8 Things I've Learned About Bookstagram

(What is bookstagram, you ask? It's where you take pretty pictures of books and post them on Instagram. Bit of a weird hobby, I know, but maybe I can convince you that it's often worth it 😉)

I've been bookstagramming for a little over two months now, and I just reached 1,000 followers (check out this post to see how I got started). Even though two months isn't very long, it's taught me a lot about how to succeed on this platform -- and have a blast doing it! So without further ado, here are the eight most important things I've learned from bookstagramming thus far.

1. It's super fun!

I never realized how much I like taking photos and coordinating patterns until I started my account. Now, I look forward to relaxing afternoons when I can set up my books and my props and take a bunch of pictures!

2. Props/backgrounds don't have to be expensive

Chances are, there's a ton of stuff around your house you can use as props! I use the potpourri from the sideboard all the time in my pictures, and I made origami butterflies out of paper I already had. Other things I've used are fountain pens, decks of cards, tea lights, Scrabble letter tiles, jewelry, my violin, and even a pair of Converse shoes. The only limit is your imagination!

As for the stuff I bought specifically for bookstagramming, I got a white poster board background for a dollar at Walmart. I also use a lot of fake flowers, which I spent maybe $5 on. Oh yeah, and I also bought some cheap candles. In total, I've spent about $10 on props -- but really, you don't have to spend anything.

3. And books don't have to be expensive either!

I wrote a post about this last month, but there are a ton of great places to get books on the cheap. You can also borrow books from the library and take pictures of those (as long as those reflections on the plastic cover don't bother you too much). If you have friends who have a lot of books, ask if you can borrow some. Finally, you can take pictures of blank Kindles or phones and edit book covers onto them -- Cait @paperfury has a great tutorial on how to do this.

A little digital trickery goes a long way!

4. Natural light rules!

When I first started my account, I read all these articles about photography that said you should use natural light ... and I ignored them. My bedroom doesn't have a whole lot of natural light -- and besides, I sometimes wanted to take pictures at night cause I was impatient and couldn't wait till morning.

And then I took a photo in the daylight, and it was SO MUCH BETTER. No weird reflections, much less graininess, way easier to adjust the filters. Now, I only ever take pictures in the daytime next to a large window.

5. You don't need a fancy camera

Sure, there are some bookstagrammers who use fancy DSLR cameras, but my iPhone camera works fine for me. Besides, most people will be viewing your pictures on their phones anyway -- it's not like you're blowing your photos up to print onto a giant canvas.

6. Themes are great, but you may have to change them -- and that's okay!

I always knew I wanted to alternate light and dark photos on my account to make a checkerboard pattern, but when I first started, the result was this:

Gross lighting and stock photos

Nowadays, my account looks like this:

Natural light and all-original photography!

It's okay to experiment with your theme, or even have no theme at all -- just so long as you're having fun! (though feeds that have a theme tend to get more likes/followers.)

7. If you thought your TBR stack was big already, just you wait ...

I've gotten a ridiculous number of book recommendations from fellow bookstagrammers. I gotta say, though, it's refreshing to get recommendations from people you know, rather than having to rely on Amazon reviews.

8. It makes sense for an author career!

I started my bookstagram for fun, but I recently realized just what a good move it was for my career. I don't have any published books (anymore), but when I do, I'll have a whole load of bookish friends (1,000 and counting!) to help spread the word! That kind of platform is priceless for a debut author.

That's not to say that every writer in every genre would benefit from starting a bookstagram (from what I can tell, YA/crossover bookstagrammers have the most success) -- and of course, if you hate Instagram, you're not going to have any fun doing it. But if you like discussing books and taking photos, and you have the time and energy to invest in making an awesome bookstagram, it could be well worth your while.

What's your opinion on bookstagramming? And if you have a bookstagram, drop your handle in the comments so I can follow you!


  1. I got an instagram account for my craft stuff, but then discovered that it wasn't really for me (mainly because the app doesn't seem to work with on my computer). I've still kept it though to keep up to date with friends that do use instagram (congrats, you've got another follower!)
    I mainly use Tumblr now. There's quite a few book-lovers/reviewers on there as well if you're interested. :)

    Clare P.

    1. Yeah, Instagram's full set of features only works on the mobile app, so it sounds like Tumblr was a much better choice for you. Thanks for the follow, buddy! :D