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Monday musings on Australian literature: And now it’s booktubers

October 29, 2018
Book Stack

(Courtesy: OCAL, from clker.com)

Well, actually, it’s not quite “and now” because booktubers have been around for a while – apparently. Or, so I read in an article, sent to me by occasional commenter here Neil. (Thanks Neil.) The article is from ABC RN’s The Hub program: it contains a link to the segment on the radio program, as well as a written article about booktubers. One of the booktubers has been posting videos for 9 years! Fascinating.

Here is the link on the ABC’s website, if you are interested.

It’s probably not surprising, however, that this corner of the book-internet has escaped my notice because, firstly, booktubers seem to come, primarily anyhow, from a younger generation than mine, but secondly, and probably more significantly, booktubers apparently tend to be lovers of fantasy and YA fiction, neither of which are big (as you’ll know) in my reading diet. However, we are ecumenical here at Whispering Gums in our interest in book and reading culture, hence today’s post.

So what or who are booktubers? Well, firstly, booktubers are, if I understand correctly, a subset of vloggers (ie video-loggers). In other words, they are book reviewers who, instead of writing their reviews on a blog, present them orally via a video service like YouTube.

Some Australian booktubers

  • G-Swizzel Books(Grace): Commenced 2015, with nearly 5,000 subscribers. Marvel Books, are among her special interests.
  • IsThatChami (was Read Like Wildfire): Commenced in 2014, with nearly 20,000 subscribers. She seems to do more than books, but books feature in a significant number of her vlog posts.
  • Happy Indulgence (Jeann Wong): Commenced in 2014, with nearly 2,000 subscribers. A recent vlog post of hers was about a book haul. Her audience is comparatively small, but she told the ABC that she also blogs and Instagrams about books, and has a good relationship with publishers.
  • Little Book Owl (Catriona Feeney): Commenced in 2011, with over 181,000 subscribers. According to the ABC, she’s our most popular one. Fantasy fiction is apparently her specialty. An example is her recent vlog post on unboxing book boxes.
  • Noveltea Corner (Stef): Commenced in 2014, with nearly 2,000 subscribers.
  • Piera Forde: Commenced in 2011, and now has over 32,000 subscribers. earlier this month she posted a video on setting up bookshelves in her new home. She also likes fantasy, and the ABC report quotes her as saying that “Apart from BookTube, I rarely see reviews of fantasy fiction in newsletters or in the paper.” She needs to check out the Australian Women Writers Challenge, and our Speculative Fiction Round-ups. There are many many fantasy fiction book bloggers – not newspaper reviews I know, but they are written form reviews.
  • Tilly and her Books: Commenced in 2014, with over 14,000 subscribers. YA and Fantasy seem to be her main interests.

You can find more Australian booktubers at The Noveltea Corner. I haven’t checked them all out, and some seem to have not posted for some time, but it’s a start if you are interested.

As well as talking about books, these bloggers seem to talk about their reading lives – about unpacking book boxes (their book hauls), for example, or setting up their book shelves. Apparently, according to the ABC, “book haul” posts are a “sub-genre wherein BookTubers name-check recent yet-to-be-read acquisitions.” Like book bloggers, they’ll do posts on top reads, or recommending books on a theme. Little Book Owl, for example, produced one last week for Halloween. Indeed, in my quick survey, I saw more of these general vlog posts, than ones specifically reviewing one or two books.

Interestingly, the three identified by the ABC are all young women. Most of those on Noveltea’s list are women (just a couple of exceptions) and another list I found of ten favourite international booktubers seemed to be all women too.

The ABC noted that publishers are recognising the influence of this “new wave of digital-native bibliophiles.” Digital natives they may be, but I’m loving that they love the printed book. Many of them, when describing their book hauls, comment on the physical book – on its feel, its look, its size and weight. And they do so with obvious passion and delight. They don’t seem to be heavily into e-books – which corresponds with some recent research which suggests that younger readers still prefer hard copy for their recreational reading.

Anyhow, back to the publishers … the ABC quotes Ella Chapman, who is head of marketing and communications at Hachette Australia. She says that the booktubers enable them to “tap into a readership that perhaps we haven’t been able to reach via traditional means.”

I’ve enjoyed my little introduction to this booktuber phenomenon, and love that there’s an enthusiastic bunch of younger readers out there communicating about books. Their focus seems to be different to mine, and their presentations tend to be a bit too fast and excited for me. I think I’ll stick to blogs, but supporting diversity in how we share and engage in literary culture can only be good for us all.

Have you come across any booktubers? And if you have, do you have favourites?

50 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2018 5:35 am

    I’ve looked at a few book tube channels (none of the ones you list though) and decided they were not for me. They tend to be very fast delivery and very little substance in terms of content – too many of them were just gushing about all the books they had acquired. They reminded me of the people who do make up/fashion videos.

    • October 30, 2018 8:02 am

      Yes, that’s what I found in my brief foray, Karen. They are clearly for a different audience to ours aren’t they… But there’s space for us all, isn’t there.

      • October 31, 2018 7:36 pm

        There must be people who like them judging by the number of hits some of them get…

        • October 31, 2018 8:10 pm

          Thanks Karen. The number of subscribers for some of them is astonishing isn’t it?

  2. October 30, 2018 7:15 am

    Not for me either I have watch a couple of them

    • October 30, 2018 8:06 am

      Thanks Stu…. I don’t think that’s surprising is it. I didn’t see much literary fiction, let alone translated in my brief but tried-to-be broad survey!

  3. Meg permalink
    October 30, 2018 7:27 am

    Hi Sue, like you I have never heard of them and have never watched them. I rather read the words of a review than listen to one. I take more in..

    • October 30, 2018 8:07 am

      Yes, me too, Meg. I like that when I read, too, that I can pause and think over something. Whenever I listen to something, I want to be writing to help make it stick!

  4. October 30, 2018 8:47 am

    Thanks for posting this introduction to Booktubing. I have occasionally checked out some of them. I believe that a few do cover serious literature. The few that I checked out put on a good presentation. Like many other things in life, the lack of time prevents me from delving further into the world of book tubing.

    • October 30, 2018 1:16 pm

      Thanks Brian. I’m sure there are some serious booktubers out there but they are clearly hard to find. The work involved in presenting them is impressive, I thought, but as you say, even if I found some serious ones time would be an issue.

  5. buriedinprint permalink
    October 30, 2018 9:04 am

    There are definitely some booktubers who read and review literary fiction, but I tend to read the few sentences of summary that they offer on their blog and that works for me. I already watch more things than I would like (and have an app which tracks my movies and my TV viewing so I know exactly what I do watch), so I would rather read a blog post in a few minutes than watch a 10-15 minute-long video. But I know that’s probably my middle-age talking! 🙂

    • October 30, 2018 1:21 pm

      I’d love to see one just to compare Buried, but like you I prefer to read (and ponder) than watch this sort of content.

  6. October 30, 2018 9:10 am

    Not for me, basically for the same reason I don’t follow podcasts, because I can read a review much more quickly.
    But I did come across one once, not exactly a booktuber, but an American man who reviewed the movie of Muriel Spark’s strange book The Driver’s Seat. (You can find it here: https://anzlitlovers.com/2014/10/15/the-drivers-seat-by-muriel-spark-read-by-judi-dench-bookreview/) It was hysterically funny and I loved it.

    • October 30, 2018 1:24 pm

      Ah thanks, Lisa. Yes, I’m not surprised of course that they wouldn’t be for you. Like you I don’t follow podcasts either though I know there are some great ones out there.

  7. October 30, 2018 9:25 am

    PS I forgot to say: Trevor at The Mookse and the Gripes is one that I know of. I used to follow Trevor slavishly when he wrote on his blog and was one of the Shadow Giller jury members. But he lost me (and gained plenty of others) when he monetised his blog so that it’s plastered with annoying ads – and I think he does booktubes as well as podcasts.

    • October 30, 2018 1:25 pm

      Yes, I used to follow him to but fell away when he seemed to change. I didn’t realise that he did book tubing too.

      • October 30, 2018 2:57 pm

        It’s a shame, but hey! it’s free and we can’t complain:)

        • October 30, 2018 11:04 pm

          Very true … we just have to go with the flow – and we are equally free to choose, eh?

  8. October 30, 2018 10:19 am

    I watched a few as they reviewed new Penguin book series they were collecting and talking about. Penguins are fun to talk about to those of us who verge on OCD in collecting numbered books. I enjoyed their enthusiasm but tired after awhile . Can’t we waste an inordinate amount of time when we seek to see what bookish delights are out there!?🤠🐧

  9. October 30, 2018 4:52 pm

    I saw the same article – somehow I have acquired a RN feed on facebook, though my daughter has recently showed me how to get rid of the ones I don’t like (it sometimes works, though I suspect it’s harder to deter sponsored posts). Not for me, I dislike people talking at me. 181,000 followers though! it’s hard to imagine so many young people passionate about fantasy.

    • October 30, 2018 11:05 pm

      It sure is, Bill, though fantasy is big. Beats me, why, but I guess fantasy lovers are probably mystified about what I love!

  10. October 30, 2018 8:32 pm

    I must be an old fogey because this is the first time I’ve heard of booktubers. I’d rather read a review about a book than watch one but can see booktubing would be more popular with a younger audience.

  11. October 30, 2018 9:29 pm

    I love watching YouTube and enjoy a range of channels, and not just female YA/fantasy readers. There are channels for all kinds of readers and genres.

    • October 31, 2018 8:07 am

      Thanks very much Tracey. If you could point me to one or two closer to my interests I’d love to check them out. I love the bright enthusiasm of the ones I saw – I hope that doesn’t sound patronising – but would probably prefer something a bit more measured.

      • November 2, 2018 5:43 pm

        Okay, I really want to recommend people you’ll love to hopefully change your mind a little about BookTube. Oh the responsibility! Okay, here goes:
        – I love SavidgeReads, he’s in the UK and loves Aussie books, start with this one here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhtmc1M9zwk It’s his Australian Reads, Recommendations & TBR for August 2018
        – Steve Donoghue is an older booktuber based in the US. He’s funny and intelligent, the most prolific reader I know and reads a variety of genres. Some might call him ‘high brow’ but he’s warm and very relatable. Try his ‘get to know you’ book tag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcuQm20NZJU

        I’d love to hear if you (or anyone else reading this) give either of these a listen 🙂

        • November 2, 2018 7:01 pm

          Well good for you Tracey for rising to the challenge. For that I will definitely have a listen – maybe over breakfast in bed tomorrow. (Why do you keep going into moderation here I wonder since you’ve been approved before?)

          Anyhow, I do know SavidgeReads but don’t get to his blog much. I didn’t know he was a booktuber. And a funny one appeals to me. I’ll let you know how I go.

        • Neil@Kalleroo permalink
          November 2, 2018 8:02 pm

          Listened to both. Mr Savidge left me feeling highly embarrassed. I only recognised a few of the authors. I must re-view, with pen and pencil at the ready.

          Steve Donoghue annoyed me a little. He seemed to swallow when he was saying titles and authors. So, for example, I don’t know what his favourite book is. Grr!

        • November 3, 2018 9:17 am

          Good for you Neil. I,ve just listened now. Loved Simon. I’ve heard of all but one of the books he mentioned – the Price – but have only read 10. Of course he hasn’t read them all, either. I love that he really liked The night guest.

        • November 3, 2018 1:38 am

          Thanks so much for listening to both of these Neil, especially when you said below you ‘had no desire to’. So thanks for giving them both a try. I love when I haven’t heard of a book being discussed on any platform (blog, website, video etc) so don’t feel embarrassed about not knowing the books Simon was talking about. Isn’t that why we love to engage with other booklovers? To share our favourite books and discover new ones? Maybe that means you might like to watch more of Simon’s videos… fingers crossed 😉

          Sorry Steve got on your nerves though, do you want me to recommend another one of his for you? He does so many, but I remember he did one on his ‘reading habits’ a long while ago that was interesting. But if he annoyed you just by swallowing (LOL), then maybe he’s not for you.

        • November 3, 2018 9:24 am

          Thanks so much for these Tracey. That’s what I was looking for. I loved Simon… His presentation and his choices. I know all those books, but one, though have only read 12 (I miscounted when I commented to Neil.) Simon has great taste to my mind!

          Like Neil though, I liked Steve less… But if you want to recommend another go ahead. I don’t have a good handle from that on his likes, but his attitude to reading, ie to whizz through to get them done and into the next one is not at all my approach to reading, even though the TBR is overwhelming.

          Anyhow, you’ve given me an idea for another Monday Musings! If I can get it together.

        • Neil@Kalleroo permalink
          November 3, 2018 1:40 pm

          Hi Tracey, I’m happy to give Steve another go. I probably just need to get hearing aids, but I’m putting this off as long as I can!

          Have to work out whether I’m willing to suggest a Steve selection as my book for book club, without reading it. I remain diffident!

        • November 3, 2018 3:43 pm

          Haha, Neil … I email diffident too. I agree with his assessment of Shakespeare but am not sure otherwise about his preferences and mine.

        • November 5, 2018 12:22 am

          Hi Neil & Gums, I tried to find another video by Steve to recommend, but kept thinking ‘oh, they might not like this… or that’ etc. He has soooo many to choose and I decided that if he isn’t for you, there’s no point forcing it. Instead I’ll recommend videos by Jen Campbell (published author and previously worked as a bookseller). She loves fairytales and regularly reads poetry but always has a variety of books to talk about. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwME97IPvhAXAV_bbgAvOtw
          You might enjoy her style.
          At the end of the day, if you liked Simon’s videos my job here is done. I’ve managed to show there are definitely booktubers worth watching and channels for every type of reader to enjoy. Ultimately I agree, that if I have time I’d rather spend it reading, but having this kind of video on while I’m doing a mundane task is often my preferred choice. I’ll be interested in seeing your Monday Musings idea Gums….

        • November 5, 2018 8:41 am

          Haha, Tracey… I can just imagine your uncertainty once it’s been planted. I think you are right though that your job is done, and I thank you greatly for your effort. I have subscribed to Simon!

          I will check out Jen too though.

        • Neil@Kalleroo permalink
          November 6, 2018 5:38 pm

          Tracey, thanks, I think! Had a look at Jen. Looked at her Christmas list. Mistake. The books looked interesting, though nothing yelled out “Buy me” for myself or as a gift. But the game “Ex libris” caught my fancy. Should fit in nicely with the after lunch activities on Christmas Day! I have sent off an order.

          You have done well!

        • November 6, 2018 5:46 pm

          Haha, Neil … love it!

          I wish we had such after lunch activities on Christmas Day. Our pattern has always been to collapse in exhaustion.

        • November 8, 2018 11:19 pm

          That’s so great to hear Neil! And I wish my family would play board games with me on any day of the year, let alone Christmas Day. Hope it brings you all joy.

        • November 9, 2018 8:21 am

          Yes! My daughter and I played Scrabble last year (and my Mum would have loved to if she were a bit younger and able to last the distance) but getting Mr Gums involved is a different thing altogether.

        • Neil@Kalleroo permalink
          November 9, 2018 1:46 am

          Tracey, any time you want to play a boardgame over the Net, let me know!

        • November 9, 2018 8:21 am

          There Tracey – an offer!

  12. Neil@Kalleroo permalink
    October 30, 2018 11:04 pm

    Gums, my pleasure.

    I have not looked at any booktubers, and feel no desire to do so. But, just to show I am flexible, I am quite happy to watch boardgamers review boardgames on YouTube. I guess that’s appropriate because boardgames have lots of visual components.

    • October 31, 2018 8:08 am

      As you can see Mr Gums dutifully passed the link on. I love it when people send me things like this. Do the boardgamers do indepth reviews?

      • Neil@Kalleroo permalink
        October 31, 2018 1:35 pm

        Thank you to Mr Gums!

        Yes, boardgames do in depth reviews, sometimes taking 20 to 30 minutes. They also do “How to play” sessions, so a standard YouTube is somewhere in the middle. I sometimes look at them when I am thinking about buying the game. And I sometimes look at them when I am playing a game, but haven’t come to grips with it. (One of the major problems with online games is you don’t see your opponent move, so picking everything you can do in a situation can be difficult. A good how to video can fill in some of the gaps.)

        • October 31, 2018 8:08 pm

          You learn something new everyday. We have a friend who’s big into boardgames. I’ll have to ask him if he watches these. (I agree that How-to videos can be a great help with all sorts of skills.)

        • Neil@kallaroo permalink
          October 31, 2018 11:22 pm

          Ask him if he plays online through Yucata or BoardGameArena. We could have a tussle!

        • November 1, 2018 7:54 am

          I will try to remember. As far as I know he plays physical boardgames on Tuesday nights but not sure if he’s into online ones too.

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