Passionate, young student readers post videos, and so all the while, influencing both followers and publishers.

An app known for serving up short videos as various as dance moves, fashion tips, cooking tutorials, and funny skits, TikTok is not an obvious destination for book buzz. 

But videos made by women in their teens and 20s have come to dominate a growing niche under the hashtag #BookTok, where users recommend books, record time lapses of themselves reading, or sob openly into the camera after an emotionally crushing ending.

These videos are starting to sell a lot of books, and many of the creators are just as surprised as everyone else.

''I want people to feel what I feel,'' said students Mireille Lee, 15, who started @alifeofliterature in February with her sister, student Elodie, 13, and now has nearly 200,000 followers.

Many Barnes & Noble locations around the United States have set up BookTok tables displaying titles including ''They Both Die at the End,'' ''The Cruel Prince,'' ''A Little Life'' and others that have gone viral.

There is no corresponding Instagram or Twitter table, however, because no other si=ocial -media platform seems to move copies the way TikTok does.

Many popular TikTok users have strategies to maximize views. They might iuse background songs that are already doing well on the app, for example, use TikTok's analytics to see what time of day their posts do the post and try to get up videos on a regular schedule. But it's still tricky to predict what will takeoff.

''Ideas that take me 30-seconds to come up, those do really well, and the ones I work on for days or hours, those completely tank,'' said Pauline Juan, a student who, at 25, says feels ''a little older'' than many on BookTok.

Mariam Parker, a vice president and associate publisher at Ecco, which released ''The Song of Achilles,'' said the company saw sales spike on Aug. 9 but couldn't figure out why.

It eventually traced it to a TikTok video called ''books that will make you sob,'' published on Aug.8 by @moongirlreads. Today, that video, which also includes ''We Were Liars,'' has been viewed nearly six million times.

The person behind @moonggirlreads is student Selene Veler, an 18-year-old from the Los Angeles area who joined TikTok last year, while finishing high school on Zoom. She said she made the ''books that will make you sob'' video because a commenter asked her for tear-jerker recommendations.

Ms. Velez, who has more than 130,000 followers on TikTok, said that publishers now send her free books before they hot the market so she can post about them, and she has started making videos that publishers pay her to create, as well. The fees range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per post.

John Adamo, the head of marketing for Random House Children's Books, said it now works with about 100 TikTok users. Once a title takes off on TikTok, he said, the machine of publishing cans tart to get behind it.

Big retailers can discount it, a publisher might start running ads, and if a book becomes a best seller, that also leads to more sales. But without TikTok, he said, ''we wouldn't be talking about this at all.''

The World Students Society thanks author Elizabeth A Harris.


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