It’s Personal Saturdays with Kelly & Christy: Bookstagram – It’s Complicated – Part 2
It’s Personal is a semi monthly Saturday feature, where we chat about our opinions on bookish and non bookish topics. Today we are continuing our conversation from our previous It’s Personal post about the complicated relationship we have with bookstagram as book influencers. Please read that post first, if you haven’t yet. We had great feedback and it launched a lot more discussions online and made us look into these very interesting feelings more.
Today will be conversing more about our bookstagram experiences, and we are happy to bring another person into our discussion today. Please welcome Sarah from The YA Book Traveler! You can find Sarah on her blog, twitter, or instagram! And just in case you are new to our blog, you can also follow Christy and Kelly on instagram.
Last week we delved into our feelings when it comes to bookstagram self worth, inherent classism, and the emotional consequences of the community. Today we are going to talk a bit more about the loss of community & love of books, in exchange for likes and follows. As well as what we wish we saw more of on our feeds.
Loss of Community
Bookstagram was different before the dreaded algorithm. Or should I say it was different before FB bought the platform. Now of course some improvements have been awesome, and some are just weird, and others aren’t helpful at all. One of the biggest changes was of course the feed. It used to be chronological, and the app would remember what you had seen, so if you didn’t open it in 3 days, your feed started up right where you left off. It was quite brilliant, and you barely missed a thing.
Now the algorithm shows you whatever the hell it wants, and it feels like it is never what you actually want to see…pretty books! There are ways to improve your feed, mostly by engaging in the users timelines that you enjoy. Leaving likes and comments all make a huge difference for what you see daily on your scroll. Watching the stories of those accounts also put them in your feed more frequently. Hence all the fun templates that go around, because if you are not using your stories, your feed and your post views will suffer.
Of course before bookstagram took off like gangbusters, the book community was focused on twitter and facebook. I used to chat so much more on twitter before I became obsessed with insta. Facebook was less of a conversation and more of a place to see what authors were up to. Then of course fb changed too, and implemented the algorithm and most authors jumped back into twitter. Of course there are issues with all social media, people think they are safe to be jerks on any public forum…so yeah that’s a different topic.
I just want a community that talks and loves books. I want to see diversity in my feeds, and I want to see more BOOKS as the main feature of photos!!
Twitter is where I found and fell in love with the book community. My life was turned upside down in the fall of 2011 and books became my safe haven. This is where I found people like me who loved and breathed books. I could mention an author in a Tweet and they would respond to me, I was blown away! Twitter had my whole heart.
The last few years has been a major shift in the community because so many people moved to Instagram. Which is TOTALLY fine and many people have found their community there…but I feel it’s been much harder for me to navigate and truly build a community. Twitter is a much easier place for this in my opinion. It’s easy to write a few words, join in conversations, join chats, etc. Instagram makes discussions honestly so difficult. DM groups are there but even those feel limited.
Plus, for me, Instagram now feels repetitive and a bit fake. When Bookstagram first started it was super exciting! I had a few friends who started taking photos of books and I was like “YES GIVE ME MORE!”. It was before book candles, and merch, and fanart, so it was all we had and I loved it. But all I see nowadays are photos of the same 4 book series over and over and over. And for what? Likes? That sucks. When did we get to a point in our book-love that we reduce ourselves to likes and forget to celebrate the books and authors?
Now don’t get me wrong, I know the drive to succeed and build a name for yourself in the community. Over the last 5 years or so I built a fairly large following on Twitter. It took years, lots of connecting, giveaways, and work, but honestly…it’s ALWAYS been about the people. I have the most precious friends, from all around the world, and I would never give them up. How can I possibly connect in these ways through random scrolls in my feed looking at the same 5 books over and over again? I can’t. So, I feel a little lost.
What We Wish We Saw
Look, I want to say more on a photo than “ooo this is so pretty”. I didn’t join this community to reinvent the “Hot or Not” days. I miss the days of Twitter chats and seeing genuine conversation happening. I also wish we saw more variety, rather than posting the books that get the most likes.
I live for my DM groups (shout out to all my friends <3) and wish we had a more conducive space to discuss publicly. There are so many rich conversations happening behind the scenes! But since we only have photos, I’d love to see more:
- Midlist Authors – 90% of the books I adore are written by midlist authors. The authors whose books often win awards and have rampant fan bases…but don’t get 50 editions or constant coverage on bookstagram. Let’s give these authors more love because they’re the ones who could be the next bestseller with the right push.
- Indie Published – When the shift away from blogging happened, we lost the love for indies that we had. Many indies only get paperback (or ebook!) editions so they don’t fit in the bookstagram hardcover scene. The romance community is killing it featuring indies. We could learn from them.
- Paperback – Ok but have you seen people from the UK who have tons of UK editions? THE UNIFORMITY. I want to see paperback books given some love. Paperbacks are an affordable option for many. Plus they’re easier to carry.
- Library Book Love – Anyone else bring library books for show-and-tell like me? No? Well let’s show and tell them on bookstagram. Think about how much your local library will feel loved by tagging them (instead of a publisher who likely won’t even notice).
- Ebooks (and Audiobooks!) – I KNOW the pain of trying to photograph a screen with clarity. I’m saying let’s not say physical is more important than digital with our actions. Toss up a digital book or TBR.
- Natural posts/less “staged” – Do your books just always hang out with fake baby’s breath and random daggers? No, they’re hanging out on your shelves or in your lap or maybe they’re piled somewhere random in your house (I FEEL SEEN). Let’s see those photos. I’m not lounging in bed in my thigh-highs surrounded by props and food while also trying to read a book – I like my books too much to subject them to the possibility of a spill or grease.
Accounts We Love!
Of course there are many amazing bookstagram accounts but we wanted to shout out some…
- Big accounts can still be amazing and Hikari’s has genuine engagement and doesn’t feel forced so you should follow – @foldedpagesdistillery
- Bringing you diverse books, opinions, and stunning photos – you should absolutely be following Carmen at @yawednesdays
- Want to see more great ebooks and romance in your feed – check out Kim’s account – @kimberlyfayereads
- Extremely creative cover love recreations that are stunning so you should be following Meredith- @fromlibrarywithlove
- Real life stories, mom life, advice, chatting, plus the most gorgeous library & feed – @bookrockbetty
- Minimalism where books are the main focus, and an engaged member of the book community, you should follow Michelle – @bookchelle
- Another beautiful feed focused on clear photos of books – check out Jordan’s account @pagetravels
We heard from a lot of our readers after our last post, so we knew we had to return to the topic, and I feel like we aren’t even done yet. Let us know how you feel or if you connected with our thoughts. Of course this is all just our opinion, and who are we…but we know people out there are so discouraged with where the community has gone, and we want to bring back the focus on books. It’s what we love, it’s why we are here, and it’s what we want to see more of, so let’s continue to build up a community of book readers, and book lovers again.
Thank you so much for mentioning me!! Y’all are the best! ☺️
You deserve all the recognition! We all love your feed!
I love what y’all have to say. This statement really resonates for me “When did we get to a point in our book-love that we reduce ourselves to likes and forget to celebrate the books and authors?”
As someone who works with midlist authors, it can be really hard at times to keep the focus on the books and the fans–not vanity metrics (such as the number of followers, likes, or comments).
It’s so wonderful to hear that these kinds of conversations are happening behind the scenes and I hope more of them will move out in to the open.
I’m hopeful we can find a way to strike a balance in the community between showcasing the beauty of the books and creating real, authentic conversation. Not sure how we get there, but I think conversations like this are a great start!
Also–FAB list of bookstagrammer! 🙂
We’ve talked about how eliminating ARCs might help with all of this…There’s so much competition and we are better than this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us – It’s good to know we aren’t alone in the world.
I agree with this so much! I find it so hard to build after the algorithm changed combined with the fact I don’t want to only show off the big new releases. I was already a bit of a niche blogger since I feature so much Canadian content (and most of my readers are US or UK) but now I feel like a niche Instagram influencer too. But I love it, I talk to people on my feed when I can, and I’ll stick with it. But Twitter and my blog is my true home.
I agree, we lost our love for indie books with the rise of bookstagram. I would love to see the return of “authentic” bookstagram, but I feel that publishers, merch vendors, and sub boxes have made it all by impossible.
I agree with everything said. I love that you are talking about this and sharing with us how you feel about it.
I struggle with Insta because I don’t feel like I’ve found my place there. I need to work on interacting more (though it’s much easier for me to quick respond to something on twitter than insta.)
I’m not in any DM groups (other than a group read), so there’s that feeling of being left out (this is on me, not aimed at anyone and I don’t mean it in a whoa is me way either. =) ) I’m not trying to build a following, I’m just there because so many others are that I like and I like to see their pics.
I don’t feel like we can get into any in-depth conversations on insta.
I don’t post a lot of pics because it takes time and I never know what to say.
(ugh, so much negative stuff about insta, sorry!)
I want to get better perhaps quickly posting a pic of a book I just read and really liked, maybe aiming for at least 1x or 2x a week – and incorporate that a majority of the books I read (listen to) are from the library.
I love your signed book Sunday challenge and I have always tried to post pics of lesser known authors =)
I want to see things change for the better and I hope that I can somehow be a part of it, no matter how tiny of a part I play!