Saturday, 1 October 2016


Some of you may have heard the term #bookstagram floating around Instagram or blogger and wondered what what on earth people were barking about. 

Well, let me tell you all about and how you can join the cool world that bookstagrammers operate on. 

But first, you should follow my bookstagram HERE for a physical example of a #bookstagram account and because new people excite me. 


#bookstagram stands for Instagram for books

First, you'll want to sign up on Instagram so you can make an account. Kinda obvious. 

Generally, people like to use Instagram to post about their animal companion, what they ate for dinner, their favourite jumper or a selfie that doesn't bring them to tears after five seconds. Bookstagrammers like to do those things too except our books take centre stage.
  • username - something that reflects what you want your account to be about, for example, if your name is Tara and you want to post book reviews: 'tarareads' does a sweet job. If it's already taken, get creative. Keep it short and snappy so you're not an unnecessary pain in the ass to look up or tag. 
  • if you have a blog or are planning to make one, make sure to match your username with your blog so it's easy to find you. 
  • link to blog  - you only get one link so this is a perfect place to promote your personal blog, business profile or website. if you have a blog or are planning to make one, make sure to match your username with your blog so it's easy to find you. 
  • write a bio - this will be one of the hardest moments in your life. And it will change over time (you have been warned!). My bio over at @pardonmywritings has evolved from 'Writing. Reading. Dreaming'. To this day, i have no idea what I'm dreaming about.

You're now ready to take lots and lots of pictures of books! But with what? Professional camera or smartphone? decisions. decisions. 

You shouldn't feel like you have to invest gazillions of money into buying a new camera just to take beautiful photos. We people at #bookstagram don't want to bankrupt you, being poor because you buy too many books is only justified.

I personally use an iPhone 6s and the photos come out sharp and bright (with a bit of editing magic... more on that later).



Even though I've upgraded from a 4s and left a life of slightly grainy photos if you look really closely, I have flirted with the idea of buying a professional camera. 

Things that have stopped me:
  1. i know nothing about cameras - uploading photos from them, editing them, posting them on instagram
  2. the thought of learning to use a new device scares me
  3. their prices are enough to make any student cry 
My advice is use what you're comfortable with. Just make sure your photos aren't grainy. Grainy photos don't get likes.

This is my favourite part about #bookstagram and also the most stressful. You can style your photos in so many different ways using PROPS. I'm going to give a basic run down of popular ways photos are styled because ideally, you won't know your #bookstagram's theme or aesthetic until you've done some playing around.

props = living or non living objects used around a book to make it more aesthetically pleasing
(I totally made up that definition but who's judging).
  • flowers/potted plants - these are best for framing a corner of your photo or adding a bit of colour. I buy fresh ones weekly for the purpose of #bookstagram and use them till they're withered. 
  • candles - there are so many candle companies out there selling beautifully inspired literary candles and they're all so beautiful but SO EXPENSIVE. buy one. cherish it.
  • cups and mugs of tea and okay, fine and coffee - pretty straightforward. people need to know you're still human and need to quench your throat during a #bookstagram shoot. we can't be awesome all the time.
  • maps - everyone loves them. Maps make a great background so I definitely recommend buying one of your favourite country or printing out an ancient world map.
  • FOOD (best prop ever!) - hungry people brings in likes.
  • white background - think of this an empty white slate waiting for you to decorate it with books and props... or stare at it for hours in despair. 
  • old things - all those times you laughed at you nan's old fashioned necklace? or your mum's trinkets? You need to steal them when creating an antique look in your photo.
  • arts & craft - when all else fails, BRING IN THE STATIONARY REGIMENT. I'm talking fancy diaries, chipped paintbrushes, half-chews pencils, scribbles in your notebook and fine stall pens. 

Everyone on #bookstagram is obsessed with a "theme" - sticking to one, worrying when they've 'ignored their theme', boycotting all themes. A theme is an overall look of someone's account. You don't need a theme at all but I have found, you receive more followers if your feed is consistent. Just find something that suits YOU.
  • simple look - these themes contain minimal props, sometimes none at all,  and the main focus is the book, posed in various angles
  • a busy feast for the eyes - these accounts put SO many beautifully styled props in their photos however scrolling down their feed makes my eyes cross over. just me? ok. 
  • outside photos - all you people who spend 90% of your day outdoors, this one is for you.
HOWEVER (and this is a big however, guys), if you have worked hard on a consistent theme of cluttered flatlays but you're soaking the sun in your park or your dress is cute or your book's cover wonderfully matches a bush and you want to capture that memory, GO FOR IT. POST IT ON INSTAGRAM. It bugs me that people worry about themes so much but alas, that's a rant for another day...

The time has finally come to photography whatever you have displayed in front of you.

Most flatlays are best taken from a birds-eye-position, especially if there's a lot of props.

You can angle your book, your phone or your body (no one is watching) for a different kind of photo. Angled photos are great if you want the focus on a book's fascinating red page edges or its embroidered spine or on smaller objects around the book. 

Another #bookstagram word is "natural lighting". To achieve this: plan your photos the day before (i.e. get props ready prior to photoshoot day), take photos in the morning and not after 5pm (shadows are pesky things to edit later) or take a bunch of different photos over the weekend if you live the 9-5 work day life. 

I try to capture a photo that I'm most satisfied with, which often leads to thirty five different versions. But this way, I have less editing to do because I'm lazy and life is short. 

My go-to filter is Instagram's Clarendon to give a fresh, sharp and white look. But i apply that after I've enhanced my photo on the Photoshop app. And that's it.

Some people filter more. Some don't filter at all. Have you got the idea yet? Do what you want. 

Hashtags will become your loyal friend once you're on #bookstagram because it's what gets new followers. People occasionally scroll through hashtags with hundred of thousands of related photos. You want to be in that feed!

These are the main hashtags which I just copy and paste in my comments section (Instagram allows up to 30 I believe): 

#literature #reading #book #books #bookish #booklover #bookworm #bibliophile #bookstagram #vscobooks #igreads #bookphotography #instabook #goodreads #blogger #currentlyreading #iphonephotography #booknerdigans #becauseofreading #amreading #alwaysreading #bookgram #penguinstagram #bookstagramfeature #classic

I then usually add a few more depending on the featured book's title or author. 

Please don't use popular #bookstagram hashtags if you're posting your outfit of the day or yesterday's lunch...unless you show me a book. 

And that's it folks! You're on your way to becoming as addicted to #bookstagram as I am. You're most welcome. No, I don't value that you may have a life outside of books. BOOKS ARE LIFE.

*** Do you have a #bookstagram account? Leave a link to your account so I can check them out! What tips can you share for people who are new to this? ***


  1. Great content! I love your humour

  2. this was great. I just started bookstagram the other day @_queenofthebooks_

  3. Thank you for this! I have been dipping my toe into bookstagram recently: @Chrikaru