The Book Envy is Too Real

Twilight was monumental to me.

It was the first time I ever thought, “I could write something better than this.”

A few days ago at work I saw, not one, but two upcoming books written by popular YouTubers. (Both were released Tuesday.) Two more to add to the growing pile of books written by YouTubers–some of whom have more than one under their belt.

With the exception of a select few, they’re all memoirs. And if I knew that’s what it takes to get published these days, I would have started some half-hearted channel years ago.

But let’s dial back the bitter for a second.

Now from a business standpoint, it makes sense to try to reach the younger audience. With other mediums delivering instant gratification (like video games, TV shows, and yes, even YouTube videos) it takes a lot to get the young people buying books. But if you give a book deal to someone who’s got influence over millions of teens…

It’s safe to say that none of these books will have critical longevity; they’re pet projects churned out for the fans. They’ll be on the New York Times top seller list for a week or two before dropping off because there isn’t much substance there. Unlike, say, a current best seller like The Girl on the Train,  who’s been on the list for 66 weeks–over a year.

But none of this is new. Before it was YouTubers, it was (and still is) celebrities. Publishing houses have always sought out the popular in order to turn a profit. Business is business, after all.

The first time I saw a book by a popular YouTuber, I thought, “Well, it was only a matter of time. But good for him.” Then the onslaught came, and the frustration started setting in. Often times you’ll hear, “At least it gets the kids reading.” As if the quality of what they read doesn’t matter, because of course it does. Some of these books are utterly ridiculous. There is literally a book that has nothing but nonsense. And while they might be entertaining to look at, that hardly constitutes reading.

Still, that’s a separate discussion for another day.

Publishing houses will always go for these sure things, regardless of quality. The best a person can do for their sanity is acknowledge that this isn’t a new trend. And that furthermore, this is a practice that will persevere–and years from now, we may get book after book from a new social media network.

Above anything though, there should be a love for the craft. We should write because there is no alternative. Anything other than personal satisfaction is a bonus, not a right. So while it may seem like an insult to see these books published year after year, we shouldn’t take it that way. We should acknowledge that it took work for those YouTubers to cultivate their audience. And if they want to write a book,then so be it.

Ultimately, we live in a world where both Fifty Shades of Grey and Gone with the Wind can coexist.


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