Olivia O’Neil ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Over the past year or so, it has become a trend with YouTubers to write books. The real question is, why? If they have a following and make videos regularly, why would they bother writing books when they can say whatever they want to say on their channels? Well, the obvious answer would be that books are a different medium. With a book, the author can say what they are going to say and complete the thought, and they can take up more space than they would in four and a half minutes (the average length of a vlog) of video. A book allows creators more space to share ideas and content. There are several different kinds of books that YouTubers have been creating. Some of the most recent are the novel, the extension book, and the self-help book.
The novel is not a new idea that YouTubers have created; in fact, some YouTubers were novelists before they were internet personalities (for example, John Green). However, some YouTubers have written works of fiction after they have become Internet sensations, which have yielded new perspectives on internet fame. One novel in particular that will share this experience with readers is called Girl Online, by Zoe Sugg (Zoella), due to be realeased this month. This young adult work of fiction is about a female blogger and her struggle to keep her personal life and her professional online career separate, something with which many YouTubers struggle. The book itself is targeted towards teenage girls, the average YouTube audience. This gives the author, Zoella, a chance to share her perspective in a way that a video would struggle to capture. This book will tell the story of what happens when the camera is off, the stuff that is not shared with YouTube subscribers. It is something that could only be done, in a non-contradictory way, through a piece of fiction.
The novel and the self-help book are pretty self-explanatory and not unique to YouTube, but the extension is a new kind of book. The extension is a book form of a YouTube channel, which gives a new level of experience for the subscribers. For example, Hannah Hart’s book, My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating Drinking, and Going With Your Gut, is an extension to her channel, “My Drunk Kitchen.” Her channel features her cooking various things while drunk. The book is a cookbook filled with recipes for both drinks and food, as well as various pieces of advice and many, many puns. It offers the fans a chance to bring a bit of Hannah off of the screen and into their homes with them. Maybe they will learn to cook with this book. Maybe they will make friendships while using this book. It is a more tangible thing for a subscriber to enjoy instead of just a video they watched for a few minutes while they got ready in the morning.
Another example of this is Alfie Deyes’ book, Pointless Book. It is an activity book that is an extension of his channel, “Pointless Blog,” that allows subscribers to take part in fun little actives, all of which would make a funny video. His channel usually consists of him doing stupid little challenges or playing little games with his friend, making this book the perfect extension. The innovative part of this book is that is pairs with an app that, when a page of the book is scanned, links to “exclusive content” of Alfie taking part in these activities. Again, this is a way to give YouTubers’ subscribers a more personal and unique experience than just the videos.
The final format that is very popular right now is the self-help book. Much of the YouTube community on the audience side of this is very young. They are struggling with surviving high school and starting college. On the other side of the screen, many of the YouTubers are a bit older and have experiences and advice that could help some of their subscribers. Much like the extension book, the self-help book allows a YouTuber to share personal experiences with their audience. However, unlike the extension book, it does not have to have anything to do with the usual content on their channels and instead is centered solely on sharing advice in the hopes of helping. Grace Helbig, “It’s Grace,” on YouTube, just released her book, Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grown-Up. It is a book filled with lists of advice on several different topics, as well as many funny and colorful photos. The advice ranges from “How to Do the Walk of Shame” to “What to Do in an Interview.” She touches on anxiety, socializing, and the importance of hard work. While still being hilarious, the story at times can be a bit more serious than Grace’s YouTube channel.
Many of the books that YouTubers have released have been wonderful. They manage to capture the best parts of their videos while adding that personalized experience that every fan craves. After reading several of these books, it no longer matters why they decided to venture into this new medium, because clearly everything these Internet moguls do is a success. With their mixture of hard work, weird ideas, and millions of subscribers, anything for them is possible, including taking over The New York Times Best Sellers List.