‘Organic Social Media Phenomenon’: TikTok Drives Demand for Young Adult Fiction Novels

Some people go to TikTok to see fun snippets of dogs popping out of watermelons, learn new dances, or find cooking tips.

Others are there for book recommendations – using the hashtag #BookTok.

These recommendations tend to lean toward young adult fiction novels – and have contributed to an almost 70% increase in demand for the year to date through April compared to the previous year, according to the NPD Group data.

Over 10 million young adult fiction novels were sold during this period. That’s a new record for 2014, when 8 million copies of young adult fiction books were sold, according to NPD.

“What’s even more remarkable is that this growth is happening even without the ties to the films that have driven the category in the past,” NPD said in a report published Tuesday.

Two of the most read books so far this year are Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End, a 2017 thriller about two strangers who both find they have a day to live, and “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart, a 2014 suspenseful novel documenting a group of family friends’ vacations on a private island.

Silvera himself is on TikTok (@adamsilvera) and has nearly 13,000 subscribers.

“This is the first time we’ve seen an organic phenomenon on social media spontaneously pushing books off bestseller lists without any sort of marketing or sales promotion from publishers,” said Kristen McLean, book industry analyst for NPD.

“Although they are still in their infancy, we are encouraged by the potential of this growing trend when it comes to new avenues of discovery for the young adult fiction market.”

As for the non-TikTok crowd? During this year, children’s books such as “Dog Man: Mothering Heights,” an illustrated children’s graphic novel written by Dav Pilkey, rose to the top.

Meanwhile, adults read travel and murder mystery books, like Lucy Foley’s “The Guest List,” according to recommendation engine TasteDive.

Among New Yorkers, the most widely read book since the start of the pandemic was Brit Bennett’s “The Vanishing Half,” a historical work of fiction spanning the 50s to 90s that explores race and identity. HBO T,
recently acquired the production rights for a limited series based on the book.

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