This summer I learned about a thing called bookstagram. You know, Instagram, but with a book focus (like Tumblr’s booklr). I rarely used Instagram in the past but figured that if people have accounts all about books, then that’d be the perfect combination of two of my biggest hobbies: reading and photography.
So I start taking pictures of books. Nothing fancy. Just the book and my hand or a table or whatever is nearby that I can set it on. But bookstagram accounts that seem to have the most success? They stage their pictures with all these props and nice lighting and I’m over here like WTF is going on?
As a book blogger, I feel a certain amount of pressure to take “staged” pictures for my instagram account.
The Pressure Is Real
I know, I know, book blogging is broad and I shouldn’t feel like I have to do anything and that going along with the status quo is just an attempt to get followers, etc. Trust me, I’ve seen the arguments and I get it. HOWEVER, there is a whole book community on instagram that I want to interact with.
I won’t attempt to speak for everyone, obviously, but I think there is this idea that good bookstagram pictures include:
- staged layouts
- a theme (for the account generally)
- ALL the hashtags
Not every one of these things may apply but there’s definitely themes among bookstagram accounts, whether it’s a picture style or type of prop (like funkos), and so on. And if you don’t have those things then what are you doing with your account?
As someone looking to expand my audience for my reviews, primarily, to others in the community, I turned to bookstagram as that new outlet. Except I’ve never felt like any of my pictures live up to those popular accounts that look beautiful and professional and all things book love. I’m definitely not faulting those accounts because your pictures are GORGEOUS and I love seeing all the pretty things in my feed. BUT for those who don’t have the time or means to take those pictures, I definitely feel like there’s a disconnect.
I feel like if I don’t try and mimic the idea of an account theme or I don’t use props or I don’t try to arrange my books in a particular fashion that it’s just a mediocre attempt. Despite knowing that’s not the case it’s still something that sits in the back of my mind.
I absolutely do not think that those who have those amazing bookstagram accounts (and even booktubers) are any better or “lesser” than bloggers since there’s a lot of overlap. I LOVE that we have so many outlets to share our love for books, but that pressure still lingers and it doesn’t even have anything to do with those people/accounts. Just what people like to see and there’s nothing to be done about that.
Do Book Bloggers Have Standards?
The blogging community has its own standards formed from seeing what works and what doesn’t. And that can create pressure to do one thing or another to stay up-to-date with readers and the industry. We’ve even seen it with bookstagram and booktube succeeding where bloggers don’t. Nothing’s wrong with that!
This doesn’t apply to just bookstagram. I’ve noticed that the trends move in waves through the community: reviewing the same books (ARCs, new releases) because EVERYONE ELSE is and that’s how you keep up with the discussion; having an instagram account, a twitter account; posting more than just reviews (I know here at NK that discussion and promotion posts get at least 5X as many views as reviews do). Blogging has changed over the years, evolved, and that’s normal. It’s okay. But with it I know that I, personally, feel pressured to follow these trends or watch the blog fall to the wayside. It’s hard when you put so much time into something. You want the world to see. You want it to succeed without compromising why you started it in the first place. But to succeed sometimes jumping on the bandwagon is the only way (case-by-case obviously, these are definitely just generalizations).
Me and Bookstagram
Personally, I noticed that my old pictures of books wherever I happened to take them really didn’t see much activity but now that I’m putting in a little more effort (i.e. 5 minutes of picture prep versus 0), I’ve seen a drastic difference. The blog gets more traffic from instagram. People comment on the pictures. It’s a good feeling, and some of the books I’ve reviewed are getting more traffic when I take pictures of them.
To be honest I don’t put much time into my pictures. I don’t spend half a day taking all sorts of pictures to post later. I pull the books off the shelf, spend a few minutes arranging them, take the picture, and post it. That’s me. I don’t have a lot of time so I do what I’m able.
But instagram and I will likely always be at odds as keeping with the trends changes.
Do you feel pressured to do certain things in the book community?
Do you run a bookstagram account? Thoughts?