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There’s nothing quite like a good book to take your mind off the economy blowing up.
Bloomsbury, the UK publisher famous for publishing the Harry Potter series, reported on Wednesday that it saw a 15% increase in sales year-over-year to February 28, accompanied by a 16% increase in profit. The company seemed to chalk its success up to two unlikely allies: the current macroeconomic hellscape, and TikTok.
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Inflation
With the cost of living so high, Bloomsbury’s CEO Nigel Newton says books have found their niche as affordable entertainment. A key ingredient in Bloomsbury’s ability to cash in on hard times is a specific genre perfect for escapism: fantasy. The publisher flagged upgraded guidance in March, and said then that more and more readers are turning to fantasy book series. “People have had too much reality, they’re turning to books as an enjoyable form of escape from quotidian worries,” Newton said at the time.
Another factor working in Bloomsbury’s favor is “BookTok,” a.k.a. The part of TikTok where users recommend books to each other. Some articles have turned up their noses at BookTok, saying it’s more about aesthetics than actual reading — not that it matters to Bloomsbury’s sales department:
- A jewel in Bloomsbury’s crown is the books of Sarah J. Maas, fantasy young adult novels that have a knack for going viral on BookTok. Bloomsbury has contracted Maas for seven more books to plump out her growing oeuvre.
- The publishing industry is actively trying to stoke BookTok, and last year Penguin Randomhouse struck a deal with TikTok to let users link out to specific books in their videos, as well as recruiting influential BookTokers.
Think Of The Children: Much as TikTok and its social media forerunners have been blamed by some for obliterating children’s attention spans, it’s possible it’s actually given reading among children a boost. The 2023 edition of the UK and Ireland What Children Are Reading report, found kids read 25% more books compared to the previous year, and specifically called out BookTok for stimulating interest in reading. However, this stat does come with a footnote, as the report found older children were reading less advanced books, rather than progressing onto more complex reads. In other words, Charles Dickens needs to learn a few more dance moves.