The pandemic gave birth to a new generation of book lovers
- Being a book nerd doesn’t make you a loser
- The younger demographic, 25% of TikTok users are between the ages of 10-19, a vital age
- Many childhood book lovers found themselves rekindling their passion for reading
“I started my ‘bookstagram’ account because of personal reasons, I had no idea there would be a whole community waiting for me, -.” says book influencer Sarah Löwy.
Back in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic forced the public to remain indoors for months on end, many childhood book lovers found themselves rekindling their passion for reading.
Immersing themselves in fantasy worlds and reading book after book to escape the tragedy that was taking place just outside.
Gained fame and fortune
The pandemic birthed a new generation of book loving fanatics who took to social media to create dedicated accounts and find others with similar interests.
Many of these accounts never took off and were soon abandoned unlike the hundreds of book lovers who gained fame and fortune out of their #bookstagram and #booktok accounts.
As two of the most popular social media platforms in 2023, it’s no wonder these devoted communities have arisen.
The Instagram hashtag #bookstagram harbours an ever-increasing 89 million posts. A whopping 45,000 of these bookish users are followers of book influencer Sarah Löwy’s bookstagram page ‘xsarahreads’.
Where you can find daily book recommendations and reviews on the newest releases with aesthetically pleasing images and short videos.
Sarah began her account back in 2020 with the intention of updating friends and connecting with fellow book lovers. Little did she know that a few months down the line, her once casual bookstagram account would begin rapidly gaining followers.
“If I remember correctly, I had around 200-300 followers a few months after I made my account public and I was flabbergasted and couldn’t believe that people from all around the world were interested in what I was posting.” Sarah says with pride.
Despite the work Sarah put into making her account a hub for book lovers, she still finds herself in disbelief of the success she’s had as a book influencer.
Instagram algorithm did me a favour
“Sometimes when I log into my account I stare at that number and still believe that it’s all a mistake. I feel like the Instagram algorithm did me a favour and randomly chose me, because some of my friends posted way nicer reviews and photos and never got the same attention.” Sarah tells me.
“But yes, having 44,000 followers and reaching around 130,000 people per week probably makes me a book influencer.”
But what is a book influencer? As Sarah tells me, anyone with a large following and a passion for reading can be a book influencer but the job itself is not as easy as it seems.
“There are pros to being an influencer. You get sent advanced reader copies which are books that haven’t been released yet. There’s brand offers and paid ads, and then there’s the community and being able to make so many new friends. –
“Then there’s the disadvantages like there will always be people who systematically disagree with everything you say.
I’ve gotten quite a few hate comments and messages because people automatically hate you for no reason when you have a ‘large’ following,“ Sarah says. –
“It’s also very time consuming. Not posting anything in 24 hours?
The algorithm will let you suffer. Not posting anything in a few days or weeks? You are literally cancelled. So yeah, it requires a lot of time and patience.”
With 95% of UK households owning at least one mobile phone, social media has become the most convenient way for book lovers across the world to communicate with one another.
This is something that social media co-ordinator Faith-Leigh Harrison describes as being one of the main contributors to the rise of digital book communities.
Steaming cups of coffee
As I sat across the table from Faith, steaming cups of coffee in our hands after taking shelter from the rain outside, it became evident that her knowledge of the topic is vast.
From the short period of time she had immersed herself into booktok and bookstagram, she found herself feeling the same disbelief that Sarah had in the beginning stages of her bookstagram fame.
“A few weeks ago, I posted a TikTok under the hashtag Booktok to promote second-hand book selling and it only took a few seconds for the views to shoot up and the engagement was almost instant.” Faith says.
Faith highlights a major contributor that I found to be rarely mentioned when researching the reasons behind the success of Booktok and Bookstagram:
The younger demographic. 25% of TikTok users are between the ages of 10-19, a vital age where fear of judgement can be a difficult obstacle for these adolescents to tackle.
Sharing online every corner of the world
“You might not know anyone in your personal life that you feel you can connect with in terms of what you enjoy doing and that leaves a gaping hole in your social life that social media can fill.” Faith tells me.
Sarah shared similar thoughts, taking us back in time a few years when reading books wasn’t necessarily a cool hobby to have and definitely not something people were sharing online.
“Social media has made reading ‘cool’ again. People now think of it as ‘aesthetic’ and being a ‘book nerd’ doesn’t make you a loser anymore, it makes you ‘that girl’.”
As Faith points out, the algorithm on social media platforms acts as a safety net for users to confidently share their interests without the fear of being judged.
“On social media you curate the feed you’re scrolling through by what you’re liking and engaging with so if you’re liking book content then you’re going to find yourself entering this huge cyberspace of people who are liking the exact same things you are,” she explains. –
“It’s a safe space for people from every corner of the world to come together and just be themselves so I think that’s something that really contributed to the rise of booktok and bookstagram.”
There was one final question I was desperate to have the answer to when talking to both Sarah and Faith.
With the rise of booktok and bookstagram and the growing popularity of online book communities, is there still room for the classic in-person book clubs, the group reads and meetups every week?
Sarah took to the question with just as much enthusiasm as she had when describing her passion for social media.
“The book sphere is still very ‘old-school’ in certain aspects so although internet book communities are definitely more popular and easier to access.
There will always be people that prefer real life meetings and face-to-face communication.”