Bookstagram and Its Problems

For all that is going right, let's see what is going wrong in the book community.
Profile picture of tiffanymurnaghan

Created by tiffanymurnaghan

Published on May 20, 2024
book pages in the shape of a heart
Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

Bookstagram and its Problems

If you are a big book lover and you use Instagram (IG) regularly like me, you might have heard of the term ‘Bookstagram’. It’s a hashtag used to encompass the content of the bookish side of the app. It’s a huge thing – at the time I wrote this article, there were 99.6 million posts that fell under this tag. Readers and writers make up this community, sharing their books, leaving reviews, giving out recommendations and showing off their own little personal libraries. People are usually very nice and cordial as well, and I’ve had a lot of good experiences with Bookstagram.

But of course, nothing is perfect. I have become well-acquainted with this community by actively participating in it for the past few years, and over those years I’ve learned that there are certain characteristics that I’m not fond of.

Lack of engagement

You’d think a social media platform would be a useful tool to connect to people who have similar interests, especially if that platform had tags for particular subjects. And yet, I hardly get likes or comments from people who don’t already follow me. 

The same can be applied to the new sister app, Threads. Bookthreads, in comparison, is better because whenever I first downloaded, all the content that was appearing on my feed was book-related only. Amongst the threads that were popping up, I saw people calling for fellow readers to follow and such, and their attempts at shouting into the void had reached me! However, I should have taken that as my warning. 

I’ve started to post on Threads, and I’m barely getting any attention. I’m scraping in a handful of likes, no double figures. Sometimes, it takes days to get the notification that someone has left a like. Sometimes, I get no likes at all despite the decent number of followers I have. I find myself even deleting posts because they feel pointless. 

Okay, I am new to the app, I shouldn’t expect to get a sweep of engagement right away. Although, the evidence was right in front of my face, telling me that there was a problem. Users had to repost to reach out again. Users were complaining that they were losing followers on IG, and that the only posts that were gaining traction were their memes – everything else they put time and effort into was starting to feel like a waste.

Aesthetics and Trends

In the modern digital world, what you put out there for others to see must be absolutely beautiful. Your photos must give the illusion that they were taken by a pro photographer. They should look like stills from a Hollywood movie. That’s the impression I get anyway every time I log onto Instagram.

There are various Bookstagram accounts that have blown me away by how picturesque they are. Scrolling down their posts, I have wondered to myself how long did it take to get that certain angle on that page, how on earth did they get their duvet to match with the cover of the book; how much editing did they have to do? 

I try my best to make my photos look at least okay, and while I’m taking them, I’m constantly moving stuff around. It’s embarrassing to admit. Maybe it’s just my nitpicky brain. However, I would not be able to bring myself to attempt the type of quality I view daily. Realistically, I don’t have an extra moment to spare for that nonsense.

There’s another phenomenon that occurs. Occasionally, when a new novel comes out, it will immediately make the rounds on Bookstagram. Now, I don’t know much about BookTok because I don’t have TikTok, but I have a feeling that’s where the popularity of some novels originates. The newer, the better appears to apply here. Many people jump on the bandwagon to buy this certain book because it’s the hottest topic, and it might gain them more hearts than usual.

I’m not saying if you have an aesthetically pleasing book account, or if you take part in trends, you’re a bad person. I’m sure there are Bookstagrammers reading a newly released novel for the sake of their own interest. The point is some people feel forced to do these things to fit in, ultimately making their Bookstagram experience taxing and unenjoyable.

Conclusion

I don’t believe these issues lie entirely with the community. More generally, they are issues that revolve around Instagram, its internet culture, and its algorithm.

Perhaps it’s the size of the community. With each passing year it grows and grows, and once you post your content, it will be washed away by a sea of even newer posts which are being published by the minute. There’s nothing to be done about this factor. I certainly wouldn’t want to begin ‘gatekeeping’ Bookstagram, that’s ridiculous. 

The best solution I can offer is to be more active. Reach out to others as much as you can and just genuinely talk to your fellow bookworms. For the writers who want to promote their own books and build up an audience, this is crucial. Overcome the obstacles that social media places in front of you and create your own network. 

More for you