This article was originally posted on We Love This Book
YouTube is a phenomenon that seems to have taken over the Internet and has a huge influence on young people’s lives. YouTubers are the new form of celebrity that many people my age (I’m 18) admire. They have created their own kind of celebrity culture where people value them so highly because they are relatable. They don’t live unattainable lives like the celebrities you see on the cover of Vogue. YouTubers like Zoe Sugg, Tanya Burr and Alfie Deyes created their careers merely by posting videos sat in their bedroom chatting about their lives.
It’s now a multi-million pound industry. YouTubers are in such high demand for endorsements and products because viewers like myself genuinely listen to them and they guide our opinions. From waxworks to make up products, the YouTubers have it all and recently they have turned to writing books.
In November 2014 Zoe Sugg published her first novel Girl Online. As many other YouTubers were releasing non-fiction lifestyle books, I initially found it admirable that Sugg was taking it one step further creatively and taking on a new challenge. Therefore when it was revealed that actually Siobhan Curham was the ghostwriter for the book, I felt let down. Sugg said that the story and the characters were hers and Curham just put the story on the page but it was misleading to Sugg’s six million YouTube subscribers and slightly disheartening. As a huge reader myself I was really interested in discovering Zoe’s writing style, imagination and artistic ability, so when I found out she hadn’t actually written it I lost all interest in reading it.
Although I didn’t agree with the way Penguin kept it quiet about Zoella’s ghostwriter, I am actually still an advocate for YouTubers writing books. They have an enormous audience, mainly made up of teenagers, and if Zoella putting her name on a book enables thousands of young people to pick up a book and read it, it will inevitably opens their eyes up to the world of reading. YouTubers hugely influence what teenagers are interested in and there is a massive online community of “BookTubers” and other YouTubers who love books and recommend their viewers to read along with them.
An excellent example of this is Carrie Hope Fletcher, currently with over 500 000 subscribers on YouTube, as many of her videos revolve around books. She even started “Carrie’s Book Club”, an online website where viewers can sign up and pay monthly to receive a book package that includes a book and items that fit with the theme of that book. Similarly Estee Lalonde, known on YouTube as Essie Button, is close to a million subscribers and has a monthly video on her channel titled “Button’s Bookshelf”. She assigns a monthly book that she will read along with her viewers and at the end of the month she posts a video discussing the book, encouraging her viewers to engage with her on social media to voice their opinions. While their channels aren’t solely about books, the fact that they interject the subject into their videos makes reading more accessible and by promoting it really sets a trend. By championing reading it motivates young people to delve into something thoroughly enriching and exciting. For viewers that have already become hooked on reading there are so many BookTubers online, such as Sanne Vliegenthart’s channel “Books and Quills” that focuses on books reviews, book related events and book tags.
I believe there has been a huge influx of young readers due to the rise of YouTubers, and that reading is now viewed as the “in” thing to do. All it takes is an instant connection with one book and a young person will become a reader for life. Whether it’s YouTubers writing books, or even just talking about books, their power is indescribable and the effect they have on young people is remarkable. I urge more YouTubers to get involved with promoting reading and use their position of influence to communicate the power of reading to other people my age.