TikTok Owner May Launch a Publisher As Role in Book Marketing Grows

  • TikTok owner ByteDance applied for a trademark for a book publishing entity called 8th Note Press.
  • The company is also hiring staff to “discover and sign authors” and ensure “novel completion.”
  • ByteDance may be looking to build on its success with #BookTok by experimenting with publishing.

TikTok has become a popular destination for readers to discover new books, driving up publishing sales and sparking a thriving community on the app dubbed #BookTok.

Now its parent company ByteDance may be building out its own publishing arm. The company in April filed a US trademark application for a new book-publishing entity that would be called 8th Note Press.

The musical name could be a reference to TikTok’s iconic music-note logo, though the company isn’t mentioned in the application and a ByteDance spokeperson said that the initiative was not related to TikTok. The spokeperson declined to comment further on the project, noting that ByteDance is always exploring new opportunities.

Included among a broad list of possible services for 8th Note Press are the “publishing of books, e-books, and audio books”; software for users “to participate in discussions, consumer reviews, and social networking in the fields of fictional books and short stories”; and “retail book store services.”

ByteDance’s 8th Note Press application arrives as the company has begun recruiting staff for publishing roles like an online publishing team lead and an acquisition editor to “discover and sign authors” and “ensure writer delivery and novel completion,” according to a job listing.

The company has experimented with online publishing in other ways. It currently runs platforms for authors and readers in the US and abroad named MyTopia and Fizzo. Fizzo offers a variety of author benefits like copyright protections, editor services, and financial incentives for writers who publish a certain number of words each month.

Whether ByteDance plans to convert BookTok’s success into a separate publishing product remains an open question.

TikTok has already tested the waters of using its influence over other areas of media to build new business lines. After becoming a key platform in music discovery, for example, the company launched its own song-distribution and artist marketing platform, leading some in the industry to wonder whether it planned to go head-to-head with record labels and music publishers.

TikTok wrote in April that the hashtag #BookTok had been viewed over 126 billion times across 19 million videos. Executives at publishing firms like Simon & Schuster and bookstore giants previously told Insider the platform had become a focus of marketing teams looking to drive attention to new and old books.

“It’s huge, beyond anything in my career,” said James Daunt, CEO of Barnes & Noble and of British bookstore chain Waterstones. “It’s bringing energy into the bookstores.”

2022 was the second biggest year for book sales in the US since 2004, per data from US book-sales tracker NPD BookScan. About 780 million copies of books were sold last year, a 5.8% dip from 2021.

Are you a ByteDance employee with insight to share? Got a tip? Contact Dan Whateley at dwhateley@insider.com using a non-work device. For secure messaging via Signal or another platform, reach out over email to connect.

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