“When you talk to bookstagrammers they just talk about loving books. It's refreshing” – so says best-selling author Jo Piazza, in a compelling new Forbes article about the power of book reviewers on Instagram.
Piazza, who wrote How To Be Married, describes how this unassuming sub-section of Instagram are devoted to both reading and critiquing new releases, and break the mould of the social media platform by not seeking any particular exposure.
The journalists recalls how she researched a story about fashion influencers; “The ‘it girls’ of Instagram”.“They spoke more like business women than true lovers of fashion and bragged about their ability to command lucrative deals and around the world trips from brands,” she says.
Bookstagrammers, in contrast, she says, “do this because they love books”.
“Unlike their ‘influencer’ counterparts in the fashion and wellness spaces, they're not getting paid big bucks by brands with deep pockets. Sometimes they'll get an early review copy of a book, but they're often funding their reading habits on their own and running their blogs and accounts on the side.”
So who exactly are Bookstagrammers?
Piazza describes them as a group of devoted readers, who revel in the aesthetics of books (striking covers, beautifully arranged shelves, glorious libraries) as well as providing bite-size reviews and people-powered recommendations.
They’re important both in terms of providing an antidote to “ juicy, depressing and all-encompassing news” and in cutting through the noise of the Internet.
Their posts on Instagram are particularly effective in terms of singling out self-published tomes – which have grown in parallel to their own existence – and for suggesting titles in niche areas, for example women’s fiction, or YA books.
“Their opinions mean a lot to their audiences and they’ll champion what they love, regardless of whether it’s a lead title for the publisher or a known name,” social media consultant Andrea Dunlop tells Forbes.
“No one really even reads full reviews anymore,” says Alyssa Hamilton, the woman behind Insta account Swept Away by Books.
“So the quick snapshot that a reader can get of a book, be it the Instagrammers' thoughts while reading, after reading, or even just a heads up that this book sounds interesting, is integral to how readers find books to read today.
“It doesn't hurt that some of the photography of books is absolutely beautiful, so that draws readers in massively too.”
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It’s the personal yet escapist element of their work that makes Bookstagrammers really stand out.
“Instagram might be one of the safest places on the Internet these days if you want to avoid the difficult news and vitriol that dominates most other digital content,” says Piazza.
“And at the end of the day, word of mouth is still what sells books, advice from friends and friends of friends. Instagram, feels the closest to that of all the social networks.”
Take a look at more beautiful #Bookstagram posts, below.
Top main image: @sweptawaybybooks