Express press service
Is the love of reading contagious? It obviously is, according to today’s social media trends. More and more people are opening digital doors to their lives, offering insight into their personalities on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, the ripple effect of which seems to be creating more avenues for different industries. The world of books is no exception.
Conversations about dying print books are increasingly becoming the norm in the wake of the digital revolution of the last decade and a half. It turns out that the increased reliance on the Internet is paradoxically playing a key role in the preservation of print.
Trends like #booktok and #bookstagram have taken social media by storm. As more bibliophiles go online to share their love of reading — their current reads, book recommendations, book covers they love, favorite lines, or just aesthetically composed images with books — the digital world has turned into one big book club. And the publishing industry couldn’t be happier. Hachette India attributes the success of many books in the market, nationally and internationally, to online trends.
“It’s genres like romantic comedies, thrillers and children’s fiction that have seen their sales increase,” says Riti Jagoorie, GM-Product & Marketing, Hachette India. Among their bestsellers from last year were Colleen Hoover’s Verity and Ali Hazelwood’s Love Hypothesis. “There are many others that have sold out due to their popularity on BookTok, but these two stand out,” adds Jagoorie.
The latest ‘Nielsen India Book Market Report’ released in 2015 predicted that the then ‘$261 billion book market would hit ‘739 billion by 2020. While their next report is due later this year , it would be safe to assume that the pandemic that has confined people to the four walls of their homes has driven the numbers up.
“The pandemic changed the way readers interacted online and that’s when trends like #booktok popped up around the world. It’s been a pleasure to see the reading community engage like never before. Although TikTok is now banned in India, the community is actively using other platforms to discuss their favorite books, characters and authors,” says Meenakshi Singh, Head-Marketing & Publicity (Consumer) at Bloomsbury India.
Thanks to these trends, books previously published by Bloomsbury like The Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeline Miller and The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon went viral on #booktok last year and their sales have also increased in India. Singh adds that they have noticed a steady increase in popularity and sales in the fantasy genre.
Many publishers are also going the extra mile by not just reaping the benefits of these trends, but also becoming active participants. Like Penguin admits to having positioned the brand as an influencer in the book industry. Its social media and digital team organizes its online content around trends – reels, memes, etc. – to keep the brand relevant.
Shortly after the Jaipur Literature Festival earlier this year, Penguin shared an Instagram reel of the event’s highlights. Another reel titled “Fun Fact: Reading Is Transportation” shows a reader opening a book, followed by the frame sifting through beautiful travel locations around the world.
“At Penguin, we are very nimble and adaptable with our approach to following trends. Thus participating as a publisher-influencer in the book community. We creatively orient our content around trends so that they remain relevant but do not become don’t get lost in the deluge of content around this trend,” says Penguin’s social and digital media team.