The Youtuber Book Controversy

Binge by Tyler Oakley.  The Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester.  The Pointless Book by Alfie Deyes.

A new trend has been developing in the past few years: Youtubers writing books.

Created by three former Paypal employees in February 2015, Youtube has since then grown from a small video-sharing platform to a colossal online empire.  300 hours of new videos are uploaded every minute.  With over one billion users, hundreds of millions of hours of video are watched every day, and billions of views are generated.  

Youtubers are people who make and post Youtube videos for a living, and with Youtube’s wide viewership, they are some of the most successful and powerful people in the world.  Many famous Youtubers have released merchandise, and lately, they have begun to write and publish books, which have been met with overwhelming success in terms of popularity and sales.

Here’s why this is a problem:  Professional writers are being kicked out of the spotlight.  People who depend on selling books to make a living are being edged off the market by Youtubers, who are just earning extra money.  Youtubers who write books are already famous, well established in the online community, and making lots of money from advertisements, merchandise, endorsements, and sponsorships.  To them, being published is great.  It’s another item off the bucket list, an accomplishment to tick off, and on top of that, some extra money.  But for professional writers, being published means food on the table, a necessary job.  Writing is a passion that they’ve committed their lives to.

me typewriter

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The book publishing business is already competitive.  Youtubers’ books take attention away from other books that, frankly, have more effort put into them (for Youtubers, books are a side job, for writers, this is their career).  It’s not that difficult for somebody to slap together an autobiography or series of memoirs.  It’s also not difficult for famous people to generate profit from writing said biographies, and then selling them to dedicated fans who are eager to support them in any way.  I don’t blame the fans (I am one myself), but my humble opinion is that Youtubers should stick to making videos (and to an extent, merchandise), and leave some breathing room for professional authors.  

The book market is already risky for writers.  It’s a tough career path, paved with creative difficulty and rejection from publishers.  If you’ve ever tried to craft the perfect piece of prose, you’ll know the struggle.  Throw in the threat of a firmly established Youtuber (essentially a celebrity), and brilliant writers who deserve recognition and success will be overlooked.

If you were a publisher, would you rather invest in the work of an unknown author, or of an author who has had previous success in other fields that involve retail, such as selling merchandise as Youtubers often do?  Youtubers are a safe bet for publishers, a guaranteed revenue.  The problem with this is that publishers are only willing to accept a certain amount of work.  This means that the more Youtubers that get accepted for publishing, the less opportunity there is for professional writers.  

But Yi Nuo, what’s wrong with Youtuber’s books?  I’m glad you asked, because that is what I’ve been trying to get at here, the very core of this issue: Creative integrity.  Youtubers can put together any mishmash of thoughts and words as they like, and their fans will snap them up.  This is just a side job for them, but they will still experience lots of success and earn lots of money.  On the other hand, a writer who is not famous will slave away at their work, putting blood, sweat, and tears into their piece, only to be rejected by publishers, or not generate nearly as much revenue.  My personal values lead me to believe that quality of work is the most important, and that creative integrity should be maintained.  And that is not happening with Youtuber books.


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Youtubers and publishers are fault for being blind to- or outright ignoring- the importance of integrity over profit.  Consumers add fuel to the flame when they buy Youtubers’ books simply for the sake of supporting their favourite internet personalities, and not because the books are any good.  It’s not fair that Youtubers can whip something up in a year, call it a book, and make millions, while people who have dedicated their whole lives to writing find it difficult to be published.  


If there was to be a call to action for this post, it would be something along the lines of “Don’t buy Youtubers’ books!”  However, I’m not trying to generalize the Youtube community, nor insult their creativity and skills.  For those using Youtube as a springboard for a legitimate career in writing, I commend and admire you.  For those who have written about something they truly believe in, and have put their heart and soul into, you are what every Youtuber-turned-writer should aspire towards.  

But what cannot be denied is the amount of absolute crap that some Youtubers are writing (and in some cases, ghostwriting) that gets published, while hardworking writers are not acknowledged for their skills and dedication.

sad man

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After all’s said and done, I really do appreciate the effort and innovation Youtubers undoubtedly put forth into their work.  Their platform of choice, Youtube, continues to grow past boundaries and barriers, stretching new limits every day.  I definitely look forward to seeing the new horizons and milestones that await Youtubers.

In the meantime, I ask that you, the consumer, be more aware of your choices.  Is the book you’re buying truly worth it?  Is endorsing your favourite internet star more important than spending your hard-earned money on something with actual meaningful content?  Are you aware of the consequences of your purchases?  I know I’ll be thinking twice the next time I pick up a Youtuber’s book.  Beyond just this, it’s important to be mindful of all the things you purchase, as they are investments for yourself and for our economy’s future.

Final message: Be careful in what you buy, because your decisions affect more than just yourself.


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Why, hello there!

If you read through this whole spiel, kudos to you.  This week’s prize is a free invisible lifetime supply of chocolate.  And if you don’t like chocolate, 1. what are you doing with your life? and 2. you can have your favourite candy instead.

This blog post has been very rant-y, and I apologise if that’s not what you came here for.  But hey, catharsis is this blog’s namesake, and it’s got to live up to it somehow.

Finally, what your thoughts are on this topic? Please feel free to comment!  As you can see, I have some very strong opinions on creative integrity and consumerism (dull-sounding names for urgent, pressing issues).  I’d love to know what topics you have strong feelings about, because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as ranting together.  And if you have any issues, questions, or constructive feedback, I’d love to hear it!  If this is the first blog post of mine that you’ve read, here are the links to my 1st blog post, and my about page.

Thank you so much for reading!

-Yi Nuo


4 thoughts on “The Youtuber Book Controversy”

  1. […] As per usual, comments, questions, feedback are all extremely appreciated!  If you liked this a lot, please feel free to give me a cheeky follow, or favourite this blog post.  *Shameless self-promo continues*  If this is your first time on my blog, here’s my About page, and here’s last week’s post. […]


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