An Introduction to BookTubers: YouTube's book lovers
Since its launch in 2005, YouTube has exploded in popularity. While many of it’s users remain casual viewers, YouTube has shown incredible power to create communities. Among the most vibrant of these is the BookTube community. This is the name given to those viewers and content creators who come together to discuss all things bookish.
BookTube incorporates a wide range of videos, from tours of personal bookshelves, to interviews with authors. It even includes large-scale projects, such as web series adaptations of classic novels. But the heart of BookTube is book discovery through recommendations and reviews.
YouTube excels in creating that feeling of a personal relationship with the people whose videos you are watching. Viewers are able to find content creators who they can identify with, and who share their tastes. For fans of BookTube, this makes every recommendation feel as if it's coming from a trusted friend. It's a fun and natural way to explore and find books.
There are hundreds of channels to discover but here are just five to get you started.
Sanne and her channel Booksandquills are stalwarts of the BookTube community. She began making videos at home in the Netherlands while studying English Literature and later translation. Fast forward six years, she has moved to London, begun a career in social media in publishing, and created hundred of fantastic book-themed videos.
Sanne's channel incorporates recommendations for a wonderfully broad selection of genres. She has a special love of dystopian fiction, science fiction, classics and graphic novels, but she is never afraid to read outside of her comfort zone. Sanne consistently delivers high quality content. Her comments are meaningful and astute, and her videos beautifully shot. She has an eye for detail, which is clear in her videos on book design and book covers. Here she shows us exactly how to judge a book by its cover... but armed with her recommendations you shouldn't need to anymore.
David Yoon’s channel The Poptimist is a wonderful hidden gem on YouTube. Focussing on literary fiction and books in translation, David’s reviews are well-crafted and wonderfully articulate.
The Poptimist eschews emotional gushing and hyperbole found on a lot of BookTube channels. Instead he delivers thoughtful and insightful commentary on a range of well-known and lesser known books. He combines his reflections with clever gifs and cut-aways. This comic punctuation keeps his videos from feeling too serious or academic. You can see the time he has put into his reviews and the effort certainly pays off. It is a channel which cherishes books and the reviewing process. If you’re looking for discerning reviews on new releases in literary fiction The Poptimist is a wonderful place to start.
Jen Campbell’s eponymous channel is a fantastic medley of all things bookish. Along with her reviews and recommendations, Jen explores the whole world of literature and publishing in her videos.
As the author of the Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops series. Jen brings her experience in writing and book selling to her videos. She conducts regular interviews with authors, translators and publishing companies. In recommending books, her literary tastes are wide reaching, but she has a special love of poetry, magical realism and fairy tales. What is particularly appealing about Jen's videos is her willingness to go beyond the surface level. She never simply recaps the plot, but incorporates analysis of the use of language and theme to give her viewers a real insight into every book. She creates the space for deeper critical analysis, dedicating videos to dissecting a poem or diving into the history of a fairytale. Jen Campbell's videos are a wonderful challenge to think critically about books, the stories they tell and their place in culture.
Young adult, fantasy, and science fiction are some of the most popular genres in the BookTube community. With so much content around them, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd in recommending these types of books. However, Sanaa's channel InkBonesBooks does just that.
Enthusiastic and knowledgable, Sanaa's recommendations range from best sellers to hidden gems. She keeps her videos friendly and accessible, but their foundation is built on her extensive reading and expertise. She takes the time to highlight and explain specific sub-genres. This helps her give more distinct and accurate recommendations. It also equips her viewers to fully explore their favourite genres. Not restricted to her love of books, Sanaa also makes videos about her love of anime, video games, make up, and k-pop. Her videos are a haven for those with nerdy and pop culture interests.
Lauren's channel Reads and Daydreams is wonderful place to explore classics and contemporary literary fiction. For a relatively new channel, Lauren is going from strength to strength, with plenty of thoughtful and insightful reviews.
However where the channel really shines is in Lauren's fantastic series called 'Page to Screen'. Here she selects a classic novel and watches every screen adaptation of it. Not one to cut corners, she includes films from around the world, even when they are only loosely inspired by the original text. She then reviews each version and speaks about how the story is represented in each. It's a fascinating look at the process of adaptation, and how stories travel and change. Reads and Daydreams will add stacks of movies, as well as books to your wish list.