Bookworms are known to get extremely protective and a little bit crazy when it comes to all things book related. From their favourite authors, books, and tropes to the book groups they are a part of. These bookish communities have been thriving for years through the more traditional idea of a book club, and when the internet came onto the scene, there were internet forums for people interested in a specific book, author, genre etc. Individuals from all over the world could join, providing a greater variety of booklovers.
These forums have almost been replaced with Facebook groups, who can have unlimited members, and of course, ‘Bookstagram’ and ‘Booktok’. These can be used by booklovers to show off their impressive collections, merchandise, favourite fandoms and art. Publishers have begun to reach out to profiles with large numbers of followers to promote books prior to their release date. This helps profiles boost viewers and followers, and publishers reach their intended market.
The purpose of these communities is for a group of like-minded people to come together and talk about the books they’ve read and liked with others who are equally invested to discuss them. Not all books are for everyone and there will be those who will dislike a book where others love it. Through Facebook, booklovers have been able to connect all over the world. Buy Swap Sell (BSS) groups have formed for readers to sell their high-quality books second-hand to those who want them and will look after them. This is a lovely way to connect and support others and their book buying addiction.
There are many problems collectors face in the bookish community, including accessing books not available in some regions. The Global Book Hunters Guild is a Facebook group that where people can purchase books available in other countries for a lot cheaper than through a publisher with foreign exchange rates and shipping costs. There are nominated persons in each country who purchase the books and send them over in a bulk parcel. It’s such a nice community to be a part of, everyone is willing to help you out, and you make connections with booklovers around the world.
However, the book community is no longer a quiet hidden group of people anymore. The rise of ‘BookTok’ has absolutely skyrocketed this little niche community into the view of the general public and has gained quite a lot of popularity and recognition. It’s turned what used to be viewed as a nerdy and lame pass time for quiet individuals, into something trendy. Almost everyone is reading books now! Being a reader has become more recognised in society and as a popular pass time.
‘BookTok ‘and ‘Bookstagram’ have also allowed for readers who enjoy books previously surrounded by stigma to openly express their enjoyment of these books. For example, the romance genre has especially grown and evolved over the last few years. There is now a lot more open discussion of ‘spicy’ books, which has created another community of readers who enjoy these kinds of stories who previously may have felt they needed to keep that enjoyment under wraps. There is still stigma surrounding the romance genre for both readers and authors, however, the days of the subtle and poetical works of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte are long over. New genres that are much darker and even sultrier than the simple spicy romance is becoming increasingly popular. An example of this would be the monster subgenre, Mafia genre, and books containing negative and near toxic ropes such as bully romance.
‘BookTok ‘has also created a unique opportunity for those who wish to become authors in a more professional sense. TikTok is ideal for profiles to sell their work by posting ‘hooks’ from their books to draw in readers and incentivise them to read or buy their book. Authors could range from those using writing websites, such as Wattpad or AO3, to indie authors using this method to market their books. There are a lot of indie authors who have gained a large enough readership and attention through the promotion on TikTok, that they have signed traditional contracts with publishers.
From a different aspect, artists can use these platforms to display their works on characters, scenes, and places from different books. This encourages viewers to buy their prints or sign up for a paying subscription, such as Patreon, to see more and the artist earns a profit for their hard work. If an artist gains enough attention, the publisher or author can license them as an official artist of the fandom. Their art can be sold in Special Editions or merchandise.
However, the benefits these platforms offer also come with numerous downsides. There are plenty of accounts who are scammers, active on BSS groups and even those trying to steal the works of other artists. Recently, there has been an increase in ‘flipping’ of books – but these negatives will be discussed further in a follow up article. The most important thing is that once identified as a scammer, there is a community response to protect others and stop them from causing further harm.
The bookish community has always been a strong and much-loved group that has been around for decades however, there has been a significant increase in the exposure and popularity of books – offering a gamechanger for authors, publishers, artists and the like. There could be many reasons for this, such as during COVID-19, a lot of people turned to books as a form of escapism. With the formation of ‘BookTok’, more people are exposed to books, new releases, and can end up getting trapped in the world of books. The emergence and acceptance of previously shunned fandoms has led to silent fans being able to openly enjoy their books across Bookish communities.