Essays

BookTube vs. BookTok: Which Account Should You Start?

Books and videos seem like an odd pairing at first blush. Books are the choice medium for allowing the reader’s mind and imagination to do much of the heavy lifting. Videos are a much more passive medium, providing almost all interpretation for the viewer’s consumption. And yet, these two are successfully colliding on social media in the form of BookTube and BookTok. The marriage is so successful, in fact, that a lot of people have turned them into successful side hustles.

So, you’ve decided you want in on this hustle. Now you must consider BookTube vs. BookTok. Which is better? Easier? Who is watching these videos? Which account should you pursue?

The Basics

BookTube is older, as is the platform that it lives on: YouTube, a subsidiary of Alphabet. These videos are largely in landscape format, up to 12 hours long with a verified account, heavily supported by ads, and widely varied in content.

BookTok is the new kid on the block, just like its platform TikTok. These videos are more mobile-oriented in portrait format. TikTok videos can only be a maximum of three minutes long, creating both a limit to the type of content and a lot of creative approaches to delivering content.

Making Videos

BookTube, being YouTube, is a more traditional video platform. Widescreen videos can be recorded on a smartphone or tablet, sure, but you can also use a dedicated video camera for more features and even higher definition. YouTube viewers are going to be more particular about not only the quality of the content, but also the quality of the video itself. This means you’ll want to invest in proper lighting and a good camera (or smartphone) to get the job done.

YouTube has no native video editing, which means you’ll need to invest the time and possibly the money learning to edit. A quick Google search can turn up a number of free options, and there are always the higher-end options like Adobe Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro, or Sony Vegas. Either way, you’ll need to learn some basics in order to produce professional-quality videos.

BookTok is easier and entirely self-contained. Designed to work purely on your smartphone, the app contains everything you need to record, edit, and post your content. This does make it the easier option, though it also limits your options to what TikTok is providing. While quality still matters on BookTok, the need for a high-end camera or good lighting isn’t as prioritized.

Content

A lot of content on BookTube lines up with content seen in a lot of book blogs. These videos are covering the latest and greatest books. Creators are giving in-depth reviews, long-form videos of rearranging their bookshelves, and serialized read-through reactions of books they love and books they hate. BookTubers are creating the type of content that viewers are putting on in the background for hours at a time.

BookTok, on the other hand, leans more into emotional reactions to books. There are reviews and recommendations just like on BookTube, but the short form leans more toward big facial expressions, emojis, floating text, and pop songs in the background. These videos are intended for an audience scrolling through the app, watching a video with or without sound for a minute or so, and then moving on by. Also, as many BookTubers like to joke, BookTok frequently covers older books. Not necessarily classics, but books that were popular on BookTube five or six years ago. This can be a big factor if you don’t want to only cover brand-new books in your videos. This is also one of the biggest BookTube vs BookTok clashes.

Monetization

BookTube is YouTube, and we all know there are lots of YouTube celebrities bringing in major cash through their channels. While BookTube might not be as lucrative as some content types, the YouTube Partner Program clearly spells out how creators make money on their videos. Keep in mind, though, that unless you’re bringing in thousands of subscribers and views on the regular, it’s very hard to bring in enough money to even make this a legit side-hustle.

BookTok is newer and is still figuring out their monetization program. They have established their TikTok Creator Fund, but to even start bringing in cash, you need at least 10,000 subscribers and 100,000 video views in the last 30 days. Even if you are hitting the minimum benchmarks for monetization, the per-1000-views pay rate is much lower than YouTube.

With both BookTube and BookTok, monetization doesn’t just come from the platforms. Successful book video creators can often get free advanced reading copies from publishers, get paid through partnerships, and leverage their viewership to Patreon.

BookTube vs. BookTok

So now that you have all the information, how do you decide which to create?

Do you want to focus on the newest books and like to talk on camera? BookTube.

Do you want to review new and older books? BookTok.

No time to learn how to edit your own videos? BookTok.

Three minutes just isn’t enough time to say anything worthwhile? BookTube.

If you’re feeling really feisty, you can always make both. Use BookTok for quick reactions and recommendations for older books. Use BookTube for new books and in-depth reviews. Whichever platform you’re using, consistent creation and interaction with your viewership is key. Now get to making those BookTokTubes!

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