How a Handful of YouTube Stars Landed on the New York Times Bestseller List


Emily Ospina, 14, likes to read one thing and one thing only: books by her favorite YouTube creators.

“When I started hearing about YouTubers writing books, I got really excited because I like learning about their lives more,” Ospina told Mashable at Stream Con, a digital content conference held at the end of October in Manhattan.

The New York City resident, originally from Colombia, is a self-proclaimed fangirl -- meaning she will buy everything and anything that has to do with her favorite digital stars. Yes, even books.

It took her just three days to finish Joey Graceffa’s book In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World. (Ospina owns two copies: one signed, one unsigned.) She said that she's planning to read YouTuber iJustine’s book, which she purchased at Stream Con, just as quickly.

And she’s not alone. Young fans from the digital-first generation are racing to stores to pick up the latest titles published by the YouTube community -- a phenomenon that's led the publishing industry to openly embrace the digital space.

Aimee Gautreau, community relations manager at Barnes & Noble’s 86th and Lexington location in New York City, said the store brought 4,000 copies of 11 different books written by creators to Stream Con. By 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31 -- the first day the exhibition floor was open -- a third of the books were already gone.

“I haven’t seen anything like it in a while,” she said. “The fans are responding to the [YouTube] personalities. The kids buy the books alongside tickets to meet and greets so they can get the books signed. It’s nice for them to have something to hold on to.”

I think it’s fun for fans to be able to hold a hard copy of my thoughts.

FELIX KJELLBERG, A.K.A. PEWDIEPIE

YouTube was once known as a home for amateur videos; its original motto, after all, was "Broadcast Yourself." Now the site has become the go-to home for all sorts of content creators, many who have followings in the millions. Their products range from basic video blogs to web series and how-to videos. The Google-owned platform also recently launched an ad-free paid subscription service, YouTube Red, which will eventually boast original series and movies.

Just as the platform has evolved, so have its creators. Many of them crafted their personal brands with the help of their video blogs, using them as a springboard for world tours, music careers, podcasts, feature films and, most recently, books.

In the last year, more than a dozen books by digital creators (here’s a guide to recent titles) have been released; more are on the way. YouTube creators with book deals have become increasingly common as Internet stars have become more and more mainstream.

“Generally, book publishing is by nature slow to try new things until it sees proof of concept, at which point follows a stampede of acquisition—[which is] often too late,” Jeremie Rubie-Strauss, a senior editor at the Simon and Schuster imprint Gallery Books, told Mashable.

But in the case of YouTube books, the “proof” publishers needed came quickly.

“YouTubers Shane DawsonConnor Franta, Joey Graceffa, Zoella and Hannah Hart were the first major successes, and they laid the groundwork,” Rubie-Strauss explained. “When Grace Helbig hit No. 1, all eyes fixed upon YouTube as potentially the next big thing in publishing. When Miranda SingsTyler Oakley,PewDiePie, and Dan & Phil all hit the top of the New York Times lists in quick succession, the genre was probably cemented industry-wide.”

As a result, the publishing world rapidly expanded in order to accommodate YouTubers. Some traditional publishers are creating imprints dedicated to digital stars; other players, including studios like The Weinstein Co. and multi-channel network AwesomenessTV, have also joined the fray by launching their own publishing divisions with YouTube creators. Most recently, HarperCollins’s HarperOne division announced the launch of a new, digital-first imprint called HarperLegend.

“We’re showing people that print isn’t dead,” said Ariele Fredman, publicity manager of Keywords Press, a Simon and Schuster imprint launched in May of 2014 with Hollywood’s United Talent Agency.

 

“I think we are seeing [that] fans not only want to consume videos online, but they also want a tiny piece of that person to live on their bookshelves,” she said during a Stream Con panel.

And that desire goes both ways: Natalie Novak, a UTA agent, said during a panel called "The YouTube to Book Transformation" that many digital influencers came to the agency with an interest in expanding their personal brands through books.

There's also a high demand among fans.

Felix Kjellberg, known to the YouTube community as PewDiePie, told Mashablethat his fans are the ones who inspired him to write This Book Loves You, which hit bookshelves in October. 

Since he launched his YouTube channel in April 2010, Kjellberg has accumulated over 40 million subscribers and 10 billion video views, making him one of the platform's most influential users. A recent Forbes list ranked him as the world’s highest-paid YouTube star, reportedly worth $12 million.

We’re showing people that print isn’t dead.

ARIELE FREDMAN, PUBLICITY MANAGER OF KEYWORDS PRESS

Kjellberg’s success is innately digital. He launched his channel by making “Let’s Play” videos, which showcase a gamer playing through a video game alongside footage of that player’s narration and reactions to the game.

His book, which features pictures alongside absurd-yet-inspirational quotes, was a way to branch out from that format.

“I wanted to bring them [fans] something creative with a twist,” Kjellberg toldMashable in an email interview. “I think it’s fun for fans to be able to hold a hard copy of my thoughts, which is something different than the YouTube video viewing experience.”

Like Kjellberg's, most of the books published by YouTubers are extensions of their creators’ channels. Agents help a writer tap into his or her pre-established digital personal brand in order to deliver new content that aligns with what that creator's fans want to see, albeit delivered in a new, physical way.

Some creators opted for more text-heavy storytelling, including Tyler Oakley. The vlogger, who has amassed over 7 million subscribers and 500 million video views, released a book of essays called Binge in October.

 

“The book has allowed me to dive into topics I never felt were appropriate for a short 3-5 minute video,” Oakley told Mashable in an email interview.

BingeNew York Times

 

“Whether it's a serious topic or a hilarious mishap, I finally get to tell my untold stories in a deeper way,” Oakley added. “Storytelling is storytelling regardless of the medium, and of course trying a new format allows the creator and the consumer a new way to connect.”

Back at Stream Con, 17-year-old Victoria Lin and her 12-year-old cousin, also named Victoria, clutched copies of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, a novel by YouTuber Paige McKenzie that's based on her eponymous webseries. This was the third creator-penned book they'd purchased in the past few months. They both also own Graceffa’s book (which they got signed at Stream Con) as well as YouTuber Connor Franta’s book, A Work In Progress.

“I think there’s a difference between reading things in your hand and on your phone,” Lin told Mashable. “The feeling of picking up a book and going through the pages is definitely more real than something digital.”

[By Saba Hamedy and MJ Franklin] [Read More] [From Mashable] [Image From Dailyrecord.co.uk ]

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