I’ve been a Bookstagrammer for over a year now.
My disclaimer to this post is that I love it. I love the people, the enthusiasm for books, the creativity and artistry that goes into taking pictures. It’s a lot of work, it really is, and it just goes to show how incredibly passionate this community is.
But it’s become steadily more obvious that the most popular Bookstagrammers are the ones that own a LOT of books.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but this is what I see as the overwhelming majority. And to be clear, I also own a lot of books, so this is something that affects me as well. I am extraordinarily privileged. Not only in terms of my whiteness, but in terms of the financial ability to purchase books, especially hardcover books.
The thing is, there are so many people who can’t. And on Instagram, it’s the aesthetic quality of books that gets you likes and follows, not so much the interiors. That does bother me. It bothers me that someone who takes incredibly gorgeous photos with e-books will almost definitely have less followers than someone like me, who has a lot of books.
I’m not going to lie: I love seeing photos of the “big Bookstagrammers,” and their flawless collections.
Because it’s true, they look incredible. But books cost a lot of money. Some collections are probably thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of books. I’m not writing this post begrudging people for spending money on books. They’re supporting authors and supporting this industry. But I am worried that it means popularity on Instagram is determined by class and wealth, which is not something I’d ever want to see in such an incredible community.
I guess what I’m saying is that we should try to be more inclusive of Bookstagrammers without hundreds of books.
Follow people who take pictures of e-books. Follow people who take photos with battered second-hand paperbacks. Follow people who post pictures of books that you may not know about. Bookstagram sometimes becomes this echo chamber where everyone’s talking about the same books and authors. Diversity occurs in so many different ways, and I think we – as a community – need to work on inclusiveness.
The bottom line is that I love Bookstagram, and I want everyone to have a place in this community.
What with the algorithm and barely seeing people’s photos anymore, it’s definitely a changing landscape, but it doesn’t have to be all bad. Bookstagram shouldn’t be defined by how many books you have.
So if you’re a Bookstagrammer who posts pictures of e-books, or paperbacks, or anything a little different to what we see a lot of, comment below with your usernames. I’m thinking it’s time for a following spree.