “mainstream” for them. Now TikTok rules in generation Z and the latest trends on the social network have decided that literature is fashionable and the love for books returns. Young people read (sometimes more than adults) and not only youth novels. Its publication date or topic does not matter. If a book has managed to go viral on the fashionable social network, in a short time it will be a ‘best-seller’.
According to the latest Reading Habits Barometer, the group that reads the most is that of young people between 14 and 24 years old, which reaches 74.2% of readers. This trend has grown in recent years thanks to the power of social networks. Specifically, TikTok (with an immense youth audience) has created its own community of literature lovers where users exchange experiences, opinions and preferences about books. The hashtag #BookTok already has more than 217 billion views and #BookTokSpanishwhich promotes Spanish culture through literature, more than five billion.
This phenomenon even has its own ‘influencers’, the ‘booktokers‘, who give their opinion on the latest novels they have read, make recommendations and reflect on the characters and plots of their favorite books. “The prescription goes from being a review to a shared emotion“, they explain from the Editorial Division of Grupo Planeta. Publishers, bookstores and writers have reinvented themselves, increasing and reactivating sales of some titles. There are even some bookstores that have their own sections of recommended books in #BookTok and profiles on the social network .
Digital reading club
#BookTok was born naturally and has become “the largest digital reading club in the world“, according to Luisa Ramos, head of communication for the social network. “The phenomenon has become a catalyst that promotes literature and encourages reading in millions of people, also being a global scenario of local culture”, says Ramos. This has also caused a revolution in the publishing industry, helping authors launch their careers and connect with readers.
“We find the #BookTok phenomenon very impressive,” he confesses. Rosa Samperliterary director of Montena, Random Cómics, Molino & PenguinKids de Penguin Random Housegiven that “A reading requires a space and time of tranquility and depth, but TikTok as a social network is the opposite.“. The editor also considers that younger people use TikTok as a showcase for new items in a bookstore.
“Reading has lost the connotation of ‘being a geek’ that it had among young people“, assesses the writer and ‘booktoker’ Raquel Brune. “This makes more people feel that reading can also be for them and eliminates barriers,” adds the author of ‘Dark is the Night’. Brune believes that the publishing industry has prejudices and tries to classify books according to genres. “These classifications can limit the audience they are aimed at,” he points out. “It turns out that a book that narrates the relationship between two characters from ‘The Iliad’, like ‘The Song of Achilles’, a title written by an ancient Greek scholar, finds its home among teenagers and not among other scholars,” he exemplifies. “Teenagers enjoy good literature too!“claims the creator.
Young people’s interest in literature has evolved along with what is written and published. “At the moment, The literary world has an immense range of proposals for young people who did not have it before.“says the writer and ‘tiktoker’ Tamara Molina. Novels do not always have to be dense, designed or reserved for scholars, there are also fun, entertaining, addictive stories with a similar language with which they can feel identified.
“Youth literature and the fan phenomenon have always been looked down upon“, says editor Samper, but the reality is that many of these books now achieve sales above other renowned authors. This is the current case of ‘wings of blood‘, of Rebecca Yarros. From Fnac they assure that currently the sales of this title are not too far from that of ‘The Maid’s Daughters’ by Sonsoles Ónega, a book that won the 2023 Planeta Prize. A few years ago the chain inaugurated a section of best-selling books of youth literature, seeing success among the youngest.
Be part of a community
Within this trend, the FOMO (‘fear of missing out’). “This phenomenon is described by the fear of being left out of the conversation or a social event. In the end, If everyone around you is commenting on a book, you like to be able to be a participant in that conversation and give your own opinion.“, Explain Cristina Jimenez‘product manager’ of Juvenil, Crossover and Comics at Penguin Random House.
The revolution came from the covid pandemic. Many young people rediscovered reading or discovered a new hobby. Right around that time is when TikTok started to grow and become big. However, from the publishing sector they continue with the great challenge of facing “the huge volume of audiovisual entertainment that exists today,” says Jiménez. “Luckily, young people continue to find a space for their moment of reading“confirms.
Maryam Assakat, ‘booktoker’ and Catalan bookseller, assures that as a result of this phenomenon, young people began to go to the bookstore where she works to ask about some books they had seen on TikTok. A fact that is also confirmed by Fnac, where they assure that more and more young people are left to buy the latest literary novelties, They flock to the day the book they’ve been waiting for so long is released. and they queue for hours for book signings.
Reactivation of the classics
“TikTok is a very powerful marketing tool. The platform has the ability to publicize new titles, but also to give new life to great classics,” says the head of TikTok Communications. Books that were published years ago have returned to the sales lists, such as ‘So little life’ or ‘The goldfinch’. “I have realized that Lorca is ‘mainstream’“says Patricia Fernández, culture disseminator on social networks. “The reading that has always been done of the classics is not attractive, there is no vision that reaches the general public“he argues.
This also happens with novels published a long time ago. “How did a book from many years ago not sell at the time and is succeeding now?“asks Maryam Assakat. An example is Colleen Hoover, an author who, when she was published in Spain, “went so unnoticed that the publisher that had the rights stopped publishing it because it wasn’t selling,” explains the bookseller. Suddenly, People started talking about ‘Breaking the circle’ and it was a ‘boom’. “It’s not that those books were bad in their day, but that now there is a more open tool to share reviews,” he points out.
Before it was much more difficult for a book to go so far in such a quick and easy way. “NowNovels are just one video away from becoming a viral book“, comments Tamara Molina, for her part. “The speed of transmission on social networks gives the impression that There are books practically born in them, but that is the channel in which young people share what they read and, Depending on the intensity of the ‘contagion’, it becomes a phenomenon and the book is among the best sellers,” they explain from the Editorial Division of Grupo Planeta. However, Assakat warns that books “are increasingly more expensive” and young people have been found who “can’t afford to spend 25 euros.”
Young people read. And they do it after going to bookstores as a community, as a moment of meeting for them, and buying the books in paper. Despite living digitally, the physical book is also the preferred option among new generations. “We long for the past and it seems magical to me“says Fernández, who considers that the paper book is a journey in itself: “Pick it up, open it, touch it, smell it and be aware of how much you have read“. “They are giving a lot of life to bookstores,” celebrates Assakat. Today, generation Z could have chosen a thousand ways to read. But they have preferred the most traditional and beautiful.