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BookTube refers to the group of content creators on YouTube that film videos based on books. Similar to beauty gurus or gamers, BookTubers are a specific subset of the YouTube community. While the largest group of BookTubers focus on YA literature, BookTube channels address all possible kinds of literature, such as audiobooks, classics, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, children's literature, comics, romance, non-fiction, and books in translation.
The BookTube community has grown exponentially. It is hard to say how many BookTube channels now exist, but there are many channels that have thousands (and sometimes hundreds of thousands) of subscribers. Outside of YouTube, BookTubers can be found at book and YouTube conventions like YallFest, BookCon, and VidCon.
Types of videos
Some are reviews of books, detailing what they did or did not like about a certain book. Most BookTubers review books from similar genres to attract a specific audience for their videos. These reviews can also be of Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) that are provided by book publishers that wish to harness word of mouth advertising.
BookTubers also make haul videos where they show the different books from specific trips to the bookstore or an overview of the books that they got from general events throughout a period of time. They also make unhaul videos where they discuss the books that they are removing from their collection.
Another common video that BookTubers create are bookshelf tours or videos where they reorganize their bookshelves. These videos are often long, but are filled with commentary from the BookTuber about how they are organizing their books or stories behind certain books.
Some BookTubers make TBR (to be read) videos where they list what they intend to read in the immediate future, especially when associated with an upcoming readathon.
Wrap-up videos discuss the books the BookTuber has read in a particular period of time, often a month, or the duration of a particular readathon.
Tag videos consist of a series of questions or challenges around a theme which the BookTuber answers, then tags other BookTubers to answer.
Discussion videos usually address themes across books, or issues arising in the BookTube community at a particular time. There are a number of organised discussion video programs which multiple BookTubers take part in, such as Top 5 Wednesday and #BooktubeSFF Babbles.
There are also videos where BookTubers collaborate, often playing a game related to characters from books or some form of a tag video.
BookTube traditions and culture
Booktube is as a community of video makers and watchers, not simply a group of individuals doing similar things. There is a shared vocabulary (largely drawn from the wider bookish community), intertextuality (whereby BookTubers react and respond to other BookTubers), common traditions and some broadly shared values.
TBR : to be read. 1) those books chosen to be read next, possibly for a particular purpose such as a readathon, 2) the massed total of unread books owned by a BookTuber, 3) books, not necessarily owned, that a BookTuber wants to read.
DNF: did not finish. A book that has been started but not completed, and which the BookTuber has no present intention of finishing.
ARC : advanced reader copy. A not-for-sale copy of a yet-to-be-published book provided free by the publisher for publicity purposes, often distributed at conventions.
eARC: an e-copy of an ARC.
Reading Slump: a period of time in which a BookTuber does not feel like reading, or when reading is much slower than usual.
Bookish Hangover: 1) not being willing to start a new book because of the intensity of feelings produced by a recently finished book, 2) being tired/unproductive because you stayed up too late reading a book.
Book Swag (or just Swag) : book-themed non-book items such as T-shirts, tote bags, mugs etc.
Ship, Shipping: to support/endorse a relationship between fictional characters.
OTP: one true pairing. Designation for a romantic relationship considered the best possibility for both characters involved.
Spoilers: Details of the content of a book which give away important plot developments (especially relating to the resolution of the plot), as in something telling someone what happens at the end of a book someone has not finished, etc.
Readathon: an event where participants read together over a defined period of time. There may be officially announced challenges, associated hashtags, reading sprints, and giveaways accompanying a readathon. Many readathons are BookTube originated, others come from elsewhere in the bookternet and show up on BookTube. Some recurring readathons are BookTubeAThon, BookBuddyAThon, Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, Around the World-a-Thon, BoutofBooks, and the 24in48 Readathon.
Shout outs: BookTubers recommending other BookTube channels in their videos.
Spoiler warnings: The default BookTube culture is not to include spoilers in review videos. In those instances where a BookTuber has a good reason to talk about details which might be considered spoilers it is conventional to include a warning to that effect.
NaNoWriMo: Many BookTubers, who are also avid writers, tend to participate in and thusly vlog about their November NaNoWriMo experience, in which they must write a 50,000 word novel.
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While the BookTube community is fairly small, it is rapidly growing. Some of the most-watched BookTubers are (subscriber counts as of June 20, 2018).
- polandbananasBOOKS (Christine Riccio): 389,917
- abookutopia (Sasha Alsberg): 369,088
- laspalabrasdefa (Fa Orozco): 353,995 (in Spanish)
- Clau Reads Books (Claudia Ramírez): 331,777 (in Spanish)
- jessethereader (Jesse George): 275,790
- Katytastic (Kat O’Keeffe): 249,277
- PeruseProject (Regan Perusse): 236,640
- El coleccionista de Mundos (Sebastián G. Mouret): 227,907 (in Spanish)
- Little Book Owl (Catriona Feeney): 177,681
- booksandquills (Sanne Vliegenthart): 174,917
- readbyzoe (Zoë Herdt): 171,162
- Hailey In Bookland (Hailey LeBlanc): 167,313
- Andreo Rowling (Andrea Izquierdo): 148,489 (in Spanish)
- Ariel Bissett: 139,108
- A Clockwork Reader (Hannah): 133,734
- emmmabooks (Emma Giordano):129,700
- Tashapolis (Natasha Polis): 121,894
Several BookTubers have also become authors themselves or are planning on writing a book. Sasha Alsberg, who runs the abookutopia YouTube channel, collaborated with Lindsay Cummings to write Zenith. It was released in 2016 as two ebooks and became a #1 New York Times Best Seller. The book was released in print on January 16, 2018. In July 2017, Bloomsbury published Because You Love to Hate Me, an anthology of 13 short stories written by 13 YA authors, including Nicola Yoon, Marissa Meyer, Renee Ahdieh, and April Genevieve Tucholke, who were paired with 13 BookTubers. Ameriie, a Grammy-nominated singer, writer, and YouTuber came up with the idea and edited the book. Christine Riccio, who runs the polandbananasBOOKS YouTube channel, is in the process of writing a debut novel, called Again, But Better.
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