Is TikTok a friend of the literary world – or its worst enemy?

However, there’s more than one way to become a successful Booktokker, and Anex Wilson, a 22-year-old medical student at Imperial College London and fantasy fiction fanatic, doesn’t care to follow the trends. “I’m just talking about what I’m reading right now. I don’t have a plan or a list, that’s what I want to read at the moment. I could read the first book in a series and not be ready for the second and move on – or I could read a single author for weeks because I’m obsessed with that person at the time. Nevertheless, his personal tastes have earned his channel “FantasyAnex” almost 200,000 followers and 3.3 million likes.

“Some of my most popular videos are the ones where I give fantastic recommendations in response to questions – like ‘I have ADHD and have trouble reading long books, can you suggest something shorter? ?” or “I haven’t read a book in a while, can you suggest something to revive me? »

Others are more in-depth, short video sequences that dive deep into issues not necessarily explored much in the actual books. One of his videos examines the controversial question of why there aren’t many dwarves involved in Lord of the Rings death battles when they feature so heavily in The Hobbit. Another popular video “talks about the ages of the LOTR characters – mentioning that Frodo is so much older than Samwise or that Pippin is technically still a child, which will make people look at the books in a different way and hopefully it, to improve their reading experience.”

Wilson has been using BookTok for about a year, but his channel really took off in March of this year. “I went from 40,000 to 180,000 [followers] in two weeks, which was insane and quite surprising since I wasn’t doing anything really different, but the videos seemed to interact with people more.

Edwards and Wilson both previously had their own book-talking channels on YouTube, but “BookTube” never took off in the same way. “The amount of videos was much less and I was doing one a week at most – 10-15 minute videos that take a lot longer to edit,” says Wilson. “There was also this feeling on YouTube that you have to come out perfect and you have to have a perfect camera setup, do multiple takes of the same thing, whereas on TikTok I stick to about a minute and that makes a lot more free form.

Edwards agrees. “TikTok feels much more organic and more improvised, and you can be a creator without any technical skills. You can spend hours and hours creating beautifully crafted Tiktoks, but sometimes it’s those impulsive instant videos — I came up with the concept 10 seconds later, I had — that end up going completely viral.