Do You Use Library Books for Bookstagram? (Discussion Post)

Discussion Post

I have seen a number of book bloggers lament that they feel they cannot fully participate on Instagram because they don’t own bookshelves full of the latest hardcover releases.  Some have even expressed discomfort or reluctance to use library books because it’s just not the same.  I admit that library books do present obstacles in photographs, but I use the library a lot, and library books make up at least half of my Instagram feed.

I do own a decent number of books, and I don’t want to give the false impression that I don’t.  (See below.)  However, many of these are gifts or books purchased for classes or used books from various sources.  I don’t spend hundreds of dollars on books each year, and I don’t own a lot of the latest releases.  I go to the library a couple times each month, and the library books I read are often the books I feature on Instagram.

Shelfie

Shiny Covers

Library books, of course, usually have those clear book covers to protect the jackets, and they are extremely reflective of light.  This is inconvenient if you’re using a flash or if you’re photographing in bright sunlight.  There’s also the awkward issue that sometimes the book cover reflects back your face and the image of you holding your camera.

To solve some of these issues, I try to use bright surrounding lighting and turn off the flash on my camera; the photo can always be edited later to make it a little brighter if necessary.

Stalking Jack the Ripper

I also take pictures from various angles and try to make sure my face isn’t positioned directly above the book.

The Crystal Ribbon

Sometimes, the light is difficult to deal with completely.  Since I’m not trying to cultivate a perfect Instagram feed, sometimes I just accept it.  For instance, there’s a strong glare on this image, but a lot of people still like the photograph because of the beautiful colors of the leaves.

The Reader

 

Stickers

There are only two approaches to the stickers on the spine: embrace them or attempt to hide them.  In the best-case scenario, the sticker is only on the spine and isn’t so large that it wraps around to the front cover.  In that case, if you don’t want to show the sticker, you can take photos that only show the front of the book.

Traitor to the Throne

If the sticker does extend past the spine, you can crop the photo to remove the bottom portion of the book.

Avatar The Search

However, in my personal opinion, library stickers aren’t a problem, and they don’t get in the way of the “perfect” photo.  I think you can take a photo of the book from any angle and show off the book with pride.

April Library Haul

 

What about you?  Do you routinely photograph library books for Instagram?  Do you notice when others do?  Do the stickers on the side ruin the photos for you?

Briana

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74 thoughts on “Do You Use Library Books for Bookstagram? (Discussion Post)

  1. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    I love this post! I have been wanting to try my hand at bookstagram but would have to use a lot of library books or ebook covers on a phone or tablet and wondered if there was any point to photos like that… I have to say that your post made me think that it would be okay if that was how I was obtaining my books! BTW the photos in this post look really good to me! Thanks.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I suspect there are a lot of bloggers who also use the library and ebooks more often than not. I’m hopeful that eventually there will be more than one acceptable way to do bookstagram since it’s just not true that everyone is able to purchase all the latest releases just to curate the perfect feed. Perhaps if enough people start featuring other types of photos, it will catch on!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anj @ seaweed books says:

    I COULD RELATE TO THIS POST ON A WHOLE NEW LEVEL, BRIANA. The thing is, I borrow my books from the library too. I mean, a LOT. This makes it difficult to actually take photos of the book’s cover because my local library actually sticks all of the book’s info and book number right on top of the cover, which means, I HAVE TO POSITION MY DEVICE IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE STICKERS REMAIN HIDDEN. On the rare occasions when I do buy books, (happens every 3-4 months) I proudly display the cover and have a lot more options to experiment with. ONCE AGAIN, GREAT POST, BRIANA! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Wow, that sounds so annoying! Why are all these libraries putting stickers on the front of the book? I admit it’s also annoying when they obscure the summary on the back of the book, but I’d think they’d want the front cover free since that’s what might catch a patron’s interest when they initially pull a book off the shelves.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Nina Carboni says:

    I buy most of my books and I know I’m lucky that I can, but honestly what is the issue that they are library books? I can understand the possible issues regarding the actual photos, like you mentioned about the clear covers which would probably create a glare; but for me the point of bookstagram is sharing pics of books that you have read and enjoyed enough to want to share with others. I hate that people turn it into a pissing contest. Libraries are an amazing resource and none should feel bad about taking full advantage. I want to share my love of reading with likeminded people not show off the biggest collection or the best shelves.
    I also feel this way when people say oh I read 100 books this month and some poor person feels bad because they “only” read one or two. Reading is such a personal experience and while it is nice to share I think the most important thing is that you are happy with what you’re reading and not try to hold yourself to other people’s standards.
    Sorry- I’m done ranting now. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      I think people forget that we all have different life circumstances. To read 100 books, you might need to have more leisure time than someone else. This is easier if you’re younger, if you’re not responsible for a family, if you’re at school instead of working a full-time job, etc. Imagine just having a baby, for instance. Reading time is going to go WAY down! Reading more books doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else and I’m always sad when I see people who feel like they can’t measure up to what others are doing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. iamnight says:

    This is a wonderful post! I definitely relate! I receive quite a few books from book blogging, however I still rarely buy books unless it’s a new release I really want to read. I take a lot of photos using library books with various degrees of success. The stickers for my library are usually on the back and a label on the spine so I usually just do front cover shots.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I’ve pretty much stopped buying books because I don’t have the money or the space, so nearly all of mine come from the library now. I can’t stand it when the library puts the sticker over the summary, though. I suppose that doesn’t affect taking pictures of the book, but I am still annoyed! 😉

      Like

  5. Bionic Book Worm says:

    Such a wonderful discussion! I would never look down on an Instagram photo just because the book was from the library!! Unfortunately my library thinks it’s a good idea to put stickers on both the spine AND the front cover! Yes, the front. So stupid. Then they stamp the pages when the book is closed. There’s literally no untouched space 😭

    Like

  6. Paula Vince says:

    I’m glad you highlighted this, because I use library books myself, using props to cover the stickers and make the photos look as natural as possible on Bookstagram. When scrolling through the feed, I never notice any photos from others that make me think they must be library books. It’s a good way to get more material. I’ve also taken photos of my kindle with the front cover of whichever book, from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ashley says:

    I actual like showing off that I got my books from the library, it shows that I not only use use the library, but I’m supporting it and making people aware that libraries are there and should be used. I don’t have a problem with the spine stickers showing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      That sounds like a great way to support libraries! I am always so confused when I meet someone who doesn’t know where the library is. How can you live somewhere and not know that?!

      Like

          • ashley says:

            Yes, but you said you get confused when you meet people who don’t know where the library is, maybe they don’t know because they live somewhere where there isn’t one or the library is so far away from where they live that they don’t know where it is.

            Like

            • Briana says:

              I once met someone who used to live in NYC (library branches everywhere) who moved to a smaller town (and I just mean smaller than NYC, not at all small), and for some reason she had no idea that this new town she lived in might also have a library. Or that all the surrounding towns also have libraries. :p

              Like

            • Krysta says:

              I was talking about people in my hometown who have lived here for awhile. I find it kind of odd since the library is hardly in an obscure location! Sorry for the confusion!

              Like

  8. Reading Tounwind says:

    I read a lot of Library books, but also like you have a lot of shelves at home full of books! I do take photos with my library books to use on my Instagram. I do find the lighting sometimes challenging and I love the tips you have given!! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads says:

    I’ve used library books in Instagram pictures before and although I do get annoyed with how reflective they can be, I really don’t mind if they don’t look as “nice” as brand new hardcovers or if the stickers show. I think a lot of people are hesitant to use library photos not just because of the problems in actually photographing them, but because they worry that people will only like looking at pictures of nice new hardcovers and not library books which might be a little beat up or less aesthetically pleasing. I know awhile ago there was a hashtag started to share pictures of library books or old/used books (I think it was #belovedbookproject) but I’m not sure how active that hashtag is now.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I just read an article about people finding new interest in the appearance of books because of Instagram. I wish I could remember where I saw it. What I really took out of it is that publishers are supposedly using better quality materials now. It also mentioned how the paper used to go yellow. If we are moving to non-yellowing paper I am all for this trend.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. La La in the Library says:

    I don’t use IG because Kindle doesn’t have a proper app for it, but I do take Stacking the Shelves photos for my blog and I have used library books when I have them. Using white cardboard to reflect and soften the light on a shiny cover works sometimes. As far as having newer titles, Cait from Paper Fury uses a lot of her older titles in her photos. If you are doing a themed photo or a certain color, or rainbow stack; why would you need new releases? This is a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your ideas. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      That sounds like a great idea with the white paper! I haven’t taken many book photos for the blog yet. But I was thinking I should start and try to contribute to our blog here, so that might be useful to know. ;b

      That’s true. And I imagine that if you want a rainbow you might not automatically find the right color in a newer book.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. christine @ the story salve says:

    I don’t currently have access to a library (I know, so sad) but I totally support people using library books in their photos. The book community can be very…money obsessed. I don’t have a lot of money for books, so I don’t really do bookstagram because most of my books are on kindle. These are great tips though! Thanks for sharing this!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Oh, that’s sad you don’t have access right now! I was just wondering the other day how people take photos of ebooks or audiobooks. I like to check out audiobooks from the library sometimes, but there’s not really a way to take a photo of that! And here’s…a picture of the program making squiggly lines as the audiobook plays. How artsy!

      Liked by 1 person

      • christine @ the story salve says:

        Sometimes I take photos of myself with my kindle? But it’s not really the same. Especially because my kindle is black-and-white, so there’s not a cute cover design. I’ve heard that there’s a program for photo editing where you can past the cover art from Goodreads or whatever right over where it ~would be~ on your kindle, but I’m not really savvy enough to attempt. YET!

        Like

  12. Milliebot says:

    I have a zillion books at home to read so I don’t go to my library often, but I photograph the books when I do. I don’t see anything wrong with them and actually use the same clear plastic on my hardcovers lol

    Like

  13. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    Good tips re: the shiny covers. I don’t take bookstagram photos, but lately I’ve been trying to take some more creative photos to use on my blog. However, your library books are more photogenic than mine. I would love it if I just had the spine sticker to consider, but all new books (purchased in the past five years, I’d guess) have the barcode on the front cover. That often obscures the cover too much for a nice photo, so I mostly just use older library books for photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Kai @ Quartzfeather says:

    AHH I COULDN’T HELP BUT NOTICE THAT YOU’RE READING THE AVATAR COMICS!!! How far along are you currently??? I’ve read all the ones currently out, and people have been saying that the North and South Trilogy are the last of the ATLA comics, and oh I hope not… (haha sorry about that, I’m a HUGE fan of atla).

    I don’t really use library books mostly because my library is the slowest with new releases so there’s really no point to it. Also, these days, I mostly only photographs ARCs for my review graphics and I don’t really go to the library that much anymore either.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Kai @ Quartzfeather says:

        (Haha I’m not entirely sure if you were referring to me or Briana, but anyways…) Yeah! I watched ATLA for the first time last year and after finishing it I was in such a deep show hole. The fandom’s pretty dead so I ended up turning to the comics to fill the hold Avatar left (sorry this sounds so dramatic). I’d definitely recommend reading them, though Katara’s character isn’t handled very well in the first few comics *cringe*. But yeah, Zuko’s mom’s backstory is really cool!

        Like

    • Briana says:

      I’ve read most of the ones that are currently out, but not all, I think. Sometimes I actually find it a little confusing to keep track of them.

      Like

  15. The Hermit Librarian says:

    I don’t take a whole lot of book related pictures, but when I do it doesn’t matter to me whether or not the books are library books or not. I do see the problem with the plastic cover (shiny!) but you pointed out some good ways around that. ☺

    Like

  16. Melinda says:

    I’m so new to Bookstagram (it’s my second account, I couldn’t get my first username back) and I’m still trying to get into it. Thanks for these tips!

    Like

  17. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    All the love for this post! And anything that supports use of library books of course 😉 I think this is so wonderful. I am happy to see some tips and encouragement for bloggers who use are have thought about using library books on Instagram. I have not (yet) but my account currently leaves much to be desired. Thank you for this ❤

    Like

  18. Nandini Bharadwaj says:

    “I have seen a number of book bloggers lament that they feel they cannot fully participate on Instagram because they don’t own bookshelves full of the latest hardcover releases.” This line definitely describes me. I’m pretty sure having a Bookstagram account will make my blog more visible, but it’s another social media account to keep up with and mostly I just get eBooks because I don’t have a good library nearby nor have the money to spend on physical books. This is why I’m terrified of having an Instagram account. Also, my photography skills aren’t that great, so I just don’t have the time to edit whatever I do take and make them look beautiful for Instagram.
    That said, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be so hesitant if I had a well-stocked library. I’d probably would’ve started Bookstagram long ago because it feels like such a vibrant community to be a part of. Also, supporting libraries is important, so I’d definitely give photographing library books a shot if I could. But until then, I’ll probably stick to not being on Instagram.

    Like

    • Briana says:

      Well, I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten exactly zero traffic coming from Instagram to the our blog, though I’m not one of the most popular users and in fact haven’t been able to post in awhile. But my impression is that, while it can get your name out there, it tends to be a separate community and is not a huge traffic driver to most people’s actual blog. I also was worried about my photography skills when I started, but I came to realize that while there are definitely doing impressive things I can’t (even if that’s just taking pictures of rainbow books–because I don’t have that many!), I think there are also many people whose photos are much worse than mine who have tons of followers (no offense to anyone and not naming names!). I’d go for it if you have an actual interest in getting into photography, but I don’t think it’s a must-have platform, really. There are also a lot of people taking really cool pictures of their e-readers with the book covers displayed.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. delphinespublications says:

    Likewise, library books have hindered my bookstagram. Especially by the constant presence of the annoying book jacket. I mean, yes these flimsy, noisy, plastic covers are supposed to protect the books from damage of the many library-users but I find them super, and sadly inconvenient for those of us who love to photograph what we read. I love photographing the books I’m reading not simply for a cool new post, but just to have that memory, that instantaneous reproducibility of a moment spent with a book.

    Like

  20. Tavleen (Travelling Through Words) says:

    Hi! I’m a very active Bookstagram. I have a very small book collection which I love and I don’t mind showing it off in my pictures! I visit the library whenever I can and I always take pictures of those books so it’s not at all an issue for me.

    Like

  21. belleofbooktopia says:

    I had no idea there was a library book stigma on bookstagram… you learn something new everyday I guess!
    I know I’m just echoing what has been said in previous comments, but I say be a loud and proud library advocate! They do so much good for the communities they serve and deserve our patronage 🙂

    Like

    • Briana says:

      I’ve definitely seen multiple people say they feel they can’t join or be successful on Instagram because they read library books! It’s really great that all the people who commented on this post support the library and don’t see it as too much of a problem to photograph the books (though, yeah, I can understand if some old paperbacks aren’t overly photogenic).

      Like

  22. Katy says:

    Awesome post! It feels lovely to see some bookstagrammers have the same problems. I don’t really have a problem showing the barcode, and hope that if people saw it knew that it was a library book or tag. But sometimes it can be an annoyance when you’re trying to do a nice set-up and a big barcode is in the way. Thanks for the great tips on cropping and lighting! I hope more bookstammgers earn the confidence to show off our book hauls. 🙂

    Like

  23. Arya D. says:

    I have posted some pictures of the books I check out however my library puts the barcode on the front cover most of the time and ruin the overall cover image it kills me inside.

    Like

  24. Lacey's Library says:

    Love this post!! I’m a librarian who just started a bookstagram and my bookshelf at home is not full AT ALL! The books I feature are pretty much all library books! I agree completely that it’s super annoying when trying to take pictures and there’s stickers on the sides, but like you said, take pride! No matter what the pictures will turn out great 👍🏻

    Like

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