The number of books being written by bloggers, podcasters and YouTube stars is rising rapidly, and it appears as though we may have some new bestsellers in our midst.
I could provide you with an extensive list of YouTubers and bloggers who have recently written and published books, but I don’t want to bore you to death. Unless lists are your thing of course, then click away to your heart’s content.
One book that a vast number are familiar with is Zoe Sugg’s Girl Online which gained particular scrutiny as it was discovered that Sugg had been using a ghost writer since the invention of her idea. Whilst she did not deserve the extreme amount of negativity that she received via social media, it does beg the question: would her book have been equally as popular if she had written it alone and if she had not gained internet fame? It’s debatable.
British novelist Tim Parks has claimed that we live in a world of constant distraction following the advent of the internet and social media, and that it is killing traditional literary novels. The National Literacy Trust conducted a study in 2012 and concluded that 23.4% of the sample of 34,910 young people aged 8 to 16 did not read outside of the classroom. Even if Girl Online is not the greatest gift that humankind has bestowed upon this Earth, it does act as a gateway for young teenagers into the world of reading. In its first week Girl Online sold more than 78,000 copies. Practically selling like hot cakes.
In addition to the controversy surrounding Girl Online, Sugg’s boyfriend and fellow YouTube star, Alfie Deyes, was approached online by angry fans who claimed that his book, Pointless Book, was a cheap rip-off of Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal, and thus was in fact completely pointless. Despite this, Pointless Book charted at #1 on the Paperback Non-Fiction chart, a second has been released and a third is scheduled for release later this year. He must be doing something right.
It’s not just YouTube stars who are becoming big names on the bookshop shelves. Books are being published based on popular podcasts and blogs, such as Welcome to Night Vale. In July 2013 Night Vale was ranked second on iTunes’ top 10 audio podcasts and now it has been transformed into a novel, set to be released in October 2015. Our very own Dimly Lit Meals for One: Heartbreaking Tales of Sad Food and Even Sadder Lives, due for release on the 1st of October, is based on the popular Tumblr account. It features never-before-seen photographs of some of the world’s saddest and funniest solo dining stories. We predict tears will be shed, but whether they’ll be from laughter or heartache, we do not know.
Tim Parks was correct in saying that things are changing in the literary universe. There is such a wide variety of choice, and with online personalities publishing books we have a new generation of readers. That sounds good to me.