Think of a best-selling author and who comes to mind? John Grisham perhaps? Lee Child maybe? Even Harper Lee back in the running after her long-awaited follow up to “To Kill a Mockingbird”? All good answers and right but how about Zoella…who? Or PewDiePie…what? Never heard of ‘em? Well, you're not alone.
First there were bloggers and then there were vloggers. Essentially, a new breed of celebrities cum personalities that make video blogs for their YouTube channels, they broadcast on a huge range of subjects – think fashion, cookery, travel and gaming, amongst others – and many amass not just millions but TENS of millions of subscribers.
Even the Pope is a fan. At a recent meeting at the Vatican he praised beauty vloggers singling out
Louise Pentland, who fronts a British based channel “Sprinkle of Glitter”, saying:
“It's a great thing. To preach beauty and show beauty helps neutralise aggression.”
So, why the reference to bestsellers? You might have read recently about the resurgence of the printed book and that, from 14th June this year, Waterstones plans to stop selling e-books from its website. And how colouring books for adults, with dot-to-dot books waiting in the wings, are storming the book charts. Well turns out the YouTube generation are big (and for big, read HUGE) book-fans.
With some 44 million subscribers and having clocked up 12 billion views, this Swedish “gamer” is more popular even than YouTube’s own Spotlight channel. If you’re feeling out of touch because you don’t have an inkling who he is then suck this up… in November 2015 he became a #1 New York Times best-selling author for his illustrated This Book Loves You and, more recently Time magazine named him one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People”.
Asked what he thought about his book and his writing he proclaimed,
“I think it’s fun for fans to be able to hold a hard copy of my thoughts.”
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, is a household name – at least if you’re a teenage girl, or perhaps the parent of one. Subscriber-wise she’s the poor relation of PdP with just a paltry 10 million subscribing to her primary channel and only 663 million video views popular! But that didn’t stop her novel Girl Online scoring the highest first-week sales for a debut author since records began. Selling some 78,109 copies in a week she has outstripped sales of books by notable writers such as JK Rowling, Dan Brown and even EL James of Fifty Shades-fame.
“Print’s dead, dude”
Seems it most definitely is not. And while a writer using 4 exclamation marks at the end of a sentence is to some of us too much to bear, if that’s how the kids want to write – and how they want to read – then so be it. It seems they have kindled (sorry!) a love for the tangibility and endurance of paper, books and print because, as Connor Franta so eloquently puts it, “It’s gonna be, like, real!”
You can check out what he, Zoella and other of their contemporaries think about books and writing here - enjoy it, it’s fun….really.