At the end of last year, a work friend and I were discussing her popular foodie-related Instagram feed. I told her that I had been thinking about starting a secondary Instagram about books and she suggested that I should. We spent the next hour talking about our love for Instagram, the certain themes and looks we wanted, the way in which you get followers etc. My interest was piqued.
On my commute home, I made a mental plan for my new project: I’d start it in the New Year, giving myself time to plan it out before starting officially. In true Valerie fashion, I got overexcited and posted my first photo that night. Since then I have been relatively obsessed with the realms of Bookstagram. I've been checking my personal feed less and checking my Bookstagram feed more – choosing to scroll through pictures of artfully placed books amongst 'bookish' decorations of bookmarks, tea mugs, fairy lights, and candles.
Bookstagram is a spiderweb; a mostly-female community in which internet friendships have formed and grown. Their friendships remind me of the ones I made in my late teens/early 20s on forums - smaller cliques within a bigger internet community. I see in their IG-stories full of screenshots of them talking on Skype, laughing at inside jokes and I remember how much it meant to me to have those same sort of friendships. It was as if you had found your place on the internet, you belonged, and it felt great! As I am now an 'older' user with with a full-time job, I decided not to get too involved. That’s a young person’s game and at 28, I feel practically geriatric. I am happy to stand at the fringes and watch people way younger than me bond over their common interests and love for the same author.
I chose to join Bookstagram because I love books. I am interested to see what others are reading and I like seeing pretty photos of books. I also like taking pretty photos of books. It's given me a reason to pick up my DSLR, which is something that I have wanted to do for so long. I'm building my ever expanding to-read list, which, on the internet, is shortened to TBR (to-be-read) for some unknown reason and have been inspired to write more, which I have made more time for recently.
In the past two months since I’ve started, my enthusiasm has waned. It started to get a bit repetitive and so I have found myself not enjoying the Bookstagram feed as much. With Instagram’s algorithm, I can’t help but feel like I just see the same 25 people’s posts. Everyone’s aesthetics are starting to melt into each other and I only really know a few individual users by their photos. I have started to follow non-book Instagram to break up the monotony so now my Bookstragram feed is full of books, my favourite celebrities, my favourite chefs, foodiegrams and drag queens.
Also there’s a grinding aspect of Bookstagram that I never knew about until I started. To gain more followers many users use the SFS (Shout-For-Shout) method, which I don’t mind every once in awhile, but can get extremely annoying in large amounts. I have seen users shout out 30 people at a time in their IG stories. Usually when that I happens, I happily unfollow. I am not a puritan, I do a SFS every once in a while, but I noticed recently that it never really benefits me. I rarely get more followers, and many people don’t end up shouting me back which kinda sucks. So I have started to focus on taking better photos and to be more active by striking conversations in other people’s posts. I have felt myself pull back due to the fact that I don’t have the time to put in the effort to gain a large of quantity of followers. I enjoy my photos and talking to people about books, that’ll have to do for me. The dream to gain 10k followers has died, but I have accepted it. It's all about having fun, right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
For anyone interested in delving into the world of Bookstagram, or any other Instagram niche, I highly suggest you have a peek at the community before you start your own. If it's something you're interested in doing, preparation is key. If you have a DSLR camera, I would highly recommend using it, and make sure you use hashtags. Being the nerd I am, I used this amazing tutorial series by one of my favourite users, myriadinklings to help me start out.
And of course, don't forget to follow me! :)