My Problem With The Bookstagram Aesthetic

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I love bookstagram (bookstagram being bookish things on Instagram). I wouldn’t call myself a true book blogger. But I love posting book photos and I love talking to people about books. But there is one thing about it that annoys me. And that is the bookstagram aesthetic. You’ll probably know what I’m talking about.

All those lovely flat lays featuring a book along with a fluffy blanket, maybe a cup of tea or a fancy bookmark (usually featuring some funny quote about reading). A candle or fairy lights and various other bits of ephemera that is somehow related to the book.


Now I should point out I love these photos, the thing that annoys me is I want to achieve that effect and can’t. I don’t have lots of fluffy blankets and candles and interesting things. What I do have is a white sheet and some funkos. I wouldn’t even say I have bookmarks. The closest I get to a bookmark is using a train ticket. Most of the time I just fold the corner of the page down. Apparently some people think this is wrong, but some people also like Twilight. Now the thing that annoys me about this aesthetic is that I can’t achieve it with what I have so part of me wants to buy stuff so I can.

And that is totally ridiculous. I’m annoyed at myself more than anything because I want to spend money on things I wouldn’t normally buy so I can get internet karma. Those little hearts and comments aren’t worth the money I would spend on those accessories. But I want my photos to look as good as possible and part of me thinks that spending money on stuff would make them look better. Which is silly. Really silly.

I think I need to remind myself that the whole point of buying books is that I enjoy reading them. I don’t buy books to post nice photos on Instagram.

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  • Dean

    Then why don’t you create your own aesthetic with your white sheets, Funko’s and ticket stubs! I know I’d like to see a change of aesthetic in the Bookstagram world–all the photos are starting to look the same to me!

  • Lizzy

    I totally feel you. I’ve given up on trying to be a “real” bookstagrammer…I do take and post pics of my books and reading places, but they are pretty plain and simple. Every now and then I get inspired by my small collection of Funkos or candles, but that’s about it. My cat is my most frequent prop, haha. 😀

  • seekateread

    I think this same thing all the time!!! …If only I had a beautiful chandelier, my books would look great with champagne and caviar… Mostly I try not to give in to the temptation

  • Leona

    You can always photoshop them you know 🙂 I don’t have such fluffy blankets and fairy bling, besides I’m an ebook person and don’t have the space or physical ability to handle hard copies so I sometimes pose my ebook reader showing the cover inage next to a bottle of booze. Posing books with booze trend was made popular on Facebook by some authors and reviewers, I don’t even drink but I pair tge books with the liquors I keep around for guests. I’d pose my cat if ge cooperated, but alas, he’s too stubborn. You can find your own unique theme, it doesn’t have to be like everyone else. If you are a tea/coffee drinker, you could pair the books with teas or coffee blends, for example. Or pose the books with autumn leaves at a park, or some other spots where you live?

    • bluchickenninja

      I’m pretty sure you don’t see more of that on Instagram because it’s mostly young people taking photos of their books (I have a theory thats why most books are YA too). But books and alcohol is definitely something I’ve come across on Facebook.

      • Leona

        Yeah the 30+ crowd does the books+booze thing. Some folks pose their books with their pets, that’s cute. You can build your own unique style, posing them with a unique background fabric and some interesting item like old cogs and gears.

  • moonike

    I follow you BG and if it matters, I like your photos cause they are not like most have. Your photos have a nice clean aesthetic, and while there are others going for minimalism as well, you don’t really repeat yourself from photo to photo, yet there’s a quality to them that makes them recognisable.
    Then again, I understand you, damn those little hearties..
    And I totally want fearie-lights too, but they’re not sold in my country.

      • moonike

        I might be just bad in the looking-for-lights game. There’s regular Christmas-lights, with the big fat fire, but not the actual fearie-lights, with a thin wire and tiny led-s. Ah, so be it, I can manage with whatever I have at home then 🙂
        And yes, I love my photos, sometimes am really excited about them, and it makes me happy that someone else has found them likable or relatable. Doubles the joy. Need to beware though, not to get too addicted to said joy.

  • Angela Sylvia

    That’s funny. But also, I get it. I don’t bookstagram enough, but I have spent time arranging things and putting stuff next to the books. But I also like the pictures that reflect the person’s life. I think a train ticket sticking out of a book is great!

  • LilKoalaBooks

    Your feed is beautiful. I always enjoy accounts that mix it up and create different settings just as much as the ones with fairy lights. I had thought the same thing about backgrounds and lights when I started bookstagramming but I quickly realized that it didn’t fit what I’m comfortable with. Those feeds look very nice and professional and great to look at but I also find the feeds where people take pics of books in their backyards just as beautiful. I use props sometimes but it’s mainly things I find around my house that I only think to use when I have some sort of topic or theme in mind. I like getting creative with the things I already have lying around the house like Legos, dvds and games that fit the theme. It’s bookstagram so people are mainly there to see the books! Everything else is optional 🙂

  • LuanneH

    Lol. Yes it’s so hard to make my photos look as good as some of the amazing work out there. So much fun to try though. White backdrops are great, use the sheets!

    Luanne – Exploring Wellness

  • Magpiemakingdo

    I feel you. I get such bad cases of instagram aesthetic envy it’s not even funny. It’s the lighting that always gets me – I swear some of these posters must have like, professional lighting set-ups because there’s no way lighting that perfect is natural! For what it’s worth, I love your feed to pieces.

  • dunkeruheito

    I met the same problem and really annoyed me. I didn’t know how to create the aesthetic look, when I got no funko, no fluffy blanket, no cute socks or any merchandise, I just got books. Right now, I tried to take a picture of my books in open space, I mean in a cliff or sky or garden.

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