A Joycean’s Foray into the Bookstagram World

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I made a stupid this month and requested over 30 books for review. I figured ‘what the hell, it’s my birthday month, so I can indulge myself’, but yeah, 30-something books on my reading list now. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to read and review them, so you’ll be getting many more reviews and book recommendations, but yeah, lots of books. I’m thinking of getting a Kindle to help me with that, since it would be easier to keep up with my ARC’s on the train, out and about, etc. Anyway, that is not the point of this post. I wanted to talk about Bookstagram a little, because I have an addictive personality, I’m a hermit, and I like rambling.

So, Bookstagram is basically an Instagram community of readers and book lovers, focused mainly on book photography. There are many publishers, authors, bloggers, book reviewers, bookworms, fandoms, bookish web-shops, and more. I’ve been a bookworm since birth. My mom had me reading before I could walk.  When I discovered the Bookstagram community a couple of months ago, I realized that there were so many other book lovers out there and I wanted to be a part of that community. After spamming my friends with bookish photos for a month or so, I decided to take the plunge and start a purely book-related account last week. Here are my observations so far.

  1. Interaction: I love the fact that a lot of the more prominent bookstagrammers interact with followers. As someone new to the community, it makes me happy to know that there isn’t a latent sense of snobbery or superiority. We’re here because we love books and we love to talk about them with other people who love them. In this first week, I’ve connected with a bunch of wonderful people from all over the world, who share their love of books in a million ways, be it photography, graphic design, jewelry, clothing, fandom creations, etc., and it’s awesome to discover someone who can make you a custom Ravenclaw ring or a ‘Darth Vader drinking a cup of tea’ tee (harhar) or a mug with your favorite quote on it.
  2. Giveaways: I haven’t won any yet, but that doesn’t matter. Books and bookish things are awesome, and they’re even better when they’re free! Mostly kidding, but it is nice to see people sharing literary swag and books and whatnot. I hate seeing people spam the crap out of everyone with their 187 entries though. Give other people a chance, dude! That being said, I don’t really understand those “mini-milestone” giveaways, the “I reached 200 followers, let me do a giveaway and have my followers force others to follow me!” giveaways. Which brings me to my next point…
  3. Followings: One of the things I’ve noticed that I don’t much care for is the obsession with follower counts. While I get the occasional#SFS and I do like helping fellow booknerds reach their goals, I don’t really get the obsession with follower counts. Sure, I’d love a few more followers, but is it really that big of a deal? Does a larger following quantify the value of my love for books? Does the number of people following me on Instagram have any direct effect on my life offline? I understand it in terms of marketing, since a lot of bookstagrammers have web-shops or the like and Instagram is, after all, a social networking platform. But for the average booknerd like me, who just wants to take pictures of her books, because they are the pride and joy of her life, I don’t really care. All I want is to look at pictures of books, find other bookworms, and connect with people who share my interests. I’m not shitting on anyone’s parade. I understand that for some, it’s part of their marketing strategy, and for others, it’s important for whatever reason.
  4. The “Theme” Thing: So apparently, a Bookstagram “theme” is pretty much just the filter that the bookstagrammer in question uses in their pictures and it usually applies to their entire feed. But I like different filters and I usually only have time to take my book pictures at night, so I like to play around with varying filters and tools. A few days ago, I saw someone post a long and drawn out apology post for not having a set theme on their feed and I felt bad for not having one either, until I learned what they meant by “theme”. I don’t know if it’s some sort of unwritten rule of Bookstagram that you have to have one, but a lot of people take it very seriously. I haven’t seen the mythical blank photo dividers when someone changes their theme, but I think that’s hilarious.
  5. Copyright Issues: So, like I said, I’ve been on Bookstagram for about a week, and I’ve already had someone blatantly steal my photos along with the captions and everything. As a journalist and an editor, I think that plagiarism in any way, shape, or form, is horrible. As a young adult in the modern world, I realize it’s not as serious as someone, say, stealing this blog post and posting it as their own or stealing my manuscript and sending it to Randomhouse with their name on it. It still sucks when someone steals your work though, so I get why many bookstagrammers watermark their images. I don’t have the energy or the attention span to do that for every photo I snap.
  6. *extra edit* I forgot about this one. But the lack of classic literature kills me. There’s an Austen or a Vonnegut or a Woolf every once in a while, but not nearly enough! Okay, just needed to add that one in there. Move along.

So, these are my thoughts on Bookstagram. I’m glad I found this little corner of the social media universe and it’s awesome to know that so many people share my love of the written word. I think it’ll be more of a bookish refuge for me from the stress of adult life, somewhere I can go to look at pretty photos of books and teacups, cozy reading corners and overflowing shelves, where I can visit my mind library in peace whenever I feel like it. Anyway, good tidings and all that jazz. Happy reading!

 

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