BookTube is a community on YouTube that focuses primarily on creating content, specifically videos, around the subject of literature and book-related subjects.

What is BookTube?

The online community of BookTube found its footing during the 2010s rising trend of uploading video blogs (vlogs) to YouTube. Within these specific vlogs, the creators share everything literature-based in their day-to-day lives from their favourite - and least favourite - books to their specific reading habits. The community provides an array of different types of readers and literary interests that book enthusiasts from all around the world can identify with and deep-dive into. Most BookTube channels focus on, but are not limited to, the young adult age range.

Since its inception the number of BookTube creators and their audience has grown immensely. Simultaneously, the types of videos uploaded have expanded far beyond vlogging through the incorporation of, for example, challenges, tags or sit-down discussions about book-related subjects such as the book industry or the importance of literary institutions. The development of the video content and social media practices overall ensured a spread of the book-community beyond the platform of YouTube to other book-based online communities such as Bookstagram or BookTok (Perkins, 2017).

Controversy around BookTube

The platform of YouTube, and the subsection of BookTube, relies heavily on viewer involvement to thrive. This so-called ‘participatory culture’, introduced by Henry Jenkins (2006), engages and interacts with the viewers through specific interests, in this case book-themed topics. The creators attempt to connect virtually with their audience as much as possible by asking them to react to their video and start a conversation in the comment section. This has been shown to induce a sense of inclusivity and belonging for the viewers within the sphere of the BookTube community. It connects not only the audience with the creator but also the avid viewers with each other. Perkins (2017) notes that this form of participation, and the community it builds, “transcend[s] the isolated and solitary boundaries that [is] usually associated with reading” (p. 352). As a consequence, the online interaction simultaneously results in a certain amount of participatory pressure on both sides (Ehret et al., 2018). The audience feels an obligation to react, while the creator requires the viewers to interact to be a success on the platform. For the latter, this also includes the participatory pressure exerted by external forces through publishers’ sponsorships. 

For many years, publishers have seen the opportunity for advertisement via media platforms which has created great controversy around the ethical implications of marketing products on media channels catering to a predominantly younger aged target audience. Tolstopyat (2018) states that “BookTubers represent a new category of intermediaries” between the publisher and the everyday reader that can make the viewer question the creator’s reliability and authenticity of the literary opinion and recommendation (p. 93). 


Ehret, C., Boegel, J., & Manuel‐Nekouei, R. (2018). The role of affect in adolescents’ online literacies: Participatory pressures in BookTube culture. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 62(2), 151-161.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Fans, bloggers, and gamers: Exploring participatory culture. nyu Press.

Perkins, K. (2017). The boundaries of BookTube. The Serials Librarian, 73(3-4), 352-356.

Tolstopyat, N. (2018). BookTube, Book clubs and the brave new world of publishing. Satura, 1, 91-96.