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BookTube your shelf

Published : Dec 8, 2015, 8:43 pm IST
Updated : Dec 8, 2015, 8:43 pm IST

In the midst of the global vlogging revolution, a small community of book lovers has been making its presence felt across the world, and now in India too

Manpreet Kaur helms a BookTube channel by her own name and regularly uploads book recommendations, reviews and more
 Manpreet Kaur helms a BookTube channel by her own name and regularly uploads book recommendations, reviews and more

In the midst of the global vlogging revolution, a small community of book lovers has been making its presence felt across the world, and now in India too

As the universe of video streaming undergoes a revolution across the globe with more and more youngsters joining the vlogger brigade with cutting edge content from all walks of life, a small community that has been making its presence felt in the midst of cyber waves galore is BookTube. While the term was fondly coined on international waters a few months ago to define a group of vloggers who post videos centered solely on books, India seems to be catching up with a number of BookTubers of its own.

“While researching around starting a YouTube channel, I found that most vloggers in India create niche content primarily for subjects like beauty, fashion, comedy and technology. BookTube was a space that remained relatively untapped here. I saw that as a huge opportunity and grabbed it,” shares 22-year-old Manpreet Kaur, a blogger and social media marketing professional who helms a BookTube channel by her own name and regularly uploads book recommendations, reviews and more. Ask her how and when she came across the concept of BookTube and she tells us, “I wasn’t familiar with the existence of BookTube until early 2015. I used to do random vlogs and one day shared one about the self-help books I liked reading, on a request from one of the readers on my blog (www.finixpost.com). That’s when it all began.”

She adds, “I had been struggling to find my niche in the vlogging space and books seemed to be perfect. So, by mid-2015, I decided to focus completely on BookTube and have been loving my decision ever since.”

Another 22-year-old Indian BookTuber, Jasmine Dayal who has named her BookTube channel ‘EverythingBookish’ feels that while the community may be small in India still, the international BookTube community as well as international followers are being extremely encouraging of it. She affirms, “The beauty of this community is that it is not confined to a particular place, and the people who are part of it are so warmhearted that you could literally just pack up all their love and never have to worry about finding your significant other! All the people who decided to follow me have been really kind till now and my international followers have always supported my decisions too.

They are really helpful, encouraging and enthusiastic about my content, just like I am. It is really wonderful.” Manpreet adds that being an Indian BookTuber gets a special response too, sometimes. “I am still not very old in the BookTube world, but every day I get at least one message or comment from some sweet person feeling happy to have found an ‘Indian BookTuber’. And this has been happening since I uploaded my first video, where I introduced myself as an Indian BookTuber. I have received, overall, a response much better than I had actually expected,” she reveals.

BookTubers as a community range from teenagers to doctorate students and cater to an audience equally vast, with content such as book reviews, thematic discussions and more creative formats and video concepts too that emerge from time to time. Manpreet points out that her followers seem to love ‘Wrap Up’ and ‘Favourite’ videos the most, pouring in likes and comments in the maximum volume on them. And Jasmine, from her own experience, observes, “The audience, in general, is always on the lookout for new books and new ways to set up their bookshelves. While I personally enjoy book discussion videos a lot, they enjoy watching other people have a similar taste in reading to their own, and end up buying more books. They also often find themselves reading books that they might otherwise have skipped for a lack of interest or just because they didn’t know about a lot of amazing writers.”

Media professional Megha Verma, who is also an avid reader and a regular follower — albeit a silent one — of several Indian BookTube channels, reaffirms Jasmine’s point and shares, “I’ve bought more books in the last three months than I have over the last two years put together! I’ve always loved reading, but work and family keep me occupied for ninety percent of my day. That didn’t make me lose interest in reading, but it most certainly made me a lazy and slow reader. Then I heard about BookTube and decided to see if I could find some Indian voices on it and I was very pleasantly surprised. Once I started watching some of the videos, especially the book recommendations, I found a lot of motivation to let go of my lethargy and make time for my love for the written word. Just the sight of all those lovely bookshelves behind the BookTubers in their videos was very exciting for me. And here I am today, reading more than I have in years!”

Could the rise of BookTube, then, also lend a hand to the traditional publishing industry in the age of e-books and e-readers “I have never been able to accept the statistics people keep talking about, predicting a decline in the traditional publishing industry. People still love paperbacks and hardcovers, I genuinely believe that. We just need some good promotion and good bookstores with great deals on books, and all this talk about the decline in the popularity of paperbacks will go away. I think BookTube can play an important role in all of this too, because it is a fact that when you see BookTubers holding those amazing covers in their hands, you feel compelled to get a copy for yourself. Don’t you Moreover, BookTubers can help a lot in promoting new authors and encouraging reading as a habit among the youth in particular. India needs that and it can be done,” she concludes.