“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”
- Kurt Vonnegut
For those who have watched my videos on YouTube, you may have noticed that my “About” page has a massive amount of subscriptions to channels created by people who do book reviews. Most of these channels are part of an official/unofficial online community called “BookTube”. I’ve been on YouTube for half a decade and I never knew what the hell “BookTube” was about until a few months ago. As a novelist, once I understood how cool the BookTube community was, I felt it was my duty to explain it to you good people who may not know.
Now the reason I call it an official/unofficial community is because there’s no centralized “membership” to become a BookTuber. Basically, anyone can start doing book review videos and declare themselves a BookTuber and if the other popular BookTubers accept you, then you’re in. That sounds awful to put it that way. Makes it sound like some clique in junior high or a fraternity hazing or something. But like I said, it’s not an official thing. So, if the circle of people in the BookTube community decide that you’re lame or something, it’s not like you can’t keep making book review videos. You can still declare yourself a BookTuber, you just might be one who is sitting all alone at the lunch table.
A majority of the BookTube community consists of very cute college girls who read young adult books and never seem to swear. They’re adorably prim and proper in that way. Those poor girls ever become corrupted by watching my videos on writing novels, their ears might start bleeding. I’m not so sure they could handle it. There aren’t many boys who are part of BookTube (and some seem to like Depeche Mode a little too much, as a friend of mine once said, but who am I to judge?) and there aren’t many people who are under 18 or over 25. I’m not sure why that demographic comprises a majority of the BookTube community. Perhaps because girls read more than boys, they are old enough to have the money to buy books, and young enough to not be intimidated by Internet technology. There you go – not all, but most BookTubers; college chicks.
Three of the most popular styles of BookTube videos are reviews, tags, and book hauls.
Reviews are pretty self-explanatory. You read a book. You talk about it. You give your opinion. I have made quite a number of book reviews myself and have a list of many more I want to do. I don’t do negative book reviews for three reasons:
a.) Even a shitty book takes a lot of work and as an author, I don’t want to disparage the effort a fellow author has made.
b.) There are 6 billion people on earth, so if a book is so awful only one in a million people like it, there will be 6000 people who think it’s brilliant. Just because I dislike it doesn’t make it bad. You might love it.
c.) Why waste my time talking about a shitty book? Books are like girlfriends. Even if they treated you like shit, you don’t talk smack about them; that’s just not classy.
My reviews tend to be a little different than most. Often times, I enjoy going off on anecdotes and tangents and telling tales related to my own life and experiences with the book. Or maybe I’ll talk about ways in which my writing was influenced by another author. After all, to me, that’s the whole point of reading. Reading not about the book. Reading is about how that book touches your life. I’m sure some readers would dislike that style of review, but that’s the type of review I enjoy the most coming from other people, so I like emulating such an approach.
In a tag video, someone posts a question for fellow BookTubers to answer. For example, “Who are your 5 favorite literary villains?” or “Do you tend to buy hardcovers or paperbacks?” or “Which novel by Eric Muss-Barnes did you like the most?” Now when a BookTuber makes a tag video, they pick other BookTubers to “tag” and those BookTubers are supposed to create response videos and in turn tag some more people. You notify people they have been tagged however you want. YouTube messages. Twitter hashtags. Facebook notices. Whatever. By tagging and responding and passing the tag along, it creates an ongoing dialog and stronger sense of community. Tagging is a way to emulate the kind of interaction you have on a standard Internet forum wherein you post a topic and people respond. I’ve never tagged anyone or been tagged, which is a good thing because I shoot my videos in batches. Which means, if I got tagged, I wouldn’t answer for months and that would just be rude… or eccentric. Depends on your point of view.
In a book haul video, people share the latest books they have purchased. Like music lovers buying a ton of records all at once, many booklovers tend to buy books in bulk. Three, four, five, ten, a dozen at a time. Then they make a video telling you what they bought. Book haul videos are so popular, many BookTubers post more book haul videos than book reviews. Book hauls are a thing I just don’t understand. Who the hell cares which books you own? What matters is what books you’ve read. Owning books is pointless if you never read them. Right? So, book reviews I get. You want to talk about something you enjoyed or disliked. Okay. Cool. Talking about books you merely purchased but haven’t experienced? I don’t get that. Suffice to say, I will never do a book haul. I’m happy to tell you what I’ve read, I see no point in telling you what I’m planning to read.
But hey, more power to you! If you enjoy making book haul videos and people enjoy watching them, that’s great. Like I said, they are exceptionally popular in the BookTube community. So if that’s your thing, you keep on truckin’ Pippy Longstocking.
Well, that’s that. A quick overview of BookTube. Be sure to check out some of my book reviews. I like to think some of my reading preferences might broaden your horizons and open you up to wonderful tales you’ve never heard of before. And of course, I highly recommend you check out some of the channels I’ve subscribed to on YouTube and watch some of the more popular members of the BookTube community. Their videos are often fun and entertaining and clever and most important of all, you may end up being exposed to some great writing and books you never would have otherwise discovered.
Plus, there’s nothing sexier than a bookwormish girl. Did I mention most of them are cute college chicks?