Digital Culture

The Rise of Bookstagram

by Emily Smith

Bookstagram. It’s exactly the mishmash you think it is, books and Instagram. Bookstagram, is the bookworm’s platform to artistically showcase their myriad of books and their vast love of literature. Many “Bookstagrammers” will take to this space to review a novel, to craft their own writing, to promote the beauty in reading, the artform in it, the healing in it. However, some are just using the aesthetic dreaminess of Bookstagram as a stage for promoting their own image. Regardless of how you feel about aesthetic trends, it cannot be denied that Bookstagram is making a huge impact on how literature is dealt and consumed. So how do you do it?

Find your niche. If you look to successful bookstagrammars like @WellReadBlackGirl, @ThisGirlHasn0name, @wordchild, @Frombeewithlove, they all have wide followings attributable to their unique angle. That angle is evident from their usernames – they all encapsulate their distinct personalities, what their message is, what their bookstagrams are trying to do before you’re even on their profile.@WellReadBlackGirl is a fierce activist promoting awareness around the lack of representation for authors of colour in the literary world. @ThisGirlHasN0name is the faceless critic stating we should take novels as they are – as escapism, as transportive. @wordchild does what their name states: they focus on the book as it is – written word, and how that translates into real life. @frombeewithlove and @alyxandriaang lean into the aesthetic of reading. It’s beautiful, it’s art, and it’s effortless, and now we want to do it too. I could go on, but ultimately, find what interests you and make it your specialism.

Engage. You might love to curl up in a cosy corner and shut out the world with a good book, but in your Bookstagram you must be active. People look to your media to see what you’re commenting on in the book world. Be as outspoken as you like. If you’re passionate about certain matters it translates and opens up much-needed conversations. Reach out to your audience, talk with them, just don’t stop the conversation. Who knows what could happen?

Identify your purpose. When committing yourself to posting public content, ask yourself, ‘what do I want to achieve with this?’ It will keep both yourself and your audience engaged. Do you want to inspire readership? Do you want to start a conversation around unknown, indie novels, or comment upon the literary canon? Whatever it is, keep that message at the forefront of your posts.

Create that image. Image is central to all the above. This is a world of aestheticism so flirt with our eyes, give us beautiful content that reflects the beauty in your work – it’s the decider of whether you get you noticed or not. 

Whatever your intention behind beginning a Bookstagram account is (we hope, like the English students we are, it’s because you have a deep, unquenchable thirst for books), there’s a certain formula for it to be a success. A formula showcasing carefully cultivated images, aestheticized to the highest degree, but it will never be without substance. Like our books, we desire meaningful content – however that looks.