Vloggers leading readers on literary adventures becomes rising trend

People read books at the Beijing Library in Tongzhou district, Beijing. Photo: VCG

People read books at the Beijing Library in Tongzhou district, Beijing. Photo: VCG

The emergence of book vloggers has offered people a window to gain a quick understanding of books potential readers might be interested in and helped develop a passion for reading in an era dominated by short videos and fragmented information. 

On social media platforms, a growing number of book vloggers are sharing their reading experiences and recommending books they have read to their audiences through short videos and images. One book vlogger has a total subscriber base of over 40 million across all social media platforms, with the total blog views exceeding 5 billion, and driving the sale of over 2 million books.

Xiaoxuan, a Beijing-based book vlogger who has over 2.3 million fans on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, told the Global Times in a recent interview that he regards the role of book vloggers as being akin to that of a “gatekeeper.” 

“We stand at the threshold of a literary work, condensing many works into short or long videos and enticing viewers to linger while we stir their intrinsic interest in reading. We strive to let people feel the lure of a book so that they can choose to delve deeper into it, which is like stepping through the gates of the work to experience the pleasures within,” said Xiaoxuan. 

To merge his literary passion with the power of short video-sharing platforms, Xiaoxuan launched his book-sharing account in 2021 and is known for his distinctive insights into mystery novels. 

He said that being a book vlogger changed his mind-set and has helped other people develop an interest in mystery fiction.

“While reading more books, I focus more on how to tease out the essence of the works, thinking about the structure and logic from the perspective of the authors. This leads to the transformation from a reader’s mind-set to that of a blogger. Additionally, I’m happy to get to know many authors, editors, and fellow bloggers, and among them are quite a few that I had previously admired,” he noted. 

“I feel honored that my job could exert a subtle influence on potential readers. Some people who previously didn’t love reading or had prejudices against mystery and detective fiction have gradually changed their views after watching our vlogs. They began to feel the joy of reading and started to enjoy mystery fiction,” he said. 

Creating resonance

“I want to take one minute to create an opportunity for people to open a book. I hope the content I share is informative and comforting for the audience,” another book vlogger Duliang, who has over 40 million followers across social media platforms, told the Workers’ Daily recently.

Duliang said that her team spends more time crafting the content instead of short video production because “it’s not that people don’t like reading, but rather that they don’t understand the book.” 

Compared to traditional offline book marketing models, book vloggers can convey the highlights and values of a book in just one or two minutes, quickly eliciting emotional resonance from readers, she noted. 

In 2023, a classic essay titled Twelve Letters to the Youth by Chinese literature and art theorist Zhu Guangqian received renewed attention thanks to Duliang’s video, which garnered 6 million views and drove sales of around 30,000 copies across the entire network. 

“I’m happy that more and more people are becoming interested in reading. Literature is more accessible to the public thanks to the efforts of book vloggers,” she said.

Read between the lines

Zhang Zheng, an associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that book vloggers address the contradiction between fast-paced lifestyles, quick-consumption cultural habits, and the relatively long and immersive reading experiences that people desire. 

“They also cater to the demand of internet users for high-quality content on social media platforms, as well as accommodating their tendency to hoard information,” said Zhang. 

The fervor of book vloggers reflects the continuous improvement of the social reading ambiance in recent years. They present a unique platform where vloggers and viewers engage in discussions about books, which is an important manifestation of the development of nationwide reading and a literary society.

There is currently a wide range of high-quality vloggers who focus deeply on content, but there are also some who, in order to maintain exposure and pursue instant profit, use exaggerated titles to attract traffic, with no substantive content.  

“We need book vloggers who genuinely read and comprehend, with real feelings and sincere reflections. They are the ones who can delve deeply into the content of a book, interpreting it thoroughly while also deciphering the subtleties and implicit meanings conveyed by the author,” professor Zhang noted. 

Some vloggers who focus on reading classic works including
Dream of the Red Chamber and
Romance of the Three Kingdoms share these characteristics, he said.

They can read between the lines, extracting the essence of the author’s expression and understanding the implications beyond the literal text. These vloggers not only comprehend the logical arguments presented by the author, but also grasp the underlying messages, guiding readers into deeper contemplation and resonance, according to Zhang. 

When advising readers who find it difficult to squeeze time for reading, Xiaoxuan said it doesn’t matter how much you read. The value derived from thoroughly understanding a single book can extend across various aspects of work, study, and interpersonal relationships, far surpassing the benefits of skimming through dozens of books. Therefore, the quality of reading matters most, he said.