Has Booktok and Bookstagram Ruined The Reading Experience For Everyone? Let’s Investigate


If I had to compare Booktok and Bookstagram to a pop culture phenomenon, I would compare it to the Marvel Universe. Look at the similarities; both of them have their own good, bad, or, mind you, annoying moments. Anyone who likes to read must be falling into the algorithm’s Booktok and Bookstagram section once a day, especially if you read romance novels. Personally, I have always loved lighthearted, frivolous romance books, but in the past few years, it appears that this online community’s credo is to only read fanfic-wattpad-quality writing.

Additionally, it has fostered a collective mindset where readers almost hate writers and characters, impairing their discernment. The bookstores are busy highlighting these Insta-Tiktok famous books, and at this time, it appears to be evident that they are the ones bringing in the cash.


Identity Crisis

Many people tend to find that Booktok and Bookstagram are detrimental to the book industry. To cut a long story short, Booktok and Bookstagram has become less about reading and more about the experience of being a reader, or just the aesthetics. This trend claims that most of the books are fluff-driven but end up promoting the same five plots in different fonts. This makes us question, at the end of the day, whether everything is commercial, or are Booktok and Bookstagram shallow.

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It has created an unintentional or intentional gatekeeping system that establishes standards for what constitutes a book lover and how many books they should possess, which is quite elite in its own way. Because apart from the people who consume these trending best-selling books, you will have a set of people looking down on you for choices. Certain users can experience pressure to adhere to particular aesthetic standards, which could result in their curating bookshelves impeccably and reading performatively. This tendency towards aesthetics has the potential to dilute reading’s genuine meaning and turn it into a superficial fashion statement.

Why the hate?

Before I claim to be a book critic or a book snob, I must admit I adore silly reads myself, and it’s valid to read and promote such books, but can a community of millions on social media just label that personal taste equals quality? The multiple defending comments are, “I loved it because I did; I don’t get why people would say negative things just because they weren’t into it.”

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This connection, nevertheless, can create an excessive focus on aesthetics at the expense of authentic reading experiences. Even if you don’t fit any of the above requirements, you’ve definitely seen a notice promoting Booktok at your local library or bookstore because it has such a large impact on the literary business as a whole. It’s enormous, and I genuinely think that it has helped thousands of individuals develop a passion for reading, which is a huge plus.

Treat It Like A Hobby

What people tend to often forget that reading is a mere hobby and there isn’t a good or a bad way to pursue it. And those who criticise others for “not engaging in this hobby correctly,” in my opinion, ought to consider what their remarks really imply about them. Full-time office goers might not enjoy deep and poignant literature and often pick romance or feel-good books because they simply want to unwind, have fun, and switch off. End of the day nobody is forcing anyone to read a Booktok book that they don’t want to read or find demeaning; everyone is free to enjoy what they want!

Authors and Accountability

While few of you think it’s not that deep, it’s low-key concerning. All of this still keeps the debate of accountability and the impact of problematic books on the best-selling charts. At one place, we have Sally Rooney, who is the flag bearer of airport books in a good way, and on the other, we have Colleen Hoover, who is vastly glorified by the TikTok business.

And without a filter, one of the weirdest novels I’ve ever read is her most well-known book, It Ends With Us, which has sold four million copies and is also the most contentious of the books made popular by TikTok. The book’s plot deals with domestic violence without giving away too much about the narrative. The purpose of this book is to provide a horrifying and depressing examination of the devastation that results when someone you love uses violence. Most surprisingly, it fails to do so, transforming what is a common, terrible experience into romanticising it.

Pros And Cons

We asked the industry insider Chaitanya Srivastava, Sr. Publicist and Communications Executive, Penguin Random House India & SEA, who said “As a book publicist who has also been active on Bookstagram long before I started working professionally, I cannot help but acknowledge that both of these communities have had a massive influence on people’s reading choices. What strengthens this argument is how innovative creators have become despite the constantly decreasing human attention, using all sorts of unique and creative content to cleverly promote books in various ways—ranging from aesthetics, mood boards, cosplays, and quotes, to more lifestyle-like features where one showcases the book in a charming café setting. They know how to pull the viewer in, and once they have their attention, they will highlight the book(s) that need to be on your to-be-read list.”

But as every coin has two sides he added, “While it is true that both Booktok and Bookstagram communities tend to focus on specific genres such as romance, science fiction & fantasy, young adult, and almost-erotica (referred to as smutty books), and it is hard to find mainstream creators talking and promoting literary fiction, translations, or non-fiction, credit must be given to them for discovering and promoting diverse voices from marginalised communities, people of colour (POC), Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC), and LGBTQ+ authors and their stories apart from the usual mainstream books by cishet authors.”

The Verdict

In conclusion, has it really ruined reading? The answer is no. You will come across the number of folks who have picked up a book again after ages due to a reel showing up on their Explore page. The Booktok and Bookstagram trend has helped bookstores lure the crowd again, even in an age where print is dying. It may be getting criticised for its overuse of emphasis on aesthetics and lack of quality, but it also fosters community, exploration, and literary appreciation. Given the algorithmic nature of Booktok and the complexity of identity and aesthetics in the digital age, it is imperative to approach the platform and its impact on reading habits with delicacy.

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We may recognise the benefits of Booktok and be conscious of preserving an authentic reading experience by adopting a balanced viewpoint. Stated differently, the fact that young people aren’t reading the books you want them to read doesn’t mean that reading is destroyed. Reading is going great: folks are buying books, discussing their favourites with one another, and gobbling up volumes.

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- Digital Writer


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