BookTok to Book Publishing: Another Content Giant Enters The Industry

BookTok to Book Publishing (1)



Immensely popular video-sharing giant Tiktok’s parent company, ByteDance, is launching a new publishing arm called 8th Note Press, which aims to focus on self-published authors. After Tiktok generated massive popularity and sales results for books, the parent company decided to monetize this opportunity and also publish and market books. 


What does this mean for people who were using TikTok to market their books? Does this impact Indian authors and publishers in any way? Especially since Tiktok is banned in India?


Let’s decode these questions!



We all spend hours on our phone scrolling through Instagram reels and more recently, YouTube shorts — but Tiktok had a massive following for its short format videos much before Instagram and YouTube. Tiktok is a Chinese social media platform that allows users to share short videos, and gained worldwide popularity after merging with another Chinese social media service,, in 2018. 


As of 2023, Tiktok has been downloaded 3.5 billion times worldwide, is available in 150 countries, and has over 1 billion monthly active users!


It is owned by parent company ByteDance, a Chinese internet technology company that owns several subsidiaries, like Tiktok’s Chinese counterpart Douyin, an information sharing platform, its first app, a platform for circulating memes and jokes, and many more content platforms. 


The Indian government banned Tiktok in June 2020, and several other Chinese apps over the fear that the company had access to users’ data. The government stated that Chinese apps posed a ‘threat to national security’. This came immediately after clashes at the Indo-China border in 2020.


The government was fearful that the data available to Tiktok, along with its advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence, could be used for targeted advertising or even political manipulation. Before this, Tiktok had around 150 million monthly active users in India.


What does this have to do with the publishing industry?




Last week, a New York Times article reported that Tiktok’s parent company, ByteDance, was looking to enter the world of publishing after changing the way books are discovered online. 


Around 2020 a sub-community on Tiktok, called BookTok, became immensely popular. It started as a hashtag by a group of book lovers, and it quickly became a massive trend. It consists of several accounts dedicated to reading and sharing book-related content. It has become one of the world’s biggest communities for book lovers on social media. Like Instagram’s Bookstagrammers and YouTube’s BookTubers, BookTokers are influencers with a devoted following of literary lovers worldwide. BookTok has over 29.1 billion views, and many big bookstores like Barnes & Noble have dedicated sections to the BookTok community. 


Several authors, including Jenny Han, author of the trilogy “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”, Taylor Jenkins Reid, known for “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and “Daisy Jones and the Six” and Colleen Hoover, who has 1.4 million TikTok followers and whose books have sold more than 24 million copies, rose to fame because of BookTok.




Fuelled by the immense popularity of BookTok and the kind of impact it has had on the publishing industry, ByteDance has decided to launch 8th Note Press, an “ecosystem where people could find, buy, read, review and discuss books”. 


According to reports, they plan to focus on self-published authors, and it seems they are interested in fantasy, romance and mystery — the most popular genres on Booktok. The company plans to offer comprehensive online marketing services, along with an advance and royalties.


Several authors and Tiktok users are worried about this development.



Booktok could suffer if ByteDance boosts their own authors. Authors who are not publishing through them may not get the visibility that authors signed with them do. 


How will this impact traditional publishers? Could Booktok’s massive popularity monopolize the publishing market with attractive offers and wider reach?


Is this a step towards democratizing the publishing industry? Will this venture work alongside self-publishing to make the process of publishing and selling easier for previously unpublished authors?



What does this mean for a country like India that has banned Tiktok?


If ByteDance cannot use Tiktok for marketing, will it even be profitable to enter the Indian market? Considering the fact that the government has banned several Chinese apps, it is probably safe to assume that 8th Note Press may not enter the Indian market any time soon. 


So, does its potential ban in India mean that the Indian publishing market is saved from being monopolized, at least for a while? Or are people interested in self-publishing missing out on something big? 



While the impact on India remains unclear, and the effect on the publishing world is yet to be seen, 8th Note Press is creating ripples in the market even before its launch. 


Aishwarya Javalgekar, Head of Originals, decodes this topic in this week’s episode of ‘The Book People’.

Written by Rheea Mukherjee

Rheea Rodrigues Mukherjee is the author of The Body Myth (Unnamed Press /Penguin India 2019) which was shortlisted for the Tata Literature Live First Book Award. Her work has been published and featured in, Southern Humanities Review, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Vogue India, Out of Print, TBLM, and Bengal Lights, among others. She co-founded Bangalore Writers Workshop in 2012 and currently co-runs Write Leela Write, a Design and Content Laboratory in Bangalore, India. Rheea has an MFA in creative writing from California College of the Arts.