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Learn how to start a bookstagram, an Instagram account for books, with printable instructions from a professional and full-time book blogger.
Are you wondering if you should start a bookstagram? Heck, what is a #bookstagram account?
Our Bookstagram 101 Guide will walk you through how to start a bookstagram, bookstagram hashtags, and bookstagram name ideas.
Find photo editing apps, props to use, and photography layout ideas. Learn why you might want to become a bookstagrammer or have an Instagram account tied to your book brand.
Plus, for double niche blogs, learn how to curate a bookstagram that’s so much more than just books. Here at The Uncorked Librarian, we showcase travel, cocktails, book lists, and book reviews.
Keep your audience engaged, and score sponsorships as well as free books. Build relationships with authors.
Have fun, and create the #bookstagram community you want. We even have a printable #bookstagram how-to guide at the end. Let’s get started!
Don’t miss our Master Guide To Starting A Successful Book Blog, too.
A Few Quick Bookstagram Tools To Get You Started:
Canva Pro: Looking to make beautiful graphics for your #bookstagram, book blog, Pinterest, and Facebook accounts? I love Canva and swear by it for everything I do. I even used Canva to create the graphics in this post. Try Canva Pro for free here→
Travel In Her Shoes Presets: It’s no secret that I don’t love editing blogging and bookstagram pictures. I love Aggie’s presets. She has a ton to choose from. You don’t need a paid version of Lightroom to use her presents on mobile.
Don’t miss all of the Blogging & Instagram Resources We Use & Recommend.
What is Bookstagram?
If you are a book reviewer or book blogger, the bookstagram community is probably for you. Book Instagram = #bookstagram
P.S. Because I am a double niche book blogger — literary and tipsy travels and travel books — my Instagram account looks much less traditional than most bookstagrammers. We will talk about this too.
Bookstagram is an Instagram account about books with pictures dedicated to showcasing everything bookish. Just picture Instagram hitting it off with books and getting it on, really.
Book lovers use a series of bookish hashtags, participate in special book events and themes, and usually post pictures that involve bookshelves, book spaces, and of course, a book or books.
Host book reviews and book giveaways. Harry Potter is always boss too. Well, until J.K. really messed that up.
Some of the best bookstagrammers stick with a theme. Many use unique props and backgrounds. Others have signature styles or colors unique to their brand such as rainbow bookshelves. Basically, librarian and book nerd heaven.
When looking at how to start a bookstagram, I recommend checking out @jenniaahava for inspiration.
There is an entire world of bookstagramers like Jennia and many of them work with reps to sell fun bookmarks, Funko figurines, stationery, and mugs.
Authors and publishing companies send #bookstagrammers free books, too. Sometimes, companies for book subscription boxes, notebooks, and book clubs will pay for influencer ads or share commission on sales.
Readers log into Instagram to view book reviews, see pretty book pictures, and participate in giveaways. Your audience is the literary community. And who doesn’t love books? Really?
If you want to work with book brands on IG, don’t get scammed. Learn the Red Flags For Bad Instagram Collaborations Here.
Why Start A Bookstagram?
What Is The Point of Instagram and Bookstagram?
As previously mentioned, I am a rarer breed of bookstagrammer. I recently started mixing travel and books together. I am growing to love this diversity.
You might even find booze, too — but these are all a part of my niche.
Branding and consistency are important for serious bloggers and IGers. You want a specific niche, and you want to *mostly* stick to it.
Bookstagram is a great way to showcase your specialty, expertise, and market a blog or business if you have one. Your IG stories, however, can be more fun and personal.
So why start an Instagram for book people?
- Instagram is a visually beautiful social media platform to showcase pretty pictures with short captions.
- People use Instagram to get inspiration as well as make purchases.
- For some, Instagram translates to more blog traffic.
- For others without a blog, bookstagrammers use IG to make money from ads.
- Many want to receive free bookish schwag.
- Many companies look for reps and pay them affiliate commissions via bookstagram.
Is Creating A #Bookstagram Really Worth It?
Full Disclosure: Instagram is also the bane of my existence. It’s a love-hate relationship. The social media platform is finicky with an algorithm that changes more times than my love for red versus white wine.
Instagram is also a pay-to-play platform and favors paid-for ads. There is a ton of fake engagement, numbers are still king, and people will F/UF as if their life depends on it.
Bookstagram drama is for real. People argue over reviews, say intolerant things, and destroy Marie Kondo… I warned you.
Quite frankly, IG can be a huge waste of time and make you feel like garbage. It just depends on how you look at it.
For me, bookstagram brings me very little blog traffic, but brands that I want to work with find me there. My followers also like seeing more of my personal Instagram stories — related to books or life.
OMG That Sounds AWFUL: Do I Really Need Instagram? Is It Necessary Learn How To Start A Bookstagram As A Book Blogger?
That was the real talk right there. However, I do believe that all business owners and people who want more than a hobby book blog should have some presence on Instagram. And yes, I am there on Instagram, but I don’t LIVE on the platform anymore.
If you run a book blog, focus on building content there first before getting sucked down the black hole and time suck that is #bookstagram.
If you don’t want a book blog, learning how to start a bookstagram might be for you so that you at least have an outlet or side hustle for book reviews.
I pair my #bookstagram account with this website, The Uncorked Librarian. I post reviews on my book blog and then share bookstagram or related pictures on Instagram to drive traffic to my blog. Pictures range from the occasional flat lay to a book with a travel backdrop or wine.
I also share literary travel, such as bookstores abroad and beautiful libraries, and tips for how to book blog like me.
Not Quite Ready To Learn How To Start A #Bookstagram? Save This Post For Later
When Learning How To Start A Bookstagram, Don’t Make These Five Mistakes
Before we get really into how to start a bookstagram, these are mistakes you want to avoid:
- Starting too broadly with no direction
- Forgetting that you are there for your audience; it’s not about you: provide value
- Writing short, meaningless captions and posting just to post
- Using hashtags that are too large
- Not disclosing gifted items, paid ads, sponsorships/affiliates, and/or that you get something in return for referrals to items like book subscriptions
Keep on reading to learn how not to start off on the wrong foot.
How To Start A Bookstagram: Step by Step
First up, before you learn how to start a #bookstagram, you need to think about your goals for having one. The same with book blogging, you need to determine your name, niche, and your target audience.
What Is Your Passion & What Do You Love?
First up, what do you want your bookstagram account to showcase?
What type of books do you love? Are you focusing on just YA books or mysteries? Do you pair books with recipes? Are you into lifestyle more so than fiction and want to showcase home design books?
Are you a blogging boss babe who only wants to post business and successful books for women?
Do A Little Market Research, Too
On top of your passion, see what people are searching for on Google, Pinterest, and check out other bookstagrammers accounts.
You never want to copy anyone, but see what people enjoy and are talking about. Can you build your own niche?
Think about how you can stand out amongst the masses. And masses there are.
What Are Your Bookstagram Goals?
You also want to determine your goals for starting a #bookstagram.
Are you trying to make money? Is this a fun hobby to review free books from Netgalley? Do you want to be a brand rep or sell your own bookish products?
Are you promoting a blog? Even cooler, are you an author promoting your own books and writing?
Once you determine what you want to showcase on your Instagram account and your goals, you need a #bookstagram name or handle. Mine is @theuncorkedlibrarian across social media channels.
I highly recommend picking a bookstagram name and sticking to it. I cannot tell you how many bookstagrammers lose followers when they constantly switch names. Only do this if you are completely rebranding.
A Few Bookstagram Name Ideas and Factors To Consider
- Is your bookstagram name already taken? Check to make sure the Instagram handle is open. Also, check for trademarks or else the law will shut you down.
- Is your name reflective of your brand? Is it descriptive and professional?
- You want your IG name to be easy to remember, spell, and find. Is it searchable?
- If you plan on having a book blog or using other social media channels, is your name available across platforms and the Internet?
- Consider if you want to be known for your personal name or a quirky brand name. Bloggers debate this as they grow bigger.
Also, are you thinking of starting a book blog? You’d go through the exact same process as above. Grab the Basics Of Successful Book Blogging Here.
How To Open & Start A #Bookstagram On IG
A Business vs Personal Bookstagram IG Account
This goes without saying, but once you have a bookish name, you will need to sign up for Instagram. If you are thinking about turning your Instagram into a little profit and sponsored hell…I mean sheer fun…business, I recommend using a public IG business account.
Why a business account? Mostly because you can see your stats. If you work with brands, they will also want you to send stats to pay you for ad campaigns and such.
However, rumor has it that IG is MUCH nicer to personal accounts. You just lose all of the above features. Bloggers have debated and tested this theory out for a while to no avail. May the odds be ever in your favor… I cannot tell you what to pick, for sure.
I won’t walk you through setting up an IG account step-by-step; you can also just literally sign-in via your FB account. If you do need help, though, please message me.
Having A Strong Profile On IG
Once you sign-up for IG, you need a strong Instagram profile with keywords. I highly recommend using a picture of you and not your brand logo.
People want to see a face to the name. This is much more personal than a brand logo, which is usually associated with someone trying to sell you something.
Keyword Your Bookstagram Account
Keywords are like hashtags and need to be relevant and searchable. Keywords tell users what you are all about. Here is a screenshot of my profile:
The @theuncorkedlibrarian is my Instagram handle.
On my profile, I want visitors to know my first name, Christine, (yes, I am a real-life, breathing person with feelings) and my blog names. I can’t fathom managing two different IG accounts for each blog right now.
Next to your name, you might want to have your brand name like this: Christine | The Uncorked Librarian. Unfortunately, mine does not fit.
In my profile, I tell people what they can expect to find on my sites and Instagram account. Why should they keep coming to my bookstagram or Instagram feed?
Right away, people also see what types of pictures they will discover on my account, who they are talking to, and what value I am providing.
At the end of the day, your #bookstagram account isn’t about you unless you are just having fun. Bookstagram is about providing meaning and value to an engaged audience.
I also recommend trying this IG #bookstagram approach, if you have more room: In your profile, tell people one to three problems that you will solve and offer them a free little bonus: either a blog post or opt-in.
You’ll notice that I have a special page for my Instagram links and references that directs users to my website.
How To Start A Bookstagram: Taking Photos
Photo Content Ideas & Your Instagram Grid
After you create your bookstagram profile, you want to think about your content: pictures and captions. I’ve always been told that it’s a good practice to alternate pictures across 3-5 themes or styles.
As a rebel bookstagrammer and double niche blogger, here is TUL’s version of #bookstagram:
As you can tell, my #bookstagram doesn’t just focus on flay lays and has no bookshelves. Plus, travel changes up my audience a bit. In some ways, this makes my audience smaller.
Not all book lovers follow me if they are looking for only flay lays and pretty bookshelves. On the flip side, not all travelers follow me if they don’t want to hear about books.
I am OK with this: I want to be an ‘expert’ in my small niche. Just think about that need you are filling and your goals.
Any of these methods or coming up with your own is more than acceptable. See what your audience engages with and relates to. Make it your own.
Do You Need #Bookstagram Props?
I am all about buying basic bookstagram props or using what you have around the house. Since I travel a lot, I sometimes bring my books to locations and shoot on location.
Buying bookish props is up to you and your budget. A few ideas for things to buy for bookstagram that not required:
Where Can You Buy Bookstagram Supplies?
The Dollar Store is your best friend but I won’t lie: I went to Michaels because, well obviously, I love Michaels.
You can probably find materials much cheaper at Target, Walmart, and any dollar-like store, but an excuse for a mid-day rendezvous with a craft store? I am IN. Plus, Michaels sells giant wine glasses.
For under $50, I decided to buy my initial #Bookstagram supplies and props:
- Scrapbooking paper for my backgrounds
- Plastic flowers, candles, and glowing stringy lights
- A white foam board to lay everything out on top of
- Cute little props that I could not resist. Everyone needs more foxes and owls in their lives, right?!
What Bookstagram Props You Can Dig Up Around The House?
Anything and everything!
Just keep consistent with your brand and who you want to be. Heck, I used my running shoes that paired well with a book.
Think about maps, confetti, strings of lights, old greeting cards, scrapbooking materials, ticket stubs, pictures, crafts, wine bottles.
A few Bookstagram prop ideas:
- Mugs & Cups
- Blankets & Towels
- Christmas Tree Ornaments (even if you don’t celebrate)
- Art supplies
- More books
- Bookshelves & Bookends
- Book art—as a former librarian, we folded junky donated books into owls, turkeys, and you name it; this is not book blasphemy or shit out of Fahrenheit 451, I promise.
P.S. I always peruse Amazon for cheap crafting supplies too.
Don’t Forget Those Comfy Nooks & Reading Spaces!
Now It’s Time To Channel Your Inner #bookstagram Photographer:
Once you have your bookstagram props and niche down, it’s time to get busy at pictures.
Use A Solid Camera
I am book blogger and travel writer, not a photographer. Sure, I might take a few courses here or there, but it’s not my thing…
For now, I pretend I am an artist and pray to the lighting and picture gods that one out of the 100 pictures I take will be workable.
I know some ambitious bookstagrammers who follow photographers that share professional camera settings in their IG captions. They try to mimic pictures with those settings. This imitation is a brilliant idea, but right now, ain’t no roque librarian got time for that.
What I do have is a Canon EOS Rebel T5 and an iPhone. The above camera is a slightly newer model.
The Canon and I could be besties but I am much more comfortable on my iPhone, which takes fabulous bookish and people pictures.
Unlike blog posts, remember that Instagram shows much smaller pictures anyway. You can also peruse cameras and equipment options here.
Think About Lighting
A lot of people have little extra lighting gadgets that they buy and love.
Natural light has always been the best for me. My indoor pictures, even with editing, are darker and grainy. Plus, my cats insist on helping. If you take indoor pictures, locate the nearest window.
I also own the above Ring Light that I love. This tripod holds my phone or camera, comes with a Bluetooth remote, and offers a variety of light settings. Think videos, Zoom, and extra flat lay or selfie lighting.
Utilize Lightroom and Editing apps
If you are in the business of posting pictures, Adobe Lightroom CC has been one of my greatest investments. There are a ton of YouTube tutorials out there. Lightroom helps makes my pictures brighter, clearer, and I can edit the colors to better brand my content…or so I try. And fail.
I bought an Adobe package of goodies for about $9.99 a month and have access to Photoshop, which I use to resize images and to fix e-reader book covers (more to come on that skill). There is a cloud to store pictures, and I love Adobe Spark for IG story covers.
Is there a bookstagram app? Specifically, not that I know of or use, but here are some free editing apps:
P.S. Unum is a great app to layout pictures in advance to see how they look together. This little app also gives you some free engagement tips like your most popular hashtags. There is a paid version too.
When All Else Fails: Presets BABY
Lastly, I purchased the infamous Aggie Lal’s presets (Travel In Her Shoes IG goddess). Aggie’s presets are a great starting point to show you how you can play with grain, focus, colors, shadows, and highlights.
Aggie’s world-traveling pictures are gorgeous, and I love tweaking her settings to work for me. You can check out Travel In Her Shoe’s presets packages here.
Do I also need to mention that you shouldn’t be a tool and never STEAL people’s #bookstagram pictures? Cuz that is totally happening right now too. Plagiarism is against the law so shoot your own damn pics.
Read more about why Stealing Content Is Not A Form Of Flattery & how it could get you sued.
Ways To Shoot Your Bookstagram Pictures
What Is A Bookstagram Flat Lay?
All of these editing tools and props are great but what about the actual picture? I am much better at taking flat lays, which is basically a picture from above looking straight down.
Others use angles and even straight-on shots. I’ve seen edgy pictures with shadows, people reading, and books hanging from trees. Just do you.
Here are two bookstagram flay lay examples from TUL:
How To Start A Bookstagram: What About Grainy Ebooks?
When taking a picture of an eReader, sometimes the cover or glow gets obscured. Just think about how hard it is to take a picture of your computer screen.
The trick is to use an image of the book cover (one that you have permission for) along with an editing tool, like Photoshop, to superimpose the book cover over the eReader in the original shot. It’s unicorn magic!
Read my Photoshop Tutorial For Book Blogging to see this trick in action.
Other Types Of #Bookstagram Pictures
If you don’t love traditional flay lays, which is becoming less my style, you can have people in your pictures reading books. You can place books out in the wild. Truly, you can do whatever it is that your heart desires.
Did you find these how to start a bookstagram tips helpful? Save this post:
How To Properly Start A Bookstagram Caption With Hashtags For Beginners
Bookstagram Hashtags And Captions
Once you take pictures and have your account all set up, what comes next? Writing time!
You might be wondering what to include in your bookstagram caption. I recommend a feisty summary, book information such as the author and date published, and of course, what you thought.
Tell us why we should care. Give us something we didn’t know.
One day if you become a rep, you would also include information with your rep codes for discounts. Personally, I love a good story about where you were reading the book or a true life connection.
Feeling uninspired? You might find these Book Blogging & Bookstagram Post Topics helpful.
Hashtags Are My B*tch…but really it is the other way around:
Hashtags are key to finding relevant content on Instagram and letting readers find you. I gain new followers from hashtags and find some inspiring accounts.
Hashtags are even more important for bookstagram because unlike the IG traveling world, geo-tagging (basically showing locations) does not make as much sense.
I highly recommend following a few #bookstagram hashtags as well as top accounts in your niche.
The Perfect Mix of Hashtags
On Instagram, you can use up to 30 hashtags. Try your best to use them correctly. People go crazy. There is an ongoing debate if you should use all 30, too. Some people recommend 5-10. See what works for you.
Instagram will punish you for using hashtags incorrectly or in a spammy way (i.e. hashtagging ‘bikini’ for a book picture).
There is also all of this debate about putting hashtags in the caption vs the first comment. As of 2021, I still personally advise hashtagging in the caption. But it could change tomorrow.
As with all IGers, you have to do your hashtag research. Librarian glasses on: You always want to aim for hashtags that have 10,000-200,000 uses and mix it up with each picture. You also want hashtags that are niche relevant. For example, I use #literarytravel and #travelbooks a lot.
You may want to hashtag your brand like #theuncorkedlibrarian.
A General Rule Of Thumb For Bookstagram Hashtags:
Five to 10 of your hashtags can be in the 7,000-20,000 range and another set of 5 can be in the crazy millions. If you use the big hashtags, your account will drown in picture overload within .000008 seconds.
Get ready to laugh: this murder by books includes actually using #bookstagram, which has 58.6 million posts at the time of this updated bookstagram post.
Bookstagram Hashtags To Consider By Usage
Some large and popular hashtags to use very sparingly with posts already in the millions:
#booklover #bookstagrammer #bookaholic #bookworm #bookphotography #igreads #bookadditc #bookblogger #ilovebooks #instabook #bookish #bibliophile #bookshelf #booknerd #currentlyreading #ilovereading #bookgeek #bookgram #readersofinstagram #bookreview #book #bookworm #bookishfeatures #booklover #booksbooksbooks #bookhaul (everytime I look at these, they shoot up too fast)
Again, I also hashtag with my brand, #theuncorkedlibrarian and then also use bookstagram hashtags with the book title, author, publisher, and sometimes sources like #netgalley. Look at including genres too (#yafiction, #YAromance).
After you have your caption, hashtags, and picture, you are READY TO POST!! Congrats!!
How to get your post shared by others: If you want to have a curation account (an account that solely shares others pictures) share your #bookstagram post, make sure to tag them, and use their specific hashtags.
Then there Is One Last Thing…Be Prepared For Disaster:
- Printout Of This Bookstagram Guide
- Instagram Account
- Pick A Bookstagram Niche
Think about what you love, and what type of book niche you want. Consider your goals. Conduct market research. Who is your target audience? What value will you provide?
- Choose Your Brand Name
Make sure your social media handle is available. Check for trademarks. You want to stand out and be easy to find. If you are starting a book blog, check all social media channels to ensure your chosen name is available.
- Open An Account On Instagram
IG is a picky beast. If you plan on working with companies that require stats, open a business account. You can always switch later.
- Properly Brand & Set-Up Your Bookstagram Account
Start with a strong Instagram profile. Use a personal picture versus a logo. People like to see a face behind the name. Let your audience know what value you will provide in the shortest way possible. Tell them who will enjoy your account and what they can expect to find.
- Start Planning Your Content & Taking Pictures
I alternate posts across 5 themes: quotes, a book cover grid, cocktails, travel, and Asheville. Even if you only post books, mix up what you post and your style. I use Buffer to schedule posts in advance. You might want to purchase props and use photo editing apps.
- Write Engaging Captions
You want to keep people on your bookstagram account longer. Write long and engaging captions. Use spaces abundantly -- preferably one after every 1-3 sentences. No one loves reading chunks of text. Also, be intentional in what you write. Don't just post to post.
- Conduct Hashtag Research
Hashtags still matter for #Bookstagram, and nope, unless you are huge, that hashtag is off-limits to you. You always want to aim for hashtags that have 10,000-200,000 uses. Sure, you can sprinkle one or two huge ones in, too.
- Be Consistent & Show-Up
Instagram is a small part of my book blog. I run two massive websites. I am not consistent on Instagram. If you want to grow, don't be like me. Post 6-7 days a week. Mix up reels, pictures, videos, and graphics. Be active on Stories.
Did you learn how to start a Bookstagram from this post?
Big people glasses on: Are you ready to start your own bookstagram? Do you think you can create a beautiful bookstagram? Let us know in the comments.
This post originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for 2021.