Booktuber: identity, roles, and essential tools

If you like being in front of a camera and you love books: you could become a booktuber.

Besides, the data on reading are always discouraging, in May 2020 (between 15 and 74 years old) said they had read at least one book. So there is always a need for someone to promote something as wonderful as reading, especially to the younger generation.

But what does a BookTuber do? Basically, the BookTuber talks about and analyses literary works, provide advice, and reviews books via YouTube; in my view, that has an important value, namely that of promoting reading.

This is an experience that arrived not long ago, so we are not yet at the level of attention of the English booktubers, but they are often young people followed by other young people.

This can provide a further glimmer of hope for the publishing world, as well as underline how digital can be used to support other sectoral markets. In fact, I am heartened to know that there is a social world where people talk, discuss, and reflect on books.

In this article, I had the pleasure of interviewing Matteo Fumagalli, one of the most followed booktubers on the net with over a hundred thousand followers on his YouTube channel. Matteo explained to me how he approached the profession of Booktuber, as well as which tools he uses and how he creates his video content.

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Who is and what does a booktuber do?

livio taddeo

matteo fumagalliThe term booktuber indicates an understanding of the nature of the content a person offers on their YouTube channel: the word book refers to the main content concerning books.

Actually, mine is not just a literature YouTube channel, but certainly, books are the main focus. In general, one can consider oneself a booktuber all those who use the YouTube platform to promote reading, talk about books, recommend readings, and have their say in the publishing world.

In reality, the booktuber is only a specific type of influencer who falls into the category of book influencers: that is, influencers, or digital creators, who talk about books. In addition to booktubers, there are also bookstagrammers who mainly use Instagram and book tiktokers who mainly use TikTok.

So actually the right generic term is Book Influencer, while Booktubers are those who mainly exploit the YouTube platform.

livio taddeo

How did you approach this profession?

matteo fumagalliMaybe calling it a profession is a lot, let’s say I consider it a passion first. Certainly, there is enough commitment and work to call it a profession. But since I also have other jobs, I prefer to refer to it as a side job that is based, mainly, on the creation of a social network where I try to share what I think about books.

Be it positive or negative opinions, since one column, in particular, deals with critiques of books that I define as trash.

Let’s say that, in general, I start from the spirit and the idea of telling the world of reading in an engaging way, freeing it from the social idea of something that takes time, engages, and is thought-provoking, but that you are still obliged to do. In my opinion,

it is important to convey that reading is primarily a pleasure so that all the beliefs we are taught by parents or other authorities are wrong, i.e. that it has to be done because you become smarter, learn and increase your vocabulary.

booktuber meaning

First of all, a literary work is chosen because it triggers something in us and interests us, all the positive consequences that there may be from reading so much actually come later and, by the way, it is not taken for granted that there are.

Moreover, if we really want to bring reading to become more “mainstream”, it should be promoted as a form of pleasure that should not be interchangeable with other art forms, since each has its own language and medium.

Also because they are all extremely important and it is wrong to think that one art form is better than another. In each of them, there are both successful and mediocre works; so I am absolutely against the cliché that the film is worse than the book: it just depends on which film and which book.

Moreover, it must be emphasized that the experience and, above all, the work itself are two different things, not least because they come from different people, from different authors using different means.

Ultimately, these are the considerations I have chosen to pursue in my channel: reading is a pleasure and, above all, not a substitute for something else, because reading, like other art forms, is not interchangeable.

These considerations are very important to me during my work as a BookTuber.

livio taddeo

How do you decide and create your content?

matteo fumagalliI post one video a day, which is a lot, but I need that because I have a very diverse audience and, above all, I want to have the freedom to talk about what I want.

If I did not have this possibility, I would have to eliminate content that I would like to do and my activity as a Booktuber would become forced. Instead, publishing once a day allows me to present both contents that will have a certain following and videos on topics that are particularly niche.

In the end, let’s say that I structure an editorial calendar by balancing between more pop content, which will interest a large portion of my audience, and more specialized content which will interest a smaller number of users.

This balance means that the audience is very diverse: some follow me for certain things, others follow me for everything, and still, others only follow me for trashy reviews or when I talk about cinema. But that’s perfectly fine because everyone chooses the content they want to follow.

Let’s say I want to talk about what interests me and the macro topics are: books, films, cinema – since I am a super cinephile – and sometimes also music and pop culture. In any case, books are the focus of my Booktuber channel and I have absolutely no problem talking about one that is out of print.

I don’t care to talk about something just because it makes a fuss, and when I happened to talk about something that was gaining success at the time, I did it because it interested me. Ultimately I don’t go out of my way to look at or read super-celebrated things if they don’t interest me.

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What skills a Booktuber must have?

matteo fumagalliIf we talk about managerial skills, let’s say that you definitely learn them over time.

When you open a YouTube channel you’re a bit off the cuff, you present yourself as you are and it’s right to be that way because it’s important to maintain a certain transparency: the public can tell when you’re exaggerating, when you’re masking the truth, when you’re swallowing the pill or you’re exaggerating your praise of a certain book.

So as far as I am concerned, the most important thing is to be genuine and actually tell what you think, without putting on big masks. Sure you have to be polite, but if you didn’t like a book.

It’s better to get straight to the point because it’s also nice that you create that debate, through comments, with people who liked that book, thus creating a much stronger and more interesting interaction

If we want to talk instead about more technical skills, surely public speaking can be useful, as you are in front of a camera, without having to have perfect rhetoric or overly cultured language.

Because this also depends on the mood you want to create within the channel, but you need to find your own key in exposing what you want, in order to create connections with others. You might find a list of the best social media marketing books useful.

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In this sense, in addition to speaking, listening is important, although a Booktuber does not interface with people, with the exception of events and occasions where you can meet those who follow you. However, followers can write positive insights in the comments, perhaps someone points out interesting titles to cover, but also right advice and criticism.

In that case, it is necessary not to be closed but to be open to listening, since it is important not to create a hierarchy, so I advise an aspiring Booktuber not to have his ears bandaged but to learn to listen. because often the people who follow you give you much more than you give them.

Then other skills are absolutely organization and time management because it is important to guarantee a lot of content, even in the busiest periods as in my case where I do a lot of work. Ultimately you have to organize yourself to get out the amount of content you promised your audience, whether it’s one a day or one a week.

livio taddeo

What was your training to become a Booktuber?

matteo fumagalliI can say what studies I have done, which were, however, irrelevant to my work as a Booktuber: I went to grammar school, the Art Academy and studied film. I actually believe that my real training is in books since I have always read and I am passionate about reading.

I don’t think it takes any training to “exploit” the Internet to tell your passions. First of all, if you want to talk on YouTube about the books you read for your own business, you don’t need that much training, then it also depends on the results you want to achieve.

The digital skills, I developed during my university years, attending Cinema and New Media, but ultimately in my opinion the real training is books

livio taddeo

What kind of tools do you use for your work as a BookTuber?

matteo fumagalliI started with a webcam, it gave me a “low-fi” aesthetic edge that I really liked. At that time I didn’t even edit, because I talk on camera – maybe too much – so I didn’t need to. Then I moved, and the desktop computer stayed in the old house, so now I use an SLR, not bought for that purpose but which I already used for work.

So I would say you don’t need the “big camera”, in my opinion as a booktuber you can use a good digital camera, maybe affordable, as long as you have good light

When you switch to the digital camera, however, you have to consider the need to edit because, trivially, the camera breaks up the file into several clips which then have to be put together. On a technical level, microphones are also important, because bad sound annoys the user more than a grainy or slightly out-of-focus image.

In addition, you may need lighting, although I use natural lighting because I stand in front of a window, however, the light is essential to get a good image, nowadays ring lights are very popular, i.e. circular lights used for photographs and close-ups, as they are cheap and allow diffuse brightness, so I recommend them as a possible investment.

Finally, you need a computer and an editing program, I use Adobe Premiere but there are plenty available. However, in reality, the biggest job is not the production and post-production, but the preparation of the video, this is the most demanding phase.

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livio taddeo

How much can a booktuber earn on average?

matteo fumagalliSo, it is unthinkable that you can earn money by talking about books on Youtube, let’s say it can be fine as a rounding off of a salary.

This is because, of course, Youtube does not give a fixed salary, the income depends on the amount of advertising within your video, so there are times of the year that are happier than others.

Ultimately it is not possible to make a living as a booktuber, but it could be a second job to supplement your income. If you want to earn money, you have to do other things, perhaps talk about more general topics such as video games, fashion, or beauty.

Be careful though, even in this case there are difficulties because the market is very saturated and, above all, good people already exist. In my opinion, you don’t have to open a channel to make money, that’s a consequence that can come.

Conclusion

This interview was enlightening, I was struck by how Matteo Fumagalli is using digital in an innovative way, becoming a Booktuber to talk about his passion for reading, with simplicity, irony, and candor, managing to involve a constantly growing community.

For sure, to achieve a result like this, you need to have good skills as a Social Media Manager, as well as an uncommon literary culture, but, as Matteo suggested, you need to learn to listen, developing the ability to take the advice of the people who follow you.

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