Rise of the young #BookTokers: Fans of smutty books share their favourite ‘spicy’ scenes
- Sales of spicy romance novels are seeing a huge boost, largely down to TikTok
- Must read: How a self-published antiwoke US author becomes huge hit on TikTik
It has been known to propel certain authors to global stardom and heavily influence bestseller lists – but now #BookTok is having a new, and rather steamy, impact.
As users on the social media platform promote smutty romance novels, publishers say books categorised as romance and saga fiction in Britain have risen by 110 per cent in three years and are now worth £53 million.
The rise – the largest since the 2011 release of EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey – is thought to have come about by fans posting on TikTok.
To date, the #romancebooks hashtag has had billions of views on the platform, making it the biggest sub-genre within the #BookTok community.
TikTok user @jams_reads, who wears a hjijab, is among the Brits promoting the romantic novels on the platform. In one video, she recommended a historial tome, saying: ‘You know when you come across a book that scratches part of your brain that you didn’t even know needed scratching? Then you read the plot and it just gives you everything.’
BookTokers are prompting a boost in sales to sexy, steamy novels (pictured, Poppy, 27, from Sussex, who said these spicy romance novels ‘absolutely changed my life’)
Celine, who has 16.5K Followers on the platform, made a funny video about the people who read smut and how differently they reacted to it (left). Meanwhile TiKTok user Livv.Reads often shares her recommendations for different sub-genres within the romance novel genre (right)
#Booktoker Kate Wilson, 17, from Shrewsbury, previously told the Mail that ’emotional books and tearjerkers’ are very popular on the site, adding: ‘Everyone’s crazy for romance and sad endings.’
The hashtag #smuttok has also garnered billions of views, with ‘spice books’ – essentially books with sexual content – hugely popular with younger readers.
Maddy Marshall, a senior marketing manager at HarperFiction, told The Bookseller that the popularity of romance among TikTok users had persuaded bookshops to dig into previously unfashionable catalogues.
‘BookTok has had a huge influence in driving a resurgence in romance fiction, especially backlist,’ she said.
She added: ‘Readers are calling out for more books featuring a diverse range of characters, with better representation of race, gender and sexual orientation.’
Among those who are promoting the boom in sales is TikTok user Poppy, 27, from Sussex, who often shares clips with her ‘spicy book recommendations’.
Referring to the Crossfire series by Sylvia Day, she said: ‘This was the first spicy romance series I ever read and it absolutely changed my life.
‘I’ve re-read it multiple times since.’
She urged readers to buy the first novel in the series, Bared To You, which features affluent New York protagonist Gideon Cross who becomes obsessed with a woman in his office, Eva Tramell.
TikTok user @jams_reads, who wears a hjijab, is among the Brits promoting the romantic novels on the platform
Tammi recommended several of her favourite romance books, including a series by Talia Hibbert about the Brown sisters
Posting on TikTok under BookishbyTammi, Tammi gave a host of recommendations of her favourite spicy books
‘I promise you will not look back,’ she added. ‘You will have to buy the second book.’
Another fan Tammi, from London, posted a TikTok video in which she said: ‘I’ve read 131 books this year.’
She then recommended Seven Days in June by Tia Williams – described as a second- chance love story that manages to capture Black spirit, humour and redemption.
Tammi said: ‘It not only has a beautiful romance. It also deals with childhood trauma and breaking generational curses.’
She then talked about ‘the queen of rom com,’ Talia Hibbert.
She said: ‘I cant get these characters out of my head. Friends to lovers. And frenemies to lovers.’
She added that she also loved the toxic romance trope of Magnolia Parks by Jess Hastings and that she would also recommend Lovelight Farms by BK Borison and Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun.
Celine joked that different readers of smut had different facial expressions, especially the ones confused by positions
Some posters were also keen to advise people on how best to get started in the world of spicy, sexy romance.
Shelby Jackson, 29, from the South West, posted on TikTok: ‘So somebody messaged me asking what books I would recommend to someone who has just dipped their toe in romance.’
She then said: ‘My first three recommendations are really easy on spice and plot.’
She went on to recommend The Ex Talk by American author Rachel Lynn Solomon, adding: ‘It follows a producer working at a radio station and there are some really funny and relatable moments.’
She also recommended Set On You by Canadian author Amy Lea which she called a ‘stellar debut’.
The book, she explains, follows Crystal, a plus-size body positive influencer who meets a man called Scott at a gym.
Shelby added: ‘The banter that they share is childish and funny. I loved it.’
She also rated The Simple Wild by KA Tucker, describing it as a beautiful story, written beautifully’.
And – for those looking for something more spicy – she suggested the basketball romance series the Hoops by American author Kennedy Ryan.
While some of the posts were serious and earnest, many of the BookTok videos were funny.
TikToker Em, from Australia, often shares her recommendations with her 10,000 followers – including one video where she suggests books with unforgettable smut scenes
Em enjoys erotic scenes from the books she buys, highlighting a boat scene and a massage oil scene – one of the many videos enjoyed by BookTok fans
This fan of BookTok seems to enjoy smutty and sensual scenes in various different vehicles, be them limousines, trucks or boats
Meanwhile Celine, who has 16.5K Followers on the platform, posted a video about the different types of readers who are reading smut.
In a hilarious post, she mimicked the ‘beginner reader’, who looks confused and anxious by what they are reading.
She then mimicked the ‘one always confused by positions’.
Lastly, she did a straight-faced reading impression for those who are experienced readers of smut.
TikToker Em, from Australia, often shares her recommendations with her 10,000 followers – including one video where she suggests books with unforgettable smut scenes.
On TikTok, the video included the boat scene from Does It Hurt by HD Carlton, the locker room scene in Corrupt by Penelope Douglas, the limo scene in King of Wrath by Ana Huang, and the massage oil scene in Hook, Line and Sinker by Tessa Bailey.
In another funny video, Livv.Reads – describing herself as a book and smut addict – posted on TikTok, books with unforgettable smut.
These included God of Malice by Rina Kent and Mad Men by Onley James, plus With Force by Daisy Jane.
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