TikTok to sell books directly to users via marketplace – The Guardian

To further capitalise on the popularity of BookTok the social media giant will let users purchase titles through partnerships with publishers and retailers
TikTok has proved to be a hugely successful way to promote books in recent years, with publishers attributing the popularity of books such as It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid in large part to recommendations on the app. Now TikTok has decided to sell books directly, announcing partnerships with publishers HarperCollins UK, WH Smith, Bloomsbury and bookshop.org, all of which will sell books via TikTok’s online marketplace.
#BookTok is one of the social media platform’s most popular hashtags, reaching more than 90bn views to date, and as a result TikTok has formed several partnerships off the back of its success, including with the Hay festival and publisher Penguin Random House (PRH), where since September, app users have been able to tag any PRH title in their videos.
However, these new partnerships mark the first time users have been able to buy books directly through TikTok. Any merchant signed up to TikTok Shop can advertise and sell products to users within the app. The marketplace has been gradually expanding to include fashion, consumer electronics, beauty and fresh and frozen goods – and now books.
TikTok Shop’s senior director of e-commerce Patrick Nommensen, said: “It has been incredible to witness the BookTok community sharing its passion for reading, and reshaping the publishing world in the process.”
He added: “With these new partnerships, we’re delighted to be making it even easier for book lovers to buy the latest BookTok recommendations without ever leaving the platform, while also providing new avenues for publishers both large and small to reach their audiences.” He also suggested that future publisher partnerships may be on the horizon, adding that he and his colleagues “look forward to welcoming more merchants on to TikTok Shop UK in the future, as our platform continues to evolve as the ultimate destination for books and literature.”
Jo Surman, group digital and technology director at HarperCollins UK, said: “We’ve really enjoyed the last year working with TikTok and our authors to create content engaging with the thriving TikTok community.” Selling books through the app was “the natural next step”, she said.
Meanwhile, Nicole Vanderbilt, managing director at bookshop.org, said: “We’re pleased to be partnering with TikTok Shop – not only to give BookTokers and their communities another way to buy from their local independent through bookshop.org, but also to help booksellers enhance their own BookTok skills.”
The increased commercialisation of BookTok hasn’t always been received positively by TikTok users, however. When a TikTok book club was launched earlier this year, app user TheLibbyRuth said: “While I enjoy content created by businesses, I think the best part about TikTok is the authentic and unpolished aspect of it, and I would hate to see it become overly commercialised, especially with the lack of diversity in publishing.”
BookToker zai_rambles, who focuses on books by and about Black people, said the shop was a good thing, but needs to be developed further. “Of course it’s making books a lot more accessible for people more casually on BookTok,” she said. “People don’t only save the videos, now they can see the video and buy [the book] immediately which I think is definitely going to encourage people to read more.”
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The shop, however, is “not varied enough”, she thinks. “It is quite limited and there are very popular books there, yes, but I’m finding that most of the books that I recommend or that I want to read are not on TikTok bookshop.”
What makes BookTok “so beautiful”, she believes, “is the fact that you can find so many different kinds of genres and stories.” The TikTok bookshop “needs to mirror that as well”.
As part of the launch of the books category of the TikTok shop, the social media platform has collaborated with some of its creators, including Laurens Little Library and AP Beswick, to “grow the BookTok community further”.


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