While publishers, authors, and booksellers have eagerly jumped on board with BookTok in the past year or so, with some books seeing massive increases in sales after going viral on the platform, I’ve noticed that book bloggers are not necessarily as keen on the app as others. Several times a week, I see bloggers in blog posts or on Twitter saying they aren’t on BookTok and asking if other people are, or asking if someone who is on the app can explain something about it to them.
Initially, I thought this was just a vaguely interesting fact. Then I realized this is possibly publishers should be taking note of. While the focusing of marketing departments seems to be shifting strongly to BookTok (of course with some Bookstagram and Booktube thrown in), publishers might inadvertently be overlooking a very avid group of readers who spend a significant amount of money buying books for themselves and for others each month (i.e. bloggers).
First, to confirm my suspicions that book bloggers are not overly present on BookTok, I looked at the Book Blogger Stats Survey I am currently running (you can answer it by clicking here), and I ran a poll on Twitter asking bloggers if they are on BookTok. (Respondents should be specifically bloggers, not Youtubers, Instagrammers, etc.).
On the survey, I ask book bloggers where THEY spend the most time consuming book-related content. At the time I am drafting this post, there were 70 responses, though there will likely be more by the time I post the results of the whole survey. While I do think it’s notable that only 50% of bloggers spend most of their time reading other blogs, what also strikes me is that NO ONE said they spend the most time on BookTok. (Shout-out to the one person who ranked BookTok and blogs equally though.)
On Twitter, there were fewer responses, but roughly 64% of bloggers said they are not on BookTok at all, and nearly no one said they spend a lot of time on the platform.
Why Publishers Should Still Be Focusing on Bloggers
What does this mean for marketing? Basically, that’s there’s a base of extremely avid readers/bookk buyers who likely are NOT going to be reached by any marketing on TikTok, even if it goes viral.
While I understand that BookTok has the potential to move and sell books to the general public at a volume that blogs simply cannot compete with (seriously, I get that bloggers are not going to make a book suddenly sell 10k copies in a week), I do think publishers should keep in mind that bloggers are still a noticeable segment of book consumers, and it’s worth courting them.
There are tens of thousands of book bloggers, and many of them buy dozens of books each year, either for their personal libraries or to give away to friends and family, or even to donate. Book bloggers are people who can read 100+ books a year and who might spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually on buying books, depending on their income.
And, of course, bloggers don’t even need to spend tons of money on books to make an impact. Most bloggers don’t just blog. They are on multiple platforms, and if they read and enjoy a book, they can end up posting about it in numerous places, including Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. They may recommend their local library purchase the book or suggest their local indie get it in stock. Book bloggers are book lovers and do a lot of marketing that just isn’t easily quantifiable.
I’ve long thought that one of the challenges of increasing profits as a publisher is that there are simply a lot of people who do not read at all, or who only read a handful of books a year (let’s say, four). This is a segment of the population they basically cannot sell their products to, though they have been innovative in terms of selling non-reading books (ex. the coloring book craze) and creating numerous editions of the same bestselling book (so someone who’s read Throne of Glass can buy six different collectible versions of it and spend money on books without actually committing to reading more books).
Yet bloggers are generally voracious readers who read frequently and widely, so, as bloggers lament that publishers seem to be forgetting they exist and seem to be sending them fewer ARCs, I do think it’s worth keeping in mind that this might be a marketing mistake. Yes, bloggers don’t make books go viral like BookTokers do, but they are an avid consumer base for books. There’s probably some value in thinking about sending ARCs and other opportunities to bloggers are marketing to bloggers themselves as reader, not just using bloggers to market to the general public. And anyone not looking to market to them at least a little is likely missing out on some opportunities.