Discussion: Is Bookstagram Really Just Looks Over Substance?

Let’s chat.

I find that recently there have been a lot of hot takes on the bookstagram community, mostly from people who aren’t part of the community and feel like they should have an opinion on everything. There’s one from the Vulture (a really long, overtly flowery piece that has no substance) and one from the Guardian (that tries too damn hard to be witty) and it seems that people are once again bothered by how other people consume books. Go figure. And not only are they bothered, but they also write articles about how bothered they are.

Sidenote: if you want to start a Bookstagram I have not one, but two posts on how to do it (can be located HERE and HERE).

So this begs the question, are we putting too much on quantity instead of quality when it comes to bookstagram? Is the community so materialistic that it shuns people who don’t have enough books, Funko pops, bookish candles etc.?

The simple and short answers is: I don’t think so. 

I have never found a community of people so dedicated to books and generally, so excited about books, as I did on bookstagram. When I first joined bookstagram, I did it because I liked books. It’s as simple as that. And I discovered that there’s a huge community that loves books just as much as I do. And people talk books all day every day. Yes, they might showcase their stacks of books or they might put a pretty cover on their feed, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t reading. And there are constant conversations about books on bookstagram, all day long.

People seem to think that if you make a really extravagant flat lay that you are simply doing too much and that it somehow takes away from the content of the book. But that’s just not true. Yes, it is about aesthetics, because the platform necessitates it (like, it’s a platform for images, Karen), but it doesn’t mean that people are somehow ignoring the contents of the books. Moreover, there are fantastic discussions on bookstagram about really important topics, like diversity in literature. To say that this community is only about looks is to ignore the fundamentals of it – and that’s love of books.

But is it too much? Is it too elaborate? 

People see these huge flat lays that are so intricate, with people using books to make chairs, or towers or wings or whatever. I personally don’t do that because I don’t have the time or the energy, but most importantly I am just not talented enough for that. But guess what – that’s okay. These people are. They use their love of books to do new and exciting things. Just check out the really big bookstagram names and you’ll see that those people are really talented. They have gorgeous images and those images happen to have books in them. Why is that a problem?

But you need to spend a lot of money on books and props. Right? 

Wrong. I don’t think that in order to be a part of the community you have to have a lot of books. I’ve seen gorgeous accounts which feature predominantly library books or just a couple of the same books. There are accounts who are big and have zero props in their images. And they are still talking about books and sparking conversations and just like, having fun, people. It’s not that deep.

When I first started bookstagram, I was really intimidated by those people and I kept thinking that I could never achieve the things they were doing. And that’s true. I can’t. But just because someone does something differently than you, doesn’t mean that you have to go and write a whole article about it. Sheesh.

It’s too saturated with merch and fandom. 

It is. And whether or not you like that is entirely a personal preference. I personally love it and would buy all the bookmarks and candles in this world. Every single one. And do I get sad that I can’t? Yes. But I also get sad when I can’t have a castle. Are people trying to sell me stuff? Yes. There’s no way around that. People are trying to sell me stuff ALL THE TIME. I would however much prefer to be convinced of buying books or merch by small, independent artists and business than to be convinced to buy something from Amazon.

So is Bookstagram a marketing tool? 

Of course it is. In that sense, it is really materialistic. But that’s a byproduct of our time and the capitalist society we live in. And of all the things to advertise and promote, I think helping books and small businesses succeed is the least of our worries.

So those are my thoughts on bookstagram and it annoying some fancy journalists. Do you have any thoughts on the topic? I would love to hear from you!


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20 thoughts on “Discussion: Is Bookstagram Really Just Looks Over Substance?

  1. I love your thoughts on Bookstagram and I agree with all of them. I think Bookstagram – just like practically anything else – is what you make of it. You can find so many levels of posters in that community that there are surely hundreds that will have “normal” feeds just like you (and me!) And just because I take a picture of a book surrounded by roses and glitter doesn’t mean that first I didn’t sit down with it on my comfy couch and travel someplace with its author and several thousand other fans! People will always criticize what others seem to love. That may just be a sign that Bookstagrammers are doing something good!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would honestly rather see just pictures of books arranged in a creative way with a bookmark or two than all the props and extra stuff. Sometimes all the props take away from the book/books which should be the focal point.


      1. Yea…I think I’m taking an extended hiatus. I’ve been semi hiatus for a long while on my bookstagram, simply because I just lost the drive to do it. I want to get back to focusing more on my blog posts and reading, but maybe I’ll start back up in the new year 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I personally don’t ‘get’ bookstagram – like, you’ve seen one picture of books, you’ve seen ’em all, as far as I’m concerned. And I really don’t have the patience to put together that amount of images. So, yeah, I find the whole thing kinda boring, but I’m sure there are people who find stuff I like to be kinda boring, y’know?

    And I will openly admit that I’m not a fan of presenting yourself in a way that isn’t genuine. But that happens EVERYWHERE on the Internet – it’s just that the visual aspect of Instagram sometimes makes it more obvious.

    I have no issue with people liking bookstagram – and I wouldn’t write a pretentious article against it, just because I personally don’t get the appeal. (I might write about how/why I don’t get the appeal of it, but hopefully would make clear that it’s a personal thing, and dudes, you do you!)

    I think the attitude of these articles is… weird. Honestly. Like, why do you care so much?! If you don’t like bookstagram then fine! Don’t like bookstagram! Simple as.<3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was exactly my point – why would you write a whole article about it. And I absolutely understand your view point, and I definitely agree that Instagram promotes a bit disingenuous presentation, but like you said, it’s a problem of the Internet as a whole! Thanks so much for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I started a bookstagram account about a year ago, and post maybe once a week. Because I don’t post as often as other bigger accounts, I find my following has grown stagnant. I know if I want to increase my following, I have to increase the frequency of posting, but with a full time job (and an apartment with bad lighting) where does one find the time!? 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I get it! And with the new algorithms, it’s getting so hard to grow and do much, so it gets so discouraging. But I just decided to start ignoring the numbers and just enjoy it. And juggling bookstagram or blogging with life is soo hard. I have a couple of posts on advice for stuff like that, but I still haven’t managed to do it well 🤷🏻‍♀️😅


  5. I’m so glad you took this stance! I fully admit that bookstagram has made me slightly more materialistic in that I will choose the edition of a book which I personally find to be the most aesthetically pleasing, but those books are always ones that I’m interested in reading anyway – and I do read them and share my thoughts on them!

    Like you say, it’s a visual platform. Those articles were just stirring up bad feeling and, as others have commented, if you don’t like bookstagram just stay away!

    Liked by 1 person

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