Five weeks ago, I decided to join the world of Bookstagram. I read a few posts about how to get started and what to expect, but mostly I’ve been figured things out on my own. Here are some of my thoughts after five weeks of activity.
I Didn’t Want a Theme–But Maybe I Have a Style
A lot of Instagram advice suggests that users stick to a theme; a theme makes your brand recognizable and allows other uses to immediately identify your work. The biggest bookstagrammers all seem to have themes. However, I personally find themes limiting. One of the things I love about photographing books is being able to create a photo inspired by an individual book. I want to design unique photos that capture a particular book’s cover colors or its themes; I don’t want to be stuck photographing every book on the same wooden floor or surrounded by the same props. I don’t want all my photos to look the same. However, I think all artists have a style even when they’re not consciously trying to make their art “match,” and this holds true for Instagram. Even just five weeks in, I can often guess which of my friends have taken which photos in my feed, even when they don’t have a dedicated theme for their accounts.
I’m All About the Photos, Not the Captions
I go through my feed quickly, and 75% of the time I do not read the captions other users have posted with their photos. There seem to be two general photo types on Bookstagram: photos of individual books and photos of multiple books all stacked up. In the first case, it’s a good guess that the user either just acquired the book and has yet to read it, or they have already read it and liked it. The captions just generally aren’t actual reviews or critiques. In the second case (photos of stacks of books), the focus of the photo is generally the appearance of the books. They’re all pink, or they’re a rainbow, or they’re a gradient. The photo isn’t about the content of the books, and neither is the caption, so I simply don’t read it. I’m not sure if this is bad Instagram practice, but it makes me assume other people don’t pay much attention to captions either, and perhaps I shouldn’t be stressing too much over writing captions.
I Don’t Know if People Are Liking Photos or Books
Since I’m still a newbie on Bookstagram, I don’t have ton of followers, and I’m probably averaging about 12 “likes” per photo. However, the number of “likes” per photo does vary a little, and the results are often surprising to me. Occasionally I take what I think is a really pretty photo (you know, if I do say so myself) that gets a mediocre “like” response, while a lower-quality or less creative photo of a better-known book gets a lot more “likes.” My data on the subject is still limited, but my impression is that the reputation or popularity of the book in the photo can somewhat trump the quality of the photo itself. (Quick, everyone, snap some pictures of Harry Potter to upload!)
Are you on Bookstagram? What do you think? Do you have a theme? Do you usually read the captions?