Exploring BookTube at New York Comic Con
Last weekend, I attended New York Comic Con. I loved seeing that among the superheroes and Jedi, the book community had a place at this large convention. The plethora of Potter apparel, backpacks, and cosplay I saw throughout the weekend was a testament to the presence of readers at NYCC.
I had the pleasure of attending a panel with some of YouTube’s most prominent BookTubers, a community of YouTube content creators who film book-related videos. Panelists included Christine Riccio (PolandbananasBooks), Sasha Alsberg (Abookutopia), Kat O’Keeffe (Katytastic), Jesse George (JesseTheReader), and Natasha Polis (Tashapolis). For the next hour, they discussed the evolution of BookTube and their experiences over the years.
One topic of discussion was about the pros and cons of being BookTubers. Christine spoke of the importance of BookTube in spreading reading and how putting herself out there online helped her to come out of her shell and be more confident. On developing an audience, Kat spoke of people finding your channel while searching for a specific video but staying for your personality. But on the flip side, as more and more people subscribe and YouTube continues to grow, there is added pressure. There is, of course, the general creative pressure of YouTube that the panelists touched upon but also, as Kat points out, the pressure of differing opinions. An example of this is for pressure that comes from viewers to like or not like certain books.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a book-related panel without some discussion of Harry Potter. During the audience Q&A session, the panel was asked about their thoughts on the always divisive character Severus Snape. Christine commented on Harry naming his child after Snape. “Snape is an adult, and he’s constantly abusive to Harry and his classmates, and I can thank you for being nice and ultimately helping Harry win the war, but you’re an abusive a**hole,” she said. Kat added, “I think Snape is a really interesting character because he is so complex, and it is realistic for even if you are an adult to be an abusive a**hole, but Harry should not have named his kid after [Snape]. That is way too far. I don’t understand how Harry could do that. Is he going to name his daughter after Umbridge too?” This comment was immediately met with roaring laughter from the audience.
Potter was brought up again when the panel was asked about the timing of reading a book and whether that can possibly affect your opinions on it. Tasha immediately responded, “I started reading Harry Potter, and I stopped. I like the movies more because I grew up with those so… I should have read it when I was younger.” Sasha, who was very open during the panel and has also been open in her videos about her struggles with dyslexia, added, “Or it is okay if you didn’t read it when you were younger. Like me, I didn’t read it because I physically could not read it, and I think that it’s fine. I’m still enjoying them at the age I am now.”
All in all, it was a fun panel with a lot of great insights into the online book community. If you don’t already watch BookTube, I highly recommend it. There were a few members of the audience who had never heard of BookTube and seemed very excited to learn more about the community and check out some of the videos. I have been an avid watcher of Tasha, Sasha, Christine, Kat, and Jesse for years now, and I definitely recommend checking them out if you don’t already watch them. I hope BookTube continues to have a presence at major conventions like NYCC for years to come!
Do you watch BookTube? Let me know whom your favorite BookTubers are!