#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss: Inclusivity – Booktube vs. Book Blogging

Kala

I haven’t been in the bookish community for very long, in April it will actually be a year. The decision to be a book reviewer was it a quick one, but what platform to use; that was a harder decision. Book blogging or booktube?

Booktube can look like a really great platform. And ultimately I can’t say that it isn’t. Lots of people find great amounts of success on there, but it’s not the right one for me, and it doesn’t work for many others. Either way, I ended up choosing book blogging because I’m better at writing than speaking.

Yes I am a “diverse book blogger.” I’m physically disabled. I have something called Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2. For me, this means I need help with my daily tasks, require the use of a wheelchair, and have limited use on my left hand. So far this has not affected me in any way that offends me, however it can leave me at a disadvantage for becoming something called a rep. You know those really aesthetically pleasing bookstagram photos? I can’t take them. I found that Instagram, blogging, and Twitter all go hand-in-hand. Multiple social media accounts help you stay relevant in a community that’s rapidly growing.

Bookstagram and Booktube are where you’ll find reps. These are people who represent and promote bookish companies. Reps get these items for free, in exchange for their honest reviews. And these reviews become promotion and marketing for companies. But it’s very rare to see a rep who is just a blogger. And because I’m physically disabled, I’m unable to take those photos. Or hold those objects up in video. Yes I could get somebody to assist me in this, but then is it still just my content? No not really.

This isn’t something that bothers me though. I did not get into book reviewing expecting to get free stuff. It’s just something that I know isn’t likely going to happen. And I understand the psychology behind the visual marketing for these companies. A consumer very often won’t buy a product until they interacted visually with it, at least three times. (I know this because I’m an author as well, and I’ve had to figure out how marketing works.) So it’s not something I can be angry about, because I understand it.

However, I do have diverse book reviewer friends who are both book blogging and booktubers. And I found out through them, that booktube is not nearly as inclusive as book blogging is. This non inclusiveness is due to so many reasons beyond racial, disabled, or other minorities. But think about this, what kind of videos do you like to watch? It’s likely that their high quality videos, with high quality audio, with a clear photo, preferably one with no audio to video lag, good lighting, and an awesome backdrop. Think about those things for a minute.

Book reviewing, on any platform, starts and usually stays as a hobby. Booktube? That’s an expensive hobby. Those nice high quality videos aren’t filmed on somebody’s iPhone. They have to have a fairly pricey set up. And if you don’t have it, or if you don’t have the cash for it, you usually don’t get the views or subscribers that you were hoping for.

Book blogging is considerably cheaper. Especially if you aren’t putting out ads of your blog. Yes, your content will cost money, unless you’re using libraries. If you are supporting your local library, good for you! But for a lot of us, we buy books as well. Books, brand new, are expensive. Anywhere between $15 and up to $50. Yes I have bought in the book for $50 before.

In my personal opinion I have found that book blogging is a lot more inclusive. I have never actually seen a physically disabled person doing booktube. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough. Or maybe there just aren’t any. Who knows maybe if I ever become brave enough to be on camera, then maybe I’ll be the first?


Kala sigBook Blogger @ Storybook on Wheels.

Kala is a blogger and author living in Alberta Canada. She lives with a physical disability and is confined to a wheelchair. She’s also an occasional artist, and Halloween is her favorite holiday. She likes tattoos and chocolate, and most movies directed by Tim Burton.

You can buy her poetry collection here: Witchcraft and Monsters.

Notable Posts: 

#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss is a way to boost diverse bloggers who are brilliant, have a lot to say and deserve to be heard loud and clear. What this is, is basically a guest post feature where every Sunday, one blogger from a minority will discuss things they are passionate about on my blog. 

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18 thoughts on “#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss: Inclusivity – Booktube vs. Book Blogging

  1. I hadn’t thought of how there aren’t any disabled booktubers, I really liked this post and now I’m eager to hear more opinions from diverse bloggers

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll start by admitting that I don’t know a whole lot about booktube. I occasionally watch a few videos, but I’m not invested in that aspect of the community. I know for myself, I wouldn’t want to run a booktube channel. I don’t find myself aesthetically pleasing (which I realize is mostly a me thing) and I’m too insecure to put my face on camera. Beyond that, like this post points out, I don’t have the time or resources to invest so much into what is ultimately a hobby. That’s one of the reasons I like book blogging: you put in what you want to put in, and you can make a blog out of almost nothing. There’s a lot less pressure to be traditionally liked, and it’s more about just having something to say.

    That being said, this is an aspect of the book community I haven’t thought about enough. I’d heard that booktube isn’t inclusive, but I hadn’t considered it from this perspective. I don’t think it’s necessarily booktube’s fault though; we live in a world where appearances are everything, and booktube just reflects the biases of our society. I will say that I try to seek out diverse booktubers as much as possible – and I wish there were more disabled booktubers to better reflect the diversity of the full bookish community.

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  3. I loved this post, especially being a disabled book blogger myself! It’s really hard to even just build a following when you’ve got barely enough spoons to read and review books. Promoting your blog, follow trains etc, all of that takes energy. Anyway, thank you for making me feel seen. 💛

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  4. I liked this post. It brings up some points of inclusivity problems with booktube that seem to be inherent. Booktube, to be very popular, will cost you a lot of money for what is, a hobby. This restricts it to a wealthier bookish person and leaves many others out as well as those with some disabilities. I have a “hidden” disability, and simply don’t have the time or money for booktube, though I sometimes watch a video.

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  5. Jen Campbell is an awesome physically disabled Booktuber. The wonderful Ely @ Earl Grey Books on YouTube is also physically disabled. Check ’em out if you can! 🙂

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  6. You make an excellent point! I don’t personally bother much with booktube, though I know it exists. I only see the posts on there when someone tags them in a blog. But, now that you mention it, I can see that would be less diverse. The blogging community is super diverse, as far as I can see. And that’s what makes it so wonderful! We all love reading each other’s opinions and talking about books with different people – it’s a real community. I do have a Twitter, and I have a personal Instagram, but I don’t use them for talking about books. I rarely take pictures of my books, in fact. But I still get free books from Netgalley, sometimes authors who contact me directly. I think it’s possible…

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  7. This was such an enlightening post. I definitely agree that BookTube is not nearly as inclusive as the book blogging community. One of my favorite BookTubers, Jen Campbell, speaks a lot on disabled representation. This was a great post and full of wonderful commentary! Thanks so much for sharing Kala!

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  8. I really like getting to hear your perspective here. I do think that successful booktubers are more likely to fit a particular mold than successful bloggers are because booktube (and Youtube as a whole) is so heavily dependent on physical appearance (and also how engaging or charming your seen as but I think that often gets tied up in physical appearance). Because of that, I think some of the worst parts of celebrity culture that favor very limited types of people get unfortunately perpetuated on booktube.
    Youtube’s algorithms are also making it increasingly difficult to find booktubers who aren’t already successful, which frustrates me as a viewer. While I watch some booktubers and other Youtubers, I have a lot of complaints about the website and various communities on it. I think it’s easier to discover new book bloggers than it is to discover new booktubers, but I could have a skewed perspective.

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  9. Those are excellent points, once in a while I do consider starting a booktube yet the equipment are expensive for just a hobby and I dislike when someone tell me oh use your phone to start, excuse how many things can my phone do all at once before it will crash from Overload

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  10. This post was so interesting! I completely agree about Booktube being an expensive hobby, because even though I’ve never had a channel myself, I am definitely guilty of only watching someone’s video if their audio & camera quality is good, and not everyone can afford that. Sometimes, recording on your phone is the only way and I definitely need to stop being so picky about it and support other creators who don’t have access to these things. This definitely made me think a lot! Amazing post! 💫

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  11. This is such a good insight! I completely agree with the fact that booktube being less inclusive – it is expensive and time-consuming, and people can be shallow about appearances and the like. I’m including myself in that, definitely. It’s something for me to unlearn and work on, so thank you for this post!

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  13. Thank you for sharing your story Kala! You bring up some very valid points. I never really thought about the booktubers I watch, but you are right, the majority of the better known booktubers have better picture quality and sound – assuming they have access to higher tech equipment. I do follow a few booktubers that don’t have the best visual or sound quality, but I follow them because I like their content.

    Personally, I’d love to see more inclusivity on booktube. You are right, I have yet to see a booktuber that is physically disabled. I would love to see a physically disabled person doing booktube, and hope you consider pioneering the movement!

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  15. I definitely agree that book blogging is more inclusive and nit just because of physical disabilities. As you said it can be an expensive hobby and difficult for people like me living in noisy cities where no videos can be filmed without the background traffic noise. I really love this post, thank you for bringing this perspective across 💓

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