Algorithms can’t provide moments of serendipity
In 2022, Amazon closed its own bookstores, which were supposed to compete with the local businesses it had already weakened with its online offer and Kindle device. For booksellers, the reason behind this failure is the lack of human recommendations that customers crave in their local bookstore. Kindle’s suggestions and random Amazon reviews can’t compete with browsing and being guided by someone passionate enough about books to accept a bookseller’s salary.
‘I don’t think that big chain bookstores have much of a future,’ Mike Shatzkin, co-author of The Book Business: What Everyone Needs To Know, told LS:N Global. He believes successful bookstores will be more personal and specialised businesses targeting specific groups of people with similar interests.
‘Tomorrow’s bookstore will have a personal character and attract people who respond to that idiosyncrasy. There might be one in Pittsburgh that I really like. And there’s nothing like it in New York or Dallas, because the bookseller in Pittsburgh started a store about the history of American manufacturing given they used to have steel mills there.’
The rise of BookTok
With an astonishing 114bn views and counting, #BookTok is one of TikTok’s most engaging online communities where readers share reviews, recommendations and book-related content worldwide. That’s why librarians and bookstores joined the video platform to ‘meet [young readers] where they are’. Booksellers are promoting their range of books while jumping on trending sounds and dance challenges to grow their community of followers and brand awareness. The BookTok community even propelled several books onto The New York Times Bestseller list. The China-based platform invests in BookTok’s potential and has announced new partnerships with HarperCollins UK, WH Smith, Bloomsbury and Bookshop.org, all of which will sell books via TikTok’s online marketplace.
‘We’re delighted to be making it even easier for book-lovers to buy the latest BookTok recommendations without ever leaving the platform, while also providing new avenues for publishers both large and small to reach their audiences,’ says TikTok Shop’s senior director of e-commerce, Patrick Nommensen.
In Q4 of 2022, TikTok generated over £292m ($350m, €328m) in in-app revenue. This is more than Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat combined in 2023, according to Adam Blacker, a vice-president at mobile metrics company Apptopia.
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