YouTube, but Not BookTube

I watch quite a few YouTubers who review books– AKA, BookTubers. But bookish channels aren’t the only ones I follow, and I’m sure it will surprise no one to find out that the non-book channels I watch are history channels. I would hate to not be On Brand™, after all.

So without further ado, here are some of the history channels I follow on YouTube:

Bernadette Banner

Bernadette Banner was one of the first historical dress YouTubers I started watching in 2020. I found her videos relaxing, her sense of humor on point, and her information about fashion history eye-opening. While she had done projects ranging back to the late Medieval era, her primary emphasis is on Victorian and Edwardian history and fashion. She’s the one who got me to start sewing (by hand!), and even though I really only make basic projects like pillowcases and drawstring bags, I’ve come to enjoy sewing and look forward to Bernadette’s videos whenever she posts a new one.


Morgan Donner

Morgan Donner does a lot of historical sewing, too, but focuses on different eras than Bernadette Banner- mostly on the Medieval and Renaissance periods, but with some Victorian era shenanigans, too. She’s hilarious an informative, and always willing to try new things– see her 500 Years of Hairstyles video, in which she undergoes a radical hairstyle transformation. She hasn’t posted very many videos in the past few months, but that’s because she and her husband moved all the way across the country. They’re getting settled into their new lives now, though, so I’m hoping to see more of Morgan as she gets her new sewing room put together.


Abby Cox

Abby Cox’s primary emphasis is on late 18th century American fashion, but she’s been doing a lot more with Victorian/Gilded Age and Edwardian history lately. But even though the 18th century doesn’t capture my interest the way that the Medieval era does, Abby’s videos are still entertaining and informative. Like Bernadette Banner, she does a remarkable amount of research and provides links to her online sources in case you want to read up on whatever subject she’s talking about. Her history of the witch hat is especially informative.


Sewstine

Sewstine is a doctor who loves to sew 18th century clothing for herself and her family. Her videos don’t include a lot of history (and I can’t blame her for that, as she’s an incredibly busy doctor and research takes a lot of time), but I do enjoy seeing her put together the frilly, ruffly gowns she loves so much. I wouldn’t wear them myself, but her enthusiasm for the clothing of her favorite era is catching. It’s always fun to see what new thing she’s made.


Rachel Maksy

Rachel Masky is the least historical of all of these channels, but her videos are a constant delight no matter what she’s making– and she makes a lot of things. A book bag made of books? Got it. A Robin Hood costume for her dog? Got that, too. Knightcore fashion? Hobbit Aesthetic? Whiskey Grandpa? She’s got it all. After a long week of work, it’s always great to settle down to watch her videos on Friday nights.


The Welsh Viking

Jimmy is a PhD student and historical re-enactor who focuses on (surprise!) the Viking Age and the Norse culture that goes with it. He’s all about busting the popular myths that people have about the Vikings and digging into what we actually know about Norse societies of the Medieval era. He’s funny and informative, and encourages people to look into history and not just accept what Hollywood or the Victorians tell us about the Viking Age. Plus, Jimmy is fluent in Welsh and will occasionally give a brief Welsh language lesson at the end of his videos.


Modern History TV

Jason is an English historical re-enactor who focuses on the late Medieval era. He is a skilled horseman who jousts as well as fighting hand-to-hand in full armor. His videos cover a range of topics, from making ink and rushlights to Medieval food, what a knight’s life would have been like, using Medieval weapons, and horses. He has a stable full of gorgeous horses. You can watch the videos just for the horses.

13 thoughts on “YouTube, but Not BookTube

  1. On a slightly different note, my daughter and I were saying how Tik Tok has managed to change the book selling industry…

  2. We’ll see if TikTok truly changes it. From what I have heard, most of TikTok’s recommendations are blacklist books by white authors. A “TikTok Reccomends” table at Barnes and Noble is not a significant change. But I’m not on TikTok, so I’m probably missing a lot.

  3. My daughter cited Taylor jenkins Reid and Colleen Hoover as people who tik tok made totally relevant. I don’t go to that particular table at Barnes, but it is interesting to see it there. And when tiktokkers are off back lists, how does that change publishing? Will there be a tik tok award? Will literary high brow be cast aside? All interesting points to consider.

  4. I don’t know that TikTok made them popular. TikTok didn’t start getting popular until, what, 2018? 2019? It came out in September 2016, and Reid’s Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo came out in spring 2017. It was all over BookTube pretty much immediately, well before TikTok. And I’ve been seeing Colleen Hoover in the blogosphere and on BookTube or quite some time. Has TikTok helped them after the initial fact of their popularity? Sure. But did TikTok give them a boost at the beginning of their career? Probably not.

  5. Sure. I’m not saying that BookTok isn’t influential. But it hasn’t seemed to really make anyone’s career. It’s boosting older books by established authors, rather than pointing out debut authors or underhyped ones.

  6. So. I went onto one of my bookish Discord servers where they do a lot more on TikTok, and here was the general consensus: TikTok can help individual/small audiences find a market, but it hasn’t really affected the larger book market. Sure, Taylor Jenkins Reid or Madeline Miller can get a brief boost in sales for backlist titles, but that isn’t a sign of overall marketing trends. TikTok can influence the buying habits of certain groups of consumers, but it doesn’t mean that the big five publishers are noticing or changing their habits when it comes to acquiring new titles. Once in a while, you get a monster hit like Twilight, which resulted in a glut of YA vampire stories until people got tired of it and moved onto something else. This doesn’t need social media to move it along. In the 1990, there were a bunch of “teen girls form a club and have suburban adventures”. There are always trends in publishing, social media or not.

    Now, sure, TikTok and YouTube can have an effect, but it seems to be a more ephemeral one. There are a handful of authors who are constantly discussed, but for the most part, books on the fringe might get a moment in the sun before they’re left behind.

    As for your 16yo niece, we’ll, 16yo girls have always had an influence on the market. That’s why Nancy Drew, the Babysitters’ Club, and Twilight are perennial favorites. Part of the market is always geared toward them (moreso than teen boys), even if the industry regards the likes of teenagers as beneath them (as it does with the romance genre, which quietly keeps all of the book industry alive so that the companies can publish the highbrow titles that win awards but don’t sell many copies).

    Will Gen Z take over the publishing industry? Yes they will. That’s how things work. And they will take their sensibilities with them (and I think this is a good thing). But overall, the online book community has a smaller effect on the publishing industry and on the general public’s reading habits than we like to admit.

  7. No. But they’re boosting them now. There’s no reason Seven husbands should have gotten press this year. The new Reid isn’t that good. And Hoover’s book was in Goodreads top ten for awhile….average books at best that deserved to stay in the background

  8. I think Gen Z is about to hijack publishing…this is good and bad. My 16 year old niece has all of a sudden become a reader, which is marvelous. However…letting this age determine what’s published could be, let’s just say, dicey

  9. I enjoy watching some of those channells as well, Bernadette Banner and Rachel Maksy. I think I probably learned of Bernadette Banner from your blog… can’t remember, but I enjoy her content.
    Also, I like the discuss there on BookTok. I’m not on TikTok, but a few people do believe it helps to drive book sales. Having worked in a bookstore, I do think it helps to send a some people to purchase certain types of books (mostly YA/romances, imo) but I wouldn’t say it’s a major driver. I believe booktok is just what’s trending now. It used to be booktube, then it was bookstagram, and now it’s booktok. I sure it will switch to whatever social media trend that comes along next.

  10. I love Bernadette! Her videos are so soothing.

    Yeah, I think BookTok is affecting consumer habits to a small degree, but like you said, it’s a social media fad like Bookstagram and BookTube. It’s not broadly affecting marketing or the book industry as a whole.

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