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How 18-year-old Olivia Seltzer turned The Cramm, her Gen Z newsletter, into a book

On election night in 2016, a then 12-year-old Olivia Seltzer sat with her parents, glued to the television and waiting to find out who would be the next president of the United States. She didn’t have much interest in politics before and admits she naively thought all of the world’s biggest problems had already been solved.

But being from a Jewish family and attending middle school in Santa Barbara where many of her peers were the children and grandchildren of immigrants, she and her friends had more recently began talking about the rise in antisemitic attacks and shared their fears over undocumented loved ones suddenly being deported since it was all over the news. The main issue, she said, was that she and her young friends didn’t have any historical context as to why these things were happening, or still happening. They weren’t being taught about it in public school and mainstream news media outlets certainly weren’t catering to Generation Z viewership.

In January 2017, Seltzer decided she wanted to do her own research and break down the latest headlines for Gen Z in a daily newsletter she’d call The Cramm. She took the money she had received for her 13th birthday and bought the domain name and began delivering the news to her followers in smaller, more easily digestible bits. That newsletter now has over 2.5 million subscribers in 113 countries across six continents. She’s still waiting for her first subscriber in Antarctica.

“Simply put, you can’t change the world unless you know about it,” she said during a recent phone interview from her Santa Barbara home. Seltzer just turned 18, graduated high school and though she’s still weighing her options for college, she said she was accepted to Harvard University. Her first book, “Cramm This Book: So You Know WTF is Going On in the World Today,” a meatier version of her newsletter with a slew of current topics and the history behind them, will be published Feb. 15.

“It sounds so basic, but it’s very true,” she said of the concept. “If you don’t know about something happening in the world, you don’t have the power or the tools you need to try to make the world a better place and I think it’s really important for a generation as motivated and as activism oriented as my generation to be informed about the issues we’re facing.”

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