Booktube: I have seen the future, and it has great hair.

Three months ago, I didn’t know what “booktube” meant. I was aware on some level that vlogging existed, and some vloggers must talk about books; and that sometimes book *bloggers* made videos, but I didn’t realize it was its own thing. That it’s not just an offshoot of book blogging, but has its own (much discussed, of late) culture.

Since making this momentous discovery, I’ve found a few booktubers that I really enjoy.  It’s hard to keep up, though. Book blogs are easy to follow because it’s quiet, I can do it surreptitiously, and I can quickly scan a post to see if it’s of interest. With booktube, it’s loud, I can’t multi-task, and a five minute video takes five minutes to watch. I can’t browse it or scan it.

Despite these drawbacks, I feel like the medium is gaining momentum. I don’t have any stats to back me up, but I get the feeling that book blogs have reached some critical capacity; there are too many for the system to support. Booktube, on the other hand, is new and shiny and YOUNG. My goodness it’s young. And judging by the drama that’s going around the community, it’s growing.

A few more random observations:

1. Flailing. My number one criteria for following a booktuber is a soft, calm speaking manner. I don’t need you to be Ben Stein, but I watch booktube late at night, after a long day with a toddler and a preschooler, so the last thing I want is to be SHOUTED at, squealed at, or flailed at. There’s… a lot of flailing on some of the popular channels. Be warned.

If I want to see flailing, I will watch Nicolas Cage in Face/Off. Or anything.

If I want to see flailing, I will watch Nicolas Cage in Face/Off. Or anything.

2. Book reviews are tough to find. Booktube is big on “hauls,” but I’m more interested in how booktubers translate reviews, which I’m used to reading, into interesting videos. I really like videos that fall somewhere between a haul and a review: a themed group of mini-reviews.

3. Booktubers have tons of followers and videos get a lot of views. More so than blogs, I would say. I’m not sure if that’s because the blogosphere is saturated and booktube is new, or what.

4. Diversity. It’s no secret that that book blogging is dominated by young white women. I’m noticing more diversity on booktube, maybe because it’s, well, visible. I think booktubers skew even younger than bloggers though, and I don’t think I’ve found ANY parents yet. There are plenty of us book bloggers with young kids, but not so much on booktube. It makes sense; the logistics of having the time, space, and quiet to make a video, let alone look presentable, are pretty daunting.

5. Booktubers tend to have GREAT hair. And skin. And make up. I think there’s some cross-over potential with Beauty YouTubers. I would totally watch a “get ready to film your next book haul” hair and makeup tutorial.

 

How I roll. PJs, couch, 11:00 p.m. on a Friday, flattering laptop screen lighting.

How I roll: PJs, couch, 11:00 p.m. on a Friday, flattering laptop screen lighting. NOT ready for my close-up.

Bonus #6: I hate the word “booktube.”  It sounds gross. “Booktuber” is even worse, it makes me think of a potato.

Booktubers you should follow immediately:

Bazpierce: Hilarious, snarky, obsessed with classics. He went on hiatus just as I subscribed, and I may have audibly squealed when I saw this come back video. Oh, and his commentary on the recent booktube drama-llama is perfect.

The Heavy Blanks: Great hair. Great voice. Tons of CanLit. Very thoughtful. Oh and he’s local! I promise you haven’t seen a haul like this:

Ron Lit: She is hilarious and smart and talks about all the dirty bits in the classics. Here’s a good example:

Words of a Reader: Great taste in classics. Owns the A Tree Grows in Brooklyn t-shirt. Just hit 10K subscribers and is doing some cool stuff to celebrate:

Climb the Stacks: Solid reviews and discussions of contemporary books. This recent video makes me want to read all these books and cry for days (well not The Poisonwood Bible, didn’t like that one at all!)

Librarian FanMail Another CanLit superstar! I loved her review of Edi Edugyan’s Dreaming of Elsewhere. 

Oh yeah, remember that time I made a video? Also, tell me about your booktube experiences!

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19 comments

  1. Fariba

    Thank you for mentioning Bazpierce earlier on your blog. I think you mentioned that channel about three months ago. Since then, I have been following Barry’s videos and have been introduced to booktube in general.

    I would like to add to your list that 95% of booktubers review YA lit. Thankfully, I have found some booktubers who read more widely. Book hauls and bookshelf tours do get old after a while, I must admit. But not many do reviews since reviews get less hits than hauls. I personally prefer blogging because reviews are still highly valued. And and that’s why I started sharing what I read online.

    • lauratfrey

      You’re not the first to say that about Bazpierce. He’s great!

      Yes, that is true and I was thinking about that while writing. I think the same is true of book blogs, though maybe it’s more like 80%. I had a similar experience when I found out about book blogging in 2011 or so. I was like, what is with all this drama? Then I realized I was looking at blogs written by teenagers and it made sense 🙂 You just have to find your tribe, like anything else.

  2. Amy Sachs

    I’m SO HAPPY you posted this, because the flailing and screaming in some of the videos is so off putting to me too. I also thought I was the only one who didn’t like the term “booktube.” I like Rosianna Halse Rojas’ channel too, she posts about a lot of things but her book reviews are great: quick and very genuine.

  3. Naomi

    I have been hoping to avoid Book tube, since I don’t even have time to follow all the blogs I try to follow, as well as keep up with my own. Maybe if I stopped reading. These ones do look good, though. Also, I have a guess as to why they have so many followers. I’m wondering if it’s because it’s more entertaining to watch people talk about books, and less work, than it is to read about books. Like watching TV versus reading a book. I know which one I would choose, but I’m not sure I’m in the majority. Loved the Dreaming of Elsewhere review.

    • lauratfrey

      I know what you mean. To me, it seems strange to make a video rather than write. If I were to make a video, I would end up scripting it anyway, so I may as well just write it, you know?

      I keep up with a few people, mostly those I posted here and a handful of others, but it’ll never replace blogs for me, or even come close!

  4. ebookclassics

    Yay! I was so excited that you were working on this post and will check out these vloggers (if I can pull myself away from Netflix). Excellent choice of Nic Cage gif, I must say.

  5. Alice

    Climb the Stacks is the only Booktuber I like. At the moment anyway, I’m hoping there are more like her about. I find I prefer a more intellectual approach to Booktubing, rather than book hauls and YA ones which I see a lot of. (Which I think probably makes me sound a little snobby.)

    I tried my hard at Booktubing once, never uploaded it, I was too dull.

    • lauratfrey

      I know what you mean. I don’t think it snobby, because book blogs are the same – most are YA and most are in a different tone than I prefer – the written equivalent of flailing 🙂 Like blogs, you just have to find the ones that work for you.

  6. Nish

    Thanks for this post. I’ve heard about booktubers too (hate the word), it’s never been something I’m into primarily because I have a very low attention span when it comes to video, reading just comes easier to me.

    Also, I guess I don’t know anyone to follow. These vloggers you’ve featured sound good, and I”ll probably check them out to see if they can change my opinion about video posts.

  7. Pingback: 2015 Book Blog Discussion Challenge – Booktube | ebookclassics
  8. Natalia Maria Barberena

    Favorited 🙂 is it wrong of me to want to listen to baz voice all day long ❤ his accent. I have had good experiences with The heavy banks glad his a fellow canadian ❤ for him. I agree with the over hyped up vocie being used a lot, I tried doing that in my old videos when I was making youtube vids until I realized I NEED AN EXPENSIVE CAMERA ! yeah this whole over hyped up voices I have seen in popular channels doesn't seem to fit me. It feels fake like when I see a lot of people do that. I like having conversation about books and book ish thing,I will give baz videos ago. I just don't want more young adult when I am trying to expand my reading, I do tend to read a lot of young adult. this is a good resource to have near you.

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