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Insights into Booktube: an interview with Cinzia A. DuBois

Research into the influence of the Booktube community on the publishing industry has  lead Publishers Inc to seek out more personal insights, we interviewed Cinzia A. DuBois on the topic hoping to shed some light on the matter. 

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@PetiteBritette

Cinzia recently graduated with a postgraduate in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh. She runs a cosy Youtube channel (with over 13,000 subscribers) where she discusses all things books. She writes a hand-written blog; you can also find her on Twitter and Instagram at @PetiteBritette.

What led you to create a personal video channel about books? How did you first go about it and what/who were your sources of inspiration?

I began my YouTube channel six years ago, long before Booktube was even a thing. Booktube wasn’t established until around three years ago and has obviously since boomed. Because of this, I was not inspired by anyone to talk about books at all. My original videos were rather small discussion vlog videos as I was inspired by youtuber Charlieissocoolike to begin vlogging. However, the official Pottermore website launched just around the time I started vlogging and I thought it would be funny to make a sketch about  a fictional illness called ‘Pottermorealexia’ which was what Harry Potter fans were experiencing whilst impatiently waiting for the site to be created. It was after making this video that I decided to stick to talking about books from thereon out.

How has using video (as a medium to create content) affected your relationship with books?

I can honestly say the video format has had no impact on my personal relationship with reading, but it has made me question the sincerity of others’. Some Booktubers can read around thirteen to twenty books a month (one, for example, read seven Robin Hobb books in a month, all over 600 pages each, and five other novels!) Because of the rapid speed others seems to be able to read and review books as well as hold full-time jobs, social lives, clean their houses, do grocery shopping etc

Booktube as a whole has at times made me question my capabilities as a reader (I’m too slow, I’m too stupid, I’m not intelligent enough to read quickly etc) – but my personal relationship with literature has not changed because of the way I use video to create literary content.

From what I understood – you are an English Literature graduate and you aspire to work in the publishing industry – how has video blogging affected your career aspirations and your understanding of said industry?  

Yes, I just graduated from my postgraduate in English Literature and I can say that for this question, being a Booktuber has played a huge role in my aspirations to work in publishing. It was because of Youtube that I attained all three of the editorial internships I applied for with Penguin Books, The Guardian (Books desk) and Icon books. Thanks to YouTube I have had experience working both within and with the publishing industries and have learnt a lot about how they work. Because Booktube has become a recognised marketing technique for the publishing industry, Booktubers (and book bloggers) are now regarded as part of the industry itself, and it is thanks to Booktube that I have had the fortune  of not only interning at publishing houses, but it has given me the opportunity to network with publishers, attend book launches, speak at publishing conferences etc.

Here at Publishers Inc we are big fans of Book Tube. As a reader, I appreciate that it is easily accessible and am particularly fond of the human factor. This form of reviewing is slowly taking over and its success, as I understand, is founded on trust. The viewer relates to the personality, taste and opinion of the video blogger, as well as the altruistic nature of the commitment. The reviews then are seen as honest, personable recommendations. In addition, most book tubers discuss books/events/authors of personal interest and have a policy of announcing any sponsored content or sent-for-review copies. This generates not only trust but also commitment. It follows that your channel is very likely to affect your viewersfinancial investments and reading habits.

On account of this, do you think your online presence and video-reviewing affects individual publishers and the publishing industry as a whole? If so, how? Have you ever cooperated with a publisher?

 Personally, being only a small YouTube with very little fame or “street-cred” as one might say, have not and likely never shall affect either the publishing industry or an individual publisher as an individual blogger. Bigger YouTubers such as Sanne (booksandquills) and Lenna Normington (Justkissmyfrog) have done – but largely because they work for the publisher they are having an effect on.

Booktube as a whole, however, has shown Publishers that books can be marketed in the same way as fashion and makeup are – which I don’t think anyone would have ever thought would be possible! What I mean by this is that YouTube brings all brands into the same selling format, and whilst makeup tutorials online have existed since the beginning of time on YouTube, books have suddenly joined the race, and they are not as out of place as Publishers may have first thought.

So an example of this is that Penguin launched their YouTube channel back in 2006, but they never thought of uploading anything original. They used the platform in a very primitive way by merely uploading video footage of author talks or adverts for new releases. It was only in January 2015 that they launched Penguin Platform; a hosted book channel which has over 3,000 subscribers in a year – already a third of the 9,000 subscribers their official channel managed to attain over ten years.

Another example of a Youtuber who has affected the publishing industry is Jen Campbell. Having worked in the book industry for over ten years, and a published author herself, Jen has had a serious impact on numerous publishers; largely small, specialist ones who she knows on a personal, insider level. Thanks to her exposure of these lesser known publishers, I can say rather certainly that she has had a major impact on them personally. Booktube as a whole has effected the entire publishing industry from a social media and marketing perspective, and depending upon the booktuber – they can affect the whole industry and an individual publishing house if they have personal connections.

Thank you very much for your time, we would love to hear more from you – is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you, firstly for asking for my participation with your questionnaire. Secondly, for not asking about money and focusing entirely on the literary and publishing aspect of being a Booktuber!

Booktubers invest their time and money into creating booktube videos with little to no financial return, purely for the book industry – driven by their love of books; it was nice to finally answer a questionnaire which asked me questions as though I were a creator and reviewer rather than a “wannabe celebrity in it for the money”.

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