Indigo looks to TikTok and #BookTok to drive sales

Indigo is joining the club—the #BookTok club that sees TikTok users sharing book content, and has been credited for a surge in book sales over the last couple of years.

The Canadian book and lifestyle retailer has partnered with TikTok to launch the #BookTok Book Club, featuring a new book and author each month. It will post in-app content and for its first book, Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao, is hosting a live in-person event at a store in Burnaby, B.C. that will be live-streamed on the popular social platform.

Indigo’s #BookTok Book Club is being promoted through a multichannel marketing campaign that includes social, online, blog, media relations, influencer marketing and a Top View Launch Video on TikTok.

Social media has been used for virtual book clubs for some time—before #BookTok there was Bookstagram—and Indigo has hosted a number of different versions, including a “BFF Book Club” through a partnership with Bumble, for example.

But TikTok has emerged as the platform for book lovers to connect and share content around the #BookTok hashtag. Industry experts say the #BookClub phenomenon has led to a significant surge in book sales.

While Covid and more time at home likely explains part of the sales spike, the #BookTok hashtag has been viewed more than 42 billion times. At the same time book sales in the U.S. rose 9% last year, surpassing 825 million print books sold, a record-breaking year according to NPD BookScan.

And Indigo said TikTok was a factor in strong sales with younger readers, as well as demand for backlisted titles.

“We know that the popularity of reading seen on TikTok is driving book sales, because of the correlation between trending books in conversation amongst TikTokers and those books sales in our stores and online,” said Madeleine Löwenborg-Frick, Indigo’s director, corporate communications. “Nearly instantly, as particular reviews or hashtags pick up interest, we have seen those books in discussion appear on our top searches on our website and/or our sales.”

Indigo has been on TikTok for more than a year working with creators and posting its own content, and has created #BookTok tables in store and collections online, said Löwenborg-Frick. “This partnership was the natural next step in our relationship with TikTok community as readers look to both Indigo and #BookTok to help find their next great read.”

David Brown