I started bookstagram June of 2014. It wasn’t called as that then, it was just merely an instagram account solely dedicated for books or other bookish things. I made an account just to pass the time, to destress, and just look at other people’s ever growing collection of books. I have stalked so many accounts wishing I could own that amount of books too someday. I didn’t own a lot then, as I was not really a hardcore reader not until college, except for the occasional assigned readings in high school, Sweet Valley High and Goosebumps, I was just an ordinary teenager who lounges in front of the tv, or chat aimlessly over the phone with my classmate gossiping over some lame things high school girls worry about. Now I envy those high school kids these days, for they are born with so much options when it comes to books. They have everything now. Back when I was their age, we didn’t have enough YAs talking about vampires or wolves, we didn’t have Rainbow Rowell or Stephanie Perkins. Yes we have JK Rowling then, which I was more than grateful, I was acquainted with Harry when I was 14, but other than this, we didn’t have much. Now don’t look at me like that, I am not that old, I am only 26.
So I was not exposed that much to books when I was younger. For an instance I have only read The Great Gatsby last year, as opposed to all the readers who probably have read it when they were 16. Because of this, I hardly call myself a reader, I was a late bloomer so to speak. I have yet to read classics, and I wish I could be given an entire year just to read them, or get paid at reading them that would be even more amazing. To date I have only read 194 books (yes I’m basing this on Goodreads) this is not probably all the books I have read, but these are the ones I could remember.
What am I driving at here? Im saying, bookstagram helped me a lot. I mean a huge deal. I have learned about books, I probably wouldn’t pick up on my own. I have discovered authors I wouldn’t know about had it not been for the constant recommendations of other bookstagrammers and the greatest take away of all this, I get to meet a lot of amazing people whom I share the same passion with. I have met a family (holla to my Bookish Pinoy sisters), I’ve met amazing new authors, I’ve made real friends. And it was such an amazing experience. I have fangirled like crazy, cried like a heartbroken girl over a death of a fictional character, swooned over a fallen angel, laughed my heart’s content over a witty character all that and so much more. And I get to widen my horizon, try out a genre I wouldn’t even dare try before (hello Sci-Fi haha, but I’m still hesitant about Horror, I’ll get to it errrm someday, I hope haha).
So onto what you came here for. Haha.
I have been asked a couple of times how to start a bookstagram, I don’t think I’m the right person to ask, but here is my 2cents.
I say, you don’t have to own a lot of books, or brand new or newly released ones for that matter. Work with what you have. You don’t need to ask your parents to buy you this and that because it is what is in (hi teens I’m talking to you), don’t go starving yourself because you wanted that newly released book in hardcover so you could have something to flaunt on your bookstagram feed. You buy books to read them and love them, not for aesthetic purposes. I have known far too many people who do this, buy books just so they could have something new to post on their accounts. That’s now how bookstagram works, that’s not how life works. (I’m sounding like a preacher here, but listen to my point, haha) Social Media is as shallow as it is, we all know that, we post things people would like to see, even if it ain’t true at all. But don’t fall to this kind of mentality. Bookstagram isn’t about showing off, it’s about sharing what we love – books. And please don’t go asking people to give you books, this is not only annoying but, I mean what on earth? Don’t do that, it’s not nice. Let them give it to you wholeheartedly. They buy their own books with their own hard-earned money, and you will just blatantly tell them to give you books, sweetheart we barely know each other. (I have been a victim of this, I can’t believe people do that, I mean what the hell?!) If you can’t afford the books, save up for it. Live within your means. You don’t have the latest book in the Remnant Chronicles? IT.IS.FINE. You will not die because you don’t own it yet. You’ll live, I promise! My point is, it’s okay if you don’t have the latest books yet. Nobody will stone you for that. Enjoy the books you already have, I’m sure you wanted them just as bad before you got them.
And don’t get me started with hyped books. I hated hyped books. What I normally do is let the hype die down, then that will be the time I will read it, save of course for occasional exceptions. But that’s how I do it. At least I’m very good at avoiding spoilers (but oh my good lord, I just read a Heart of Betrayal spoiler and I want to strangle the person, kidding! But seriously, why would you do that? Weren’t you hugged enough when you were a kid?)
Okay enough of my preacher side.
How about taking photos. Well, I’m not one to talk about taking great photos, I think my photos are just fine. Well, look at the other accounts, their photos are so crisp! I envy them so much, especially the ones with autumn leaves as backdrop, haha those are my bookstagram goals, but sadly there is no autumn here in the Philippines so I just work with what I have which is mostly a white bedsheet! White bedsheets always make the perfect backdrop throw in a coffee or a cup of tea and a bookmark and voila you have an instagram worthy photo. I remember when I was just starting bookstagram, whenever I take photos of my books, my siblings will look me as if I’ve lost it, with their what-the-hell looks coupled with a question: What do you get out of it? They ask me that all the time. And I just laugh at them, and say I get a lot of likes haha and a lot of friends and authors asking me to review their books, so yes, I get a lot out of it. Now, it is not something foreign to them, my sister for an instance would bring home Christmas themed donuts and will say “I bought them so you could include it in your photos, this will look nice!” or my brother who used to tease me whenever I take photos of my feet with what I am currently reading, will say “Take your photos here, the floor looks nice.” haha! I swear I now have a very supportive siblings! My other sister even got me Mr. Tea to include in my photos!
And yes natural lighting is the key! Plus a few apps to help you improve your photos. I use Snapseed to adjust lightness, contrast, saturation and all that. Then use VSCO for filter. They have a lot of filters to choose from so play with it. Phonto i use to watermark my photos. I didn’t watermark my photos before, but now I have to, because there are a lot of instagram accounts that used my photos without my permission whatsoever, let alone some credits, worst, they even crop the photo where the watermark is placed. Because of this I had no choice but to put watermark. After all this is covered by copyright. So I reserve all the rights over them. Ha!
Consistency is also important, you want your feed to look uniform and cohesive. Make it pleasing to the eyes. Plan a feed you would want to look at. 🙂
Next. Be friendly! Talk to people! Reply to the comments on your feed. Whenever asked for recommendations, give one. Praise other people’s feeds, do a shout out from time to time. Hold a giveaway if you wish. Make bookstagram worth your while.
And the most important advice is to enjoy. Make it fun and light, something you spend your time on whenever you’ve been so stressed with school, work, or life in general. Make it a breather. Make it something you would want to be a part of.
It’s never about gaining many followers, it is meeting new people. It is sharing our love for books. It is a community. So don’t stress yourself over it, just have fun and be surrounded by people who love books like you.
Happy bookstagramming! 🙂