‘Bookstagram’ is a term used to describe the bookish side of Instagram. It is, I guess, a type of community, where people post pretty and artistic photos of books. Well, it is now, at any rate. I joined the community in 2015 and I feel that it has changed a lot.
My own photography skills have gotten better over the years, although even now I find that sometimes I’m not happy with the pictures I post. But here’s the conundrum: is it about the quality of the pictures, the artistry, time, and often money put into them, or is it about the books that are shown?
When I post on my bookish Instagram, the pictures are generally about the book I’m currently reading, or I’m shouting out a book I want to read. But when I look at other Instagrams, I see people posting about books they have no idea about but they look pretty so that’s good enough.
I can’t compete. I just honestly can’t! I don’t have the money, or the time, and I’m not even allowed candles where I’m living at the moment. I don’t spend hours on my bookish photographs, unlike many other people on Instagram. I don’t make money or get free books from it.
I look at bookstagram now, see people who have joined just already this year and have already surpassed 1k, 5k, 10k followers and think: How did they do that? Because, honestly, how did they?! I want to know these people’s secrets because it’s incredible, but then these are the people who are constantly uploading posts, deleting them, posting on their stories, spending hours on bookstagram and making it look like they got 5k followers with only 20 photographs.
I feel the pressure of having nice, new books instead of the second hand ones I read. If you don’t post about the “popular” books, you aren’t going to get the likes that boost your ‘gram. I might post about a book that isn’t as well known – say Nutshell by Ian McEwan, or an older SF work – and get half of the amount of likes compared to if I post about a ‘popular’ book like the Grisha trilogy or Harry Potter, even if I prefer the relative unknown book and am professing my love for that.
And what about the Instagram photo challenges? Alright, so I have taken part in a few of these, but I haven’t done for a long time, because I simply can’t make my photos good enough, or I don’t have the props (eg Funko Pops, or candles). But surely, say if you had a ‘blue book’ challenge, you might be taking a photo of a book that is blue and posting it even if you didn’t like the book in question?
Basically, I just worry that there is a clash in cultures on bookstagram. I know people who are on the website because they love books, and want to show off their favourite books. And then it seems that there are people who are on there because they want to take pretty pictures, and I worry that the reading aspect is being lost. How many times have I see on Instagram Stories people putting things like “I’m so sorry I haven’t posted, all my pictures have been ugly” when they’re always better than mine anyway? (Answer: lots.)
This may sound like a rant, and I guess that in a sense it is, but it’s a concerned rant. No, I don’t post the best photographs on the app (by any means!). No, I don’t have the biggest following (at all). But what I do have is a love of books, and I don’t want to see that being lost.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Are you part of the bookish side of Instagram? What do you think of the culture?
This post was inspired by teaandbookreviews’ post.