BookTube Vocabulary

Now that I have started my study, I am coming across a lot of community-specific vocabulary on BookTube. This is not surprising! According to James Paul Gee’s theory of Discourse (Gee, 1999), discrete Discourses will have their own unique “toolkit” of language, gestures, beliefs, and props, among other things, that are employed by members of the Discourse. Newbies to the community may learn and use these vocabulary words to signify their identities as members of the Discourse of BookTube.

Out of all the things I am recording in the early stages of data collection, this use of language is perhaps the most immediately interesting. As I am typing field notes into my computer on Microsoft Word, I am struck by the number of red squiggles under words that my computer does not understand. I have had to add several key terms to computer’s dictionary. Clearly this vocabulary will be part of my final project in some form, and I can already see myself providing a brief list of key terms at the start of any conference presentation I present on the topic in the future. So I am using this space today to begin building my glossary of BookTube terminology. These will just be a sampling of terms, as I expect to collect more words as my project progresses.

YouTube Vocabulary

Content Creator  — 1. A YouTuber. 2. A person on YouTube who makes and uploads videos to share on the site.

Channel — A YouTube account where a user can upload his or her videos.

Vlog — 1. A video blog characterized by a person speaking directly to the camera. 2. (In some contexts) a specific style of video where a person records events from his or her life and pieces them together to tell a visual story.

BookTube-Specific Vocabulary

BookTube — A loosely-defined sub-community on YouTube devoted to vlogging about books and reading.

Wrap-up — A video where the content creator shares all of the books he or she has read over a period of time, e.g. a monthly wrap-up.

TBR — Short for “to be read.” These are the books one plans to read.

Read-a-thon — A book community event where readers plan to read more than usual. These can be general (eg, Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon) or specific (eg, Crush Your TBR Read-A-Thon), and are often accompanied by social media chats and events.

Readalong — When two or more readers read a book at the same time, often while sharing and discussing their thoughts through social media.

Book Haul — A type of video where the content creator shows books purchased or acquired.

Unboxing — A type of video where the content creator films him or herself opening packages to share their content.

Discussion — A type of video where the content creator shares his or her opinion on a topic, with the intent of having a discussion in the comments or just adding their opinion to the community as a whole.

Spoiler — Information about the plot of a book, movie, or television show that spoils the surprise or suspense for a reader or viewer.

Booktalk — A special type of book review where the content creator discusses the whole book, including spoilers.

Book Tag — A type of game where content creators create a list of book-related questions (usually on a theme) and answer them in a video. They then “tag” other members to answer the questions.

Live Show — A video that is presented in real time on YouTube. These are usually filmed using Google Hangouts, and are saved to the channel as a full video once the live show is over.

Gee, J. P. (1999). An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method. New York, NY: Routledge.

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