Where does the modern-day literary genius go to air views on all things bookish? Of course…BookTube! Wait…what the hell is that? Well, it’s YouTube but instead of tubing about you, you tube about books.
Maybe you’re a YouTuber looking to venture outside of your daily norm vlogging about what you had for breakfast. Maybe you crawled out of a hole in the ground you’ve been living in since the cold war and just found out about the internet. Whatever your circumstances, if you’re interested in learning how to start a booktube channel in 2021 this list is for you.
How It Works
Booktube is an unofficial community of YouTubers who talk about books. YouTube is your platform, books are your subject. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the web is your oyster. Tell us anything you want about your favorite book and if we care, we’ll tune in. Maybe we’ll even squish the little thumbs-up button. If you keep us hooked with interesting content we may even smash the “subscribe” tab. Simple as that.
Let’s Get It
When learning how to booktube it’s best to start at the beginning. Many passionate readers with a lot to say about the works of art they are deeply affected by don’t realize they already have a platform available. Some feel they don’t have what it takes to get in front of the camera and speak their minds because they don’t know how to start booktube content creation. Fear not, nobody really knows what they’re doing. All you need is a passion for books! These suggestions should be enough to help anyone get started.
- Customize your channel: The most important thing about how to get started on booktube is creating a YouTube channel dedicated to content that focuses solely on books. Reading, reading habits, writing, favorites, most hated. Give us something juicy to sink the teeth of our minds into.
- Get some gear: The built-in camera on your computer works fine for the CIA but it might not be good enough for your BookTube viewers. If you want to learn how to booktube with the best, consider investing in a decent camera and microphone. Don’t worry, investing in your BookTube set-up doesn’t have to break the bank. Check out this article for some solid gear suggestions for BookTubers.
The Booktube Formula
There are no requirements for how to join booktube. However, there is a conventional format successful BookTubers use as guidelines for building a following. The standard formula is by no means required, but as the old adage goes, it helps to learn the rules before you break them.
- Write a script. Writing a new script every week may seem like a daunting task, but this is your biggest ally. If you want to pump out quality content, a short script is your best friend. Don’t be misled by the word “script.” This should be a simple bullet point outline of speaking topics that help guide you through filming.
- Be consistent. Post a new video once per week to build a following. This means reading a new book every week, outlining a new episode, along with filming and editing. Streamline the process by writing your next “script” as you read the book you’re going to talk about. Note speaking points you want to address and simply consolidate your notes into bullet points before filming. Don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic and excited in your videos–this will only help! In fact, it’s kind of a must. Just press record and go for it. Remember, you can always edit out the flubs and dead spaces later.
- Monthly book hauls. #Bookhaul has been very popular in the YA BookTube community for quite some time. A monthly book haul video consists of buying up a large number of books– either at the bookstore or online–and talking about why you’re excited to read them. This is a great way to increase viewer engagement and get conversations going in the comments section of your video.
- Bookshelf tours. This is just what it sounds like. Giving viewers a tour of your bookshelf lets people know what you’re all about by giving them a snapshot of your taste. Breaking your bookshelf into sections allows you to release more content, rather than posting one long droning video of your entire collection. A general BookTube rule of thumb is to keep your videos under 10 minutes to ensure viewers stay interested.
- Wrap-up videos: These consist of a brief overview of books read within a particular amount of time–the week, month, or year. How often you do a wrap-up depends on how much you’re reading and how often you’re releasing content. Doing a monthly wrap-up makes a lot of sense for the active BookTuber releasing weekly videos. It’s almost like a bonus video. You’ve already done the heavy lifting–just recap and post!
A Brief History Of BookTube
There is no one person who started booktube but rather a community that sprang up around 2010. Since then, BookTube has grown from a few nerds into an international community that includes the publishing industry. Bel Rodriguez currently holds the largest BookTube following, boasting a subscriber count just shy of 1 million. While BookTube has grown substantially in popularity, it still exists on the fringes of YouTube. For reference, Swedish gamer and comedian PewDiePie has 109 million subscribers and holds the title of most subscribed-to account operated by an individual. Gamers rule YouTube. How big is booktube? Small compared to some online communities, but growing…and the future of the community depends on more active BookTubers joining. So if you’ve got a lot to say about the books you love and despise, say it on BookTube. Draw inspiration from BookTubers who are hitting it hard and building a following.
This author and active BookTuber posts weekly videos all about “the business of being an author & making an income as a creative entrepreneur.” A noble cause, and one we’re definitely interested in as writers and film freaks. With over 14k subscribers and 600+ videos, Mandi Lynn is building a solid channel with an ever-widening reach. Having an active BookTube channel certainly doesn’t hurt for promoting her novels.
Check out Jean’s channel for great book nerd content. An interesting take on the BookTube format–pure fandom. For viewers who are curious about what goes on in their favorite YA author’s heads, interviews with authors are Jean’s thing. Oh yeah, and plenty of footage from Comic Cons of years past.
Kayley digs book hauls but also posts videos about her skincare routine and thrifted home decor. Hey, there are no rules! At 45k subscribers and thousands of views per video, whatever she’s doing is working. In addition to her weekly vlogs, she posts monthly book hauls. She’s a prolific and opinionated reader–9 books last month!
Books With Emily Fox
Emily Fox is a prolific BookTuber with a huge following. She posts about three videos per week on average, and they’re all about books. With subjects ranging from “best first lines” to calling out publishers to “step up their game,” Fox gets creative with her content and she’s not afraid to be bold. She’ll tell us what she LOVES, she’ll tell us what she HATES, and she’ll do it all in front of her colorful bookcase.
The Book Belle
Lucy The Book Belle works in the publishing industry and she’ll give you the inside scoop on her channel. She also reviews books that made her cry, favorite historical romance novels, and regular reading vlogs. Curious about the life of a young book publicist? Want to know how to get into publishing? Love tear-jerkers? Then The Book Belle is the channel for you.
The YA Revolution And BookTube
Why is booktube all YA? Well, it’s not all YA, however most of the content on BookTube centers around the YA genre. The recent YA surge is all about gen Z–the first generation to grow up completely hypnotized by the blue light. Kids in the YA age range (12-18 years old) require technology to communicate thoughts and ideas to the world and they do it better than anybody. Although YA books are certainly not limited to readers within the target audience (readers over 30 are responsible for almost half of YA sales) the youth are the power players in today’s YA BookTube scene. They’re unafraid to speak their minds on camera and blast it to the world because they grew up on screens and tablets.
The Sponsorship Controversy
Publishers send advanced reader copies to successful BookTubers to read and review the latest YA releases before they hit shelves in order to create hype. This perpetuates the cycle of YA content ruling the BookTube world, but it doesn’t have to be the fate of the platform. Booktube has been around since 2010 but has exploded over the last 5 years along with the YA genre. The BookTube community has done a lot to encourage teen readership, but there have been a few drawbacks as well. The publishing industry and BookTube are entangled in a cycle of dependency, which leads to less diversity in the community as a whole.
With YA publishers sponsoring YA-centric content creators, some feel BookTube is being overshadowed. The YA genre and BookTube community are growing up together, hand in hand, and with growth comes pain. However, over the next five years, BookTube is likely to see more diversity represented among its creators and content as the community matures and viewer expectations change.
Booktube is a Community
In 2020 there was a bit of a BookTube overhaul on Reddit where users called out the platform for being ruled by young white girls concerned only with YA. “Where are all of the Black BookTubers? Why is adult content underrepresented on BookTube?” Valid and important questions, indeed. The answer is complicated. Yes, more adults and people of color need to create BookTube channels and pump out passionate content. More importantly, the publishing industry needs to get on-board and sponsor a more diverse range of hosts and content to help the BookTube community thrive. More voices need to be heard.
The BookTube platform is open to anybody, which is both empowering and daunting depending on your views. This is the bottom line. If you’re obsessed with a book one way or another and feel compelled to share about it with the world, BookTube is your community. Listen to that impulse and go for it. There are no prerequisites other than a passion for reading and a computer with an internet connection. Go forth and create amazing content! You just might inspire others to read more, or maybe even start a BookTube channel of their own.
Patrick Salway is a writer, musician, and actor living in Los Angeles. Follow him on social media @blone_noble and @veneer_publications. Listen to VENEER.
If you enjoyed this article be sure to check out The 9 Most Important YouTube Analytics for Book Trailers
Need a book trailer? Film 14 offers book trailers for authors and services such as audiobook recording, book cover design, and more! Check us out here, or shoot us an email! Want to make your own book trailer? Check out our free guide!