I can remember as a little kid how much I loved walking into a bookstore. Browsing the shelves endlessly, reading all the titles and colorful covers catching my eye while looking for my favorite authors latest novel. However this experience has changed slightly within the last couple of years, as now you are greeted with a huge table filled with books “written” by people most of the population don’t even know.
Yes, I’m talking about the books coming from the stars of Youtube. With millions of followers each, Youtubers such as Zoella and Tyler Oakley have now been given the label of a celebrity, as wherever they go creates mayhem and whatever has their face on sells out fast. With ludicrous sponsorship deals and red carpet appearances these self-made millionaires are making big money in almost every industry, and then they got a book deal.
I remember watching Zoella’s announcement that she would be writing a book back in 2014 and I couldn’t help but feel so excited for her. It genuinely seemed like something she had wanted to do her whole life, and I was so happy she was doing something for her younger followers to get into reading and step away from the world of technology for a moment. However this excitement was only short lived as her book ‘Girl Online’ was clouded in controversy with claims about it being ghostwritten swept the web until Zoella eventually confessed, and this began to show the cracks in the perfectly formed Youtube world.
It wasn’t long before every Youtuber started miraculously getting book deals and proclaiming it had been a lifelong dream to be an author, which is odd considering most of these books are glorified autobiographies. Huge successes have come from Grace Helbig, Joey Graceffa and many, many more as the shelves filled up with so many new releases. The worst of the bunch has to be from Zoella’s boyfriend Alfie Deyes whose product managed to do…well, nothing. The aptly named ‘The Pointless Book’ was released in 2014 for eager fans to spend their parents money on a basic copy of Keri Smith’s ‘Wreck This Journal’ format only somehow being so much worse. However with their followers’ never ending devotion towards them, these books will carry on making the bestseller list no matter what’s in it and will continue to make the author (I use that term lightly) millions. This lifestyle is being idolized by the younger generation, with ‘Youtuber’ becoming an actual career path so many kids want to go down, so what I want to ask is, have these millionaires lost what made them popular in the first place?
By having endless product lines and business deals are these Youtuber’s setting a bad example to their followers, the kids who made them able to become so popular? Should it be in a child’s mind that you can make millions from putting up one ten minute Youtube video a week and then before long a book deal will follow? Now I’m not trying to say that these people are bad role models, but I think it’s important to remember how much influence they have over their young audiences and therefore should be mindful over how they present themselves. Their audiences are what made them what they are today, so they at least deserve honesty about what they are buying from their heroes.
I never want to discourage people from releasing books because I think anything that boosts this industry is great, however I can’t help feel suspicious over so many Youtuber releases because a number of them cannot be genuine and were only driven by the idea of making a profit. Over the last couple of years Youtube has really turned into a business that makes big money, and it’s so disheartening to see all these books being published like a conveyor belt for the sole purpose to make money. For someone like me who has always wanted to get a book published and it has been my dream since I was little, and now am paying £9,000 a year for University to help me reach that goal, it’s hard to see all these Youtuber’s getting handed this opportunity that I’ll probably never get.
Over the last couple of months many people have also been turning against this surge of Youtuber books, as the hashtag #youtuberfandomhonestyhour trended on twitter and the majority of tweets were complaints about what has been dubbed the ‘Youtuber Book Boom’. Many fans voiced how these publications are no longer original and how the issues of ghost-writing and plagiarism are betraying loyal fans that have supported their idols from the beginning. Here I feel highlights the big issue, it’s not the creator behind the book that’s the problem, it is in fact the content which they decide to put out.
A Youtube personality attaching themselves to a project they don’t believe in just to expand their brand can be damaging, especially towards other Youtubers who would have used this opportunity to do good and actually carve out a successful writing career. Niomi Smart’s upcoming release ‘Eat Smart’ is a glowing example, someone who has been cooking healthy recipes for years on her channel has created a cookbook for her fans so they can imitate these meals, which I think is an amazing way to promote healthy eating to young girls without selling it as a trendy diet. I would never want to encourage people to stop writing books, however it is important for these huge influencers to write thinking of their fans, not their bank accounts.