Bookshop Table Trends
By Aisling O’Mahony, Mary Karayel, Hayley Cadel and Alexandra Constable
Though publishers excel at advertising their books, bookshops have their own methods of promoting the titles they think will sell best by displaying them face out on shelves or placing them on single-title or themed tables. These tables are often not only for new and popular titles, but can also serve to highlight books and authors that might not be as well-known. They provide an opportunity for booksellers to draw attention to their favourite books and give a sense of each shop’s individual character. Grouping similar books together, they make it easier for readers to find something new they’ll like based on what they’ve enjoyed before. For more introverted customers, tables can be a particularly helpful way to get book recommendations without personal interaction. Here is a focus on some of the most popular themes we’ve noticed cropping up on bookshop tables.
As TikTok has become increasingly prominent, it has turned into a popular platform for users to talk about their favourite books. This has, in turn, prompted a rise in book sales. Not only new books have gained fame on TikTok, or “BookTok”: several backlist titles have enjoyed a new rise in popularity on the app. For instance, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, published in 2011, has become hugely popular again in the past year or two because of TikTok. A particularly popular trend on BookTok consists in users highlighting sad titles – such as We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – alongside videos of themselves crying. Though readers also use Bookstagram and Twitter to highlight their favourite books, these platforms haven’t impacted book sales as significantly as TikTok has. Many bookshops have caught onto this trend and created specific tables or sections devoted to these titles, capitalising on the increased interest created by TikTok.
There is thus no doubt that TikTok has begun to shape the publishing industry. Classic novels by authors such as Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen are enjoying a newfound popularity that is rooted in visceral rather than purely intellectual responses to texts. TikTokers capture the essence of well-loved classics through a series of pictures, music and short, snappy captions, and, in doing so, market these novels to younger generations in a relevant and contemporary fashion. Many of these TikTok users are English graduates or long-time booklovers attempting to reframe classic literature as an enjoyable and accessible canon, rather than a daunting place reserved for those with years of experience trawling through difficult texts.
And from the new, to the old, with classics remaining as popular as ever. According to current UK copyright laws, an author’s work enters the public domain seventy years after their death, giving publishers the opportunity to create new, special editions. Following the film Dune, there has been a renewed interest in science fiction. This has been well-documented on Bookstagram, with the new edition of Frank Herbert’s novel coinciding with the film’s release. Thanks to social media’s focus on aesthetics, these special editions accommodate this trend by photographing well, notably the Virago Modern Classics, the Vintage Classics and the Penguin Classics.
Bookseller and Personal Recommendations
Who is better equipped to recommend books to the general public than booksellers? They are surrounded by books from different publishers, different authors and a range of different genres. Booksellers have a rich knowledge of publishing trends, so we implore you to check out the bookseller recommendation table in your local bookshops. One of my favourite local bookshops, BookBar in Islington, has a whole section of their website dedicated to their favourite books. Some of their previous recommendations include This Lovely City by Louise Hare, Luster by Raven Leilani and Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters. They also have a monthly book club to make finding your next read all the easier and more sociable. Whilst we here at The Publishing Post are not booksellers, we thought we would mention our personal favourites until you can visit a bookshop table: Music Love Drugs War by Geraldine Quigley, The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. Regardless of author, year of publication or publisher, reading off the staff table will ensure you get a perfect read!