The creative and cultural industries are so far reaching and imbue so many sectors in the professional world and our social lives that sometimes it’s easy to forget how many aspects of our world can be identified as CCIs. I realized this the other day when I decided to pursue a passion project I’d been mulling over for a long time.
Bookstagram is a little pocket of Instagram created by book lovers and dedicated to all things books. There are tons of gorgeous accounts filled with aesthetic book photos and filled with captions of book reviews, recommendations, and discussions. As a total book nerd, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found this little slice of heaven earlier. What surprised me even more was that I had many friends with Bookstagram accounts that I never knew existed.
Yuki Klotz-Burwell(‘19) majored in Public Relations and Advertising and minored in Broadcast Journalism during her time at Chapman. After writing book reviews for a website and stumbling across bookstagrams while looking for content photos, she decided to start her own account in October of 2018.
“I wanted to connect with other people who were also interested in books, who wanted to share their opinions, find new books, stuff like that,” Klotz-Burwell said.
Not only has this been a fulfilling hobby, but Klotz-Burwell has also been able to get some success out of her side-hustle. She currently has over 12,000 followers and has partnerships with publishers who send her gifted books to feature on the account. She revealed that the best way to get followers is just to post consistently and engage with other accounts. As for getting free books she recommended not being afraid to contact publishers.
“I think the biggest thing is just reaching out and showing you’re interested in what the publisher has,” Klotz-Burwell said.
While that’s definitely the level I aspire to be at, after deciding to start my own account, I realized what a demanding hobby it can be. Not only do you have to keep up with your reading, but take great photos, think of captions and hashtags, and comment on others’ posts. I asked Klotz-Burwell how she keeps up.
“I think the main thing I realized after I graduated and now that I’m working full time is that I actually really like it and that’s why it’s easiest for me to manage, because I feel passionate about what I’m posting… It definitely is a balancing game, but I find that if you’re interested in it, it doesn’t feel like a chore or job it just feels like something I like.”
Klotz-Burwell said that one of her favorite things about Bookstagram is the community.
“I don’t have a lot of friends in real life who are as obsessed with books as I am so it’s good to be able to actually talk to people about the books that I’m enjoying and just anything book related like authors or what publishers are doing or stuff like that. When the Black Lives Matter movement started getting super popular again in the past few months there were a lot of calls to action with publishers to include more influencers of color and stuff like that so it was really cool to see the community rallying around that,” she said.
I’ve already realized that as well. From my very first post, I had people welcoming me to the community and asking me about my book opinions. People are genuinely excited to be on the platform and share their passions. While I love giving book recommendations to my friends, it’s not often that I get ones in return, so it’s been wonderful finding people interested in the same genres that can give me new recommendations and geek out together over the books we all love.
Natalie Snyder(‘20) said that her bookstagram was a great way for her to do something meaningful related to her Creative Writing major and future goals. She also got a shout-out on one of her posts, which she said always feels great.
“My favorite thing about it is receiving positive comments and feedback on my posts! For example, a book I really enjoyed, called The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor, got a comment from the author Jillian Cantor thanking me for the review,” Snyder said.
Like Snyder, I’m a Creative Writing major and though I started my account as a passion project, it’s something I can see helping my career as well. I want to get into publishing and be a book editor, and having a Bookstagram feels like having a mini portfolio that shows that I’m interested in what I’m doing and can give meaningful reviews.
While potential abounds from Bookstagram and it can definitely feel like a wholesome corner of Instagram, it’s not without the competitiveness and comparison that can come with the platform. Snyder isn’t very active anymore because of the time commitment and comparison that comes with having an account.
It can be easy to get discouraged if a post doesn’t get as many likes as hoped for or if the account isn’t growing very fast, but Klotz-Burwell said that “it’s important not to get caught up in the likes and follows. If you actually like doing it then that should just be something good that comes out of it. That shouldn’t be the main thing you’re focused on.”
As a new-comer to the platform that’s definitely something I’m trying to keep in mind. Of course, she said she does get happy when she gets new followers or likes, but for her it’s more about the fact that people are actually interested in the content she’s creating and connecting to it.
“People will really focus on the likes and comparing themselves to others and I’ve definitely done that, but it’s important to remember that if you’re actually passionate about what you’re creating and posting, then the follows and stuff shouldn’t be as relevant,” Klotz-Burwell said.
Finally, for anyone else interested in starting their own bookstagram, I asked Klotz-Burwell for her best advice.
“Find what you’re interested in, find your book niche, connect with other people, and have fun,” she said.
I’m definitely feeling more inspired and connected to other booklovers in an unexpected way after becoming a part of this unique community. And, it’s been especially nice to connect with others in such a positive way virtually through this ongoing pandemic.
Are any of you part of the Bookstagram community or other niche communities on Instagram or other social media platforms? Comment your thoughts below, and to check out the Bookstagrams mentioned in this article check out @yuki.reads and @katsbookstack.