Monday, 4 April 2016

Joining Bookstagram: 10 Lessons in 10 Days

Hello lovely people!

10 days ago, I decided to start up a bookstagram (@readabilitea) and book blog. Here are 10 lessons I've learnt since.

1. Shape

I wanted a photo that summed up my life to be my first. I arranged everything neatly, snapped the photo, and uploaded it. It was only at this point that I realised how wide the photo was. I didn't think this would be a problem with Instagram's new option to share a non-square photo, however when I saw the thumbnail, the book had been cut in half and there was stuff at the edge that made it look messy.

Lesson: I like squares and I'm going to stick to them.

2. Theme

Before joining the bookstagram community, I read a lot of blog posts about what I should do in order to be successful, and a lot of the advice was to have a "theme" to maintain consistency. This worried me a lot because at the time of setting up my bookstagram, I was in the UK, but soon returning to Germany, and after that moving back to a different place in the UK. 

Lesson: Consistency isn't an option for me at the moment, but when I'm in Brighton, I like to have a bright, white, and bold theme.

3. *Social* Media

Bookstagrammers often talk about how sociable and lovely the community is. This is true, but it also requires you to be sociable and lovely. People don't just come flocking to your Instagram page because you've put a few tags on your post (although tags are important). I find that I get a lot more followers/likes/comments if I use the Explore tab more and spark conversations with people. After all, this is what I wanted! I wanted to have discussions about books with people, but sometimes I have to be the one to start them. 

Lesson: Bookstagrammers are brilliant, supportive, and incredibly fun.

4. Phone vs. Camera

I have an excellent Canon Powershot sx610. It's a semi-automatic compact with a manual mode. My phone is an LG G3. I originally that my Canon would be the best for taking photos of books, but I've found that I much prefer using my phone. My camera photos tend to require a lot more editing, which adds a lot of time to getting a photo up. With my phone, the colours are better and I can even upload them straight to Instagram if I want to post quickly. 

Lesson: You need to find what *actually* works for you, rather than what you think should work for you. No DSLR necessary.

5. Time

In all, I've spent less time reading in the last 10 days than ever before. That sounds bizarrely contradictive but I love it! This new hobby is helping me with my goal of engaging more with books rather than just racing through them in order to finish them, plus I'm thinking a lot more about social media and how best to use it for my requirements, AND I'm learning about photography. The other day, I even did some coding!

Lesson: Bookstagramming takes time, but it develops skills that will be useful to take to job interviews and say "Look at what I've been doing in my spare time. Look how useful I am to you."


Despite the fact that I'm spending less time reading, my to-be-read list and my existing bookshelf have grown immeasurably. Before it was hard for me to go to Waterstones and not leave with something; now it's downright impossible. 

My wallet has taken quite a hit due to my insatiable need for books, but luckily bookstagram has made me appreciate libraries more. Since being at university, libraries had become purely academic sources of books. Now, however, I see them for they really are: a wonderfully diverse space filled with books, newspapers, and audiobooks.

Lesson: You don't have to own all of the books you feature on your bookstagram. Support local libraries!

7. Getting It Right

I am not a professional photographer. I have never studied art. A lot of the photos I take are based purely on what I've seen on Instagram that I want to try. 

The thing is though, what works for someone else won't always work for me. BUT! It's always worth trying. I was playing around with what I thought were really weird angles when taking photos of Cinder, but then I found that I really liked the unfocused pile of books in the background, which led me to take the photo below, which I'm really pleased with! 

Lesson: Try new things out because you never know what might work really well.

8. Props

Props are objects that feature in a photo, and can be literally anything: flowers, candles, bookmarks, pens, notebooks, mugs, funkos. As with books, my desire for more props has grown exponentially. 

In terms of bookmarks, I was a used train ticket kind of gal, until bookstagram showed me the wonders of the bookmark world. The same goes for candles (which I have never used before in my life), flowers (which I have before seen as impractical), mugs (why do I not own a Harry Potter themed mug already?) and funkos (impossibly cute, where can I buy one?). 

Lesson: I need to get experimental with objects already in my possession.

9. eBook Photos

I have found taking photos of eBooks remarkably hard. I thought things had improved when I discovered that if I used the Kindle app on an iPad, the covers would be in colour. However, now I'm faced with a new problem: I haven't quite figured out how bright the screen of the iPad needs to be in order to photography well enough to be able to see it clearly, but not completely overwhelm the photo with its brightness.

Lesson: So far, I haven't come up with a solution for this one. Do you have any tips? Tweet me or comment below!

10. I am not too old for YA Fiction!

The last time I was in the children's section of Waterstones before starting my bookstagram was probably when I was about 15 years old. Since then, I have been under the impression that I must read "grown-up" books like classics and the contemporary fiction featured in the Guardian. This is a lie. 

Bookstagram has taught me that books are to be enjoyed - by anyone. It's okay for me to read Sylvia Day's romances alongside books that can be found in the "young adult" section. 

Lesson: Read whatever you damn well want.

I hope if you're considering starting a bookstagram, this has inspired and informed you! Or maybe you're new to bookstagram, in which case: what have your experiences been? Either way, tweet me @readabilitea, or leave a comment below!

Love to you all,