If you’re following along with me here at The Biblio Blonde, then you’re probably a Book Person. Book People are a special subset of humans. Not sure if you qualify? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I often have a book (or at least a loaded e-reader app) with me everywhere I go?
- Have I ever turned down social plans to stay home and read?
- Are my friends and family stunned at how often I visit the library or bookstore?
- Do I get giddy over pictures of beautiful books and overflowing shelves?
- Is my favorite place on earth a comfy sofa or chair, with a blanket, mug, and book?
If any of those apply to you… well, you know the drill. Of course you’re a Book Person!
We Book People love to discover great new titles, and to meet others who love a good story as much as we do. And one of the best places I’ve found to meet those new friends is Instagram.
Surprised? I was too at first. But within Instagram is a close-knit community of readers, affectionately referred to as #BOOKSTAGRAM.
A Bookstagram account is shorthand for an Instagram account dedicated to featuring books. This might mean pictures of your shelves, your piles of books to be read, or a beautiful scene with you, a book, your porch, and a glass of wine… the options are limitless, and there are some *incredibly* creative souls in this community that take the most gorgeous photos!
I’ve been on Bookstagram for a while now (come find my feed here), and I’ve discovered a few things about the community that I want to share with you!
Five Lessons I’ve Learned About Bookstagram
1: Bookstagram is about more than just photos!
The very essence of Instagram, of course, is the photos… that’s what sets it apart from many other social media platforms. So it would stand to reason that Bookstagram is all about the book photos.
Well… it is. But it is SO much more than that! Your Bookstagram photos are your foundation. Your calling card. It’s why people take a look at your account in the first place, and the photos need to be good to get traffic and viewers. (Not necessarily good as in, professional level with layers of detail… but interesting, clear, and relatable.)
But once you have that base of photos in place, the real heart of Bookstagram lies in the interaction with the community. Groups are formed as people chat or challenge one another in the direct message feature. Readers and bloggers feature a book they just finished in the photo, then share mini reviews and thoughts in the caption. People host giveaways for books or gift cards, and hashtags are used for themes and events. And if you need a new recommendation for a great read? These people have more than you ever knew you wanted!
Bookstagram is a place to find not only new books, but great new friends.
2: Build relationships, not numbers!
If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, you’re probably familiar with the follow/unfollow game. We all hate it, but it still happens when people are more concerned with gathering followers, than with actually engaging the followers they have.
Don’t follow someone on Instagram if you’re just doing it to get them to follow you back. Even if someone follows you, don’t automatically follow back if you’re just not interested in their content. (I know some people do that, but I haven’t found it to be effective.) Be genuine and authentic.
And, once you follow someone, interact with them! Don’t just scroll through liking all the photos and never taking the time to comment or converse. No, you can’t engage with every photo that comes through your feed. But read the captions. Answer questions that are asked. And if you particularly love a thought or a picture, say so. Not just because you want them to follow you back (although that often happens), but because that’s how you actually build community.
3: You don’t have to break the bank.
When I first started exploring Bookstagram, I was overwhelmed at some of the photos I saw. Don’t get me wrong, they were gorgeous. But a few of them made me think I couldn’t possibly create a beautiful account like that… they were so detailed, so planned out, so… extra, as I think the kids are saying these days. And it appeared that the people behind these accounts had bought truckloads of books, props, and decorative items to achieve the look.
It’s true that perhaps some do buy everything under the sun to make lovely flatlays and scenes. But trust me, it is not necessary to break the bank or go on a spending spree to showcase great Bookstagram photos.
Some of the best photos I’ve seen are as simple as someone holding a book with park scenery in the background. Or a stack of books you already own arranged in an interesting way. People post pictures of their own books, library books, e-readers, and more. And while it’s true that it helps to have some props or items of interest in photos, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Look around your place and see what you have that will work. Candles, your glasses, a favorite mug with a hot beverage, soft blankets, pop culture items… all of these can add interest and variety to your photo!
4: Photo editing is your friend!
Remember when I said your photos need to be good enough to make others want to browse your account in the first place? Blurry pictures, shots with too wide a frame where you can’t see details of the book, or cluttered photos with no theme? Those aren’t what you want to post here.
Most Bookstagrammers don’t use a fancy camera with a lighting studio and expert level software. I’m sure some do. Personally, I wouldn’t know what to do with most of that! I take the vast majority of photos with my iPhone, and set up in the best background and lighting I can manage. Then, I edit, using basic tools like PhotoGrid, the filters and adjustments right on Instagram, and the basics of the photo app on iOS. Crop, adjust the lighting, add a filter… if you want, sometimes add a frame or a special effect.
It’s pretty simple, but those few extra steps often make the difference between an okay photo and an eye catching one.
5: This is an AMAZING community!
Are you a blogger who wants a place to share more book photos? Don’t have a blog and don’t want one, but just like to talk books and look at the pretty pictures? Read a couple books a month and want more ideas? Read ten books a month, have a huge following, and read every hot new title as soon as it’s out (or before)? Doesn’t matter… everyone is welcome on Bookstagram.
In the last month alone, I have participated in fun story games, joined a private group focused on accountability to check off our reads from Net Galley (a provider of advance reading titles for reviewers), met some great new people, and for better or for worse, added to my TBR pile like CRAZY! I have met people that I count among my friends… we can chat about nothing, vent about something, ask for recommendations, share content, and a whole lot more.
It’s just plain fun. And I can’t really think of a better reason than that to participate!
So, how do you find this great community and all these amazing readers? It’s easy, but you have to know the passwords… or in this case, the hashtags!
The key is to use hashtags to discover other Bookstagrammers… add them to posts you make, and search them to find others to follow. I won’t go into this too much, but some good ones to start with are #bookblogger, #readinglife, and of course, #bookstagram! Some people just convert their current IG account into a Bookstagram account, and some start a fresh account from scratch that is dedicated to all things books!
What do you think, friends? Are you on Instagram, and do you have a Bookstagram account? Have you found it to be an amazing community? And, if I were to do more posts on Bookstagram with more tips, hashtags, featured accounts, and the like, would you be interested in reading and sharing those? Let me know in the comments!
I hope your week is off to a fantastic start, everyone…. happy reading!!