Today in Books

Is TikTok Saving Print Books and Bookstores?

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Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

Publishing industry news has been pretty heavy this last week (catch up on allegations against Neil Gaiman and Alice Munro if you’re wondering why). Let’s take a midweek break with some lighter fare.

The Most Anticipated Books of the Rest of the Year

The folks at Lit Hub have released their list of the most anticipated books of the second half of 2024, and it’s as eclectic and interesting as you want a list like this to be. Election years tend to be on the quieter side, as publishers are aware that new books, especially those released between September and November (historically, THE season for big books), have to compete with an increasingly bonkers news cycle. This feels especially true looking at the line-up for the remainder of the year, though there are a few heavy hitters to look forward to, including Louise Erdrich, Sally Rooney, Rumaan Alam, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. What’s at the top of your list?

A Rising Tide

Buoyed by Kristin Hannah’s The Women and BookTok’s favorite romantasy series, print book sales were up 1.1% year-over-year in Q2, nearly offsetting a Q1 decline and taking us into the second half of the year with an H1 loss of just 0.4%. The rise in print sales is accompanied by last week’s news that foot traffic is up in Barnes & Noble stores, a trend that appears to extend to Books-A-Million and Half Price Books as well. There are two interesting nuggets here: 1) people are buying more print books, and 2) they’re doing it in brick-and-mortar stores.

So, what’s going on? It’s impossible to know for sure—correlation doesn’t prove causation and etc—but I’d guess that a shift in macroeconomic vibes is part of it, and visually-oriented social media is another significant factor. If you want to participate in the latest TikTok trend, you need the physical book. Publishers are pumping out special editions and sprayed-edge hardcovers (Barnes & Noble even devoted a whole segment of its list of the best books of 2024 so far to them) to stoke the demand, and it seems to be working. The increase in foot traffic is harder to pin down, but TikTok demographics could have something to do with it. Many of the users driving the romantasy trend are teens who may not have their own credit cards and/or whose parents prefer to shop with them IRL. Not to mention all the content you can make out of your trip to the bookstore! Additionally, there seems to be a slow but steady upward trend in Amazon’s pricing of hardcovers, which may make online book shopping less compelling. Are we seeing a generational shift in consumers’ incentives or a temporary, trend-driven pop? Only time will tell.

Double the Adaptations, Double the Fun

Emily Henry, who will adapt her latest novel, Funny Story, for a feature film, is now batting a thousand on the page-to-screen scoreboard. Henry, who kicked off the contemporary rom-com craze (and whose book designers we have to blame for the fact that all rom-coms look the same these days), has now sold all five of her popular novels for adaptations. Funny Story is the first one she will be writing herself.

In other adaptation news, Lev Grossman is back! The author, best known for The Magicians series, which the SyFy channel spun into a fun and occasionally campy series adaptation, has sold the rights for his new novel The Bright Sword, a reimagining of the legend of King Arthur, for series development. The Bright Sword comes out next Tuesday, July 16th and already has the stamp of approval from Book Riot’s Jeff O’Neal, who praised it on a recent episode of the Book Riot Podcast.

Book Riot’s Best Books of 2024 (So Far)

Time is a construct, but we still believe in holding the mid-year checkin for the actual middle of the year. This year’s Best Books So Far list is every bit as diverse and eclectic as a Book Riot list should be, equally stocked with familiar faves and under-the-radar finds.

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