The Booktube world has always been a small, but forceful community on the internet. The platform really hit its stride in the mid 2010s, with Booktubers gaining increasing power and influence in the publishing industry. Several of the original Booktubers published books of their own or worked directly with authors to make content.
But in the last few years, the community seems to have lost its way a little. Successful Booktubers saw a drop in their viewers or diversified their content to include more media, lifestyle, and writing content.
This attempt by big Booktubers to appeal to a new audience seemed like the beginning of the end for the platform, as channels were no longer just a place for enthusiastic readers. Lines were being blurred on who ever counted as a Booktuber anymore.
Enter @uncarley in November 2020 with her first video about reading three of Harry Styles‘ favorite books. A simple concept with a huge impact. The video currently has over 150,000 views, which for Booktube is viral these days. The platform is built on an extensive network of small channels where a viewership of 10,000 can be seen as a popular channel.
Overnight, @uncarley was the new star of the Booktube scene. Carley Throne, known by her channel name uncarley, continued to post extremely successful content throughout the next year. Her most successful video has garnered over 300,000 views.
Carley has become so popular that other Booktubers are capitalizing on her success, making videos where they read books she has recommended. She isn’t just starting trends; she is the trend.
This caused a lot of people to ask: What caused this one Booktube channel to blow up? There are thousands of small channels on Booktube that have made content for years and have only a few hundred subscribers.
At the moment, Carley is the queen of the platform, consistently posting popular content that gets a lot of love. Her videos center around celebrity reading challenges, themed book recommendations, and seemingly random fresh book videos.
But Carley’s success is not an on accident and it isn’t a fluke. Let’s take a look at what makes the Booktuber so popular and how her content is expanding the Booktube community.
Unpredictability in the Booktube Mold
Many Booktubers fell victim to routine as the continued their channels over a long period of time. At times, Booktube has seemed very formulaic, with different people making the same styles of videos.
Although some audiences thrive on consistent content, knowing a Booktuber is going to always make a monthly TBR and a wrap-up video every month just isn’t exciting. There are only so many book hauls or reading vlogs one audience can handle. Frankly, some audience members got tired.
Uncarley doesn’t make lots of the traditional Booktube content people expect. Uncarley came straight out of the gate with her series “Celebrity Book Club” where she reads three of a celebrity’s favorite books and reviews each one. Although she maybe wasn’t the first to read celebrity recommendations, she certainly popularized the style in a new way.
Although this series is a huge success, she doesn’t simply rely on this one type of video for views. Her channel is littered with strange videos about books. Whether she’s aggressively defending Zelda Fitzgerald, taking a deep dive into the 2008 adaptation of The Clique, taking on the “hot guys reading” Instagram account, or recommending you a book based on your favorite One Direction member, she always has something new to offer.
Uncarley’s content always seems original and new. She doesn’t have a formula or schedule, each video is unique and viewers never quite no what to expect from the channel, in the best way possible.
Playing the Algorithm
One reason Carley has had such large success is she knows how to get people to click a video. By making many videos about celebrities, not only does she tap into the Booktube audience, but that celebrity’s fandom as well. She always focuses on celebrities with large internet fanbases who just can’t scroll past a video that mentions their favorite celeb.
She continually showcases young readers like Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Swift, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Emma Chamberlain. No Oprah’s tired book club or reading the same book over and over with Reese Witherspoon. Each celebrity she chooses is relevant in that moment, so she capitalizes on the viral nature of their name to get more people a chance to see the video.
Aside from “Celebrity Book Club”, she posts incredibly clickable videos that always reach to a new audience outside of Booktube. Whether she’s making videos reviewing the books mentioned in the Gossip Girl reboot or trying out “Girl Boss” books, there is a good chance for someone from outside Booktube to click on her content.
As Carley brings in these new audience members (and maybe even new readers), she doesn’t gatekeep the conversations she is having with her audience. She doesn’t use many Booktube terms that might scare off people who’ve never come across a Booktube video before. Even if you aren’t an active reader, you can enjoy watching her read, without being the least bit confused.
Carley also often shows herself using her local library resources, buying books second hand, and avoiding spending money on books. She shows he readers that you don’t need to buy hundreds of dollars worth of books to be a reader, you just have to read.
And if you just enjoy someone else talking about books while you sip your coffee and lay in your bed, that is fine too. No pressure to keep up with what she’s reading, you can enjoy her content without knowing the book she’s discussing.
An Older Booktube Audience
Many of Booktube’s original viewers are growing up and looking for their reading content to grow up too. Many of the original fans are in their mid-twenties, dealing with a whole new set of challenges as they navigate the world on their own.
Not every Booktuber discussed new types of books as their subscribers got older, with many people in the twenties and thirties still reading teen fiction. Although everyone should be reading the types of books they want and should never feel ashamed of what they enjoyed reading, some of these young readers were looking past teen romance and fantasy for something that related to their new point in life.
Uncarley reads an interesting mixture of New Adult books, popular releases, poetry, and literary fiction that her make her ideal for the twenty-something reader. She is talking about what is cool with the people her age, not only talking about the next Sarah J. Maas book to hit the shelves.
Authenticity on Booktube
Even that phrase can be incredibly polarizing, as the Booktube community continues to debate the ethics of certain practices. Some people HATE sponsored book content, with people being paid to promote certain books by the publishers. Instead of Booktube videos taking a genuine look at what someone was choosing to read, they felt more like ads for the Scholastic Book Fair, but with fairy lights. For many, this was the beginning of the end of enjoying the Booktube community.
Carley has sponsorships, but not typically with book publishing companies. She is typically sponsored by whatever brand is currently sponsoring every podcast you listen to and every basic youtuber. Although she’s still getting paid for her work, publishers aren’t influencing what she reads which makes the whole experience seem more authentic.
As a bonus, Carley isn’t afraid to talk about her mental health and how that affects her reading either. She isn’t pretending everything in life is okay and she doesn’t need to. Her fans are happy to see that she is struggling just as much as they are. Even though she may be ruling Booktube at the moment, she hasn’t been afraid to talk about how that feels and the challenges she’s dealing with off camera.
At every turn, Carley is a snarky, loveable book fiend that you can always be rooting for.
Featured Image via Youtube