How to Take the Perfect #Bookstagram

Amanda Livingston  //  Aug 23, 2021

How to Take the Perfect #Bookstagram

Many of us know, love, and participate in the #Bookstagram community on Instagram. It’s a dedicated group of readers— teachers, parents, librarians, fiction-lovers, writers, children’s book fans, and more—who enjoy posting and sharing what they’re reading, what’s on their TBR lists, and what they recommend for their fellow readers.

If you look up the hashtag “#bookstagram” on Instagram, you’ll find over 60 million posts from readers all over the world.

Here are some examples: 

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Scholastic (@scholasticinc)

 
 
 
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A post shared by I read YA (@ireadya)

 
 
 
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A post shared by Zakiya N. Jamal (she/her) (@zakiyanjamal)

But how does one create the perfect #bookstagram? How does one get the perfect photo angle and background? How does one know how to reach their readers with good, #bookstagrammable content?

It all starts with taking the perfect photo. Let’s use The Hunger Games as an example.

I usually try to find the perfect background that not only complements the topic of the text, but also provides a contrast to the colors of the book cover. For The Hunger Games, I chose this forest green velvety background, which reminds me of the forest Katniss often hunts in. Sometimes it’s not possible to find a background that perfectly matches what the book is about, and that’s totally ok! You can also find something that contrasts the aesthetic of the book.

The background I’m using here is actually a dress I own that I spread out on my floor— though it looks a little wrinkly here, I made sure it was flat and perfect for the end product.

Anything that takes up the entirety of the background of a photo when you crop it into a square works— a tablecloth, a shirt, your bathroom tiles, the brick wall outside of your apartment building… as long as the background you’re choosing matches the topic or contrasts the aesthetic of the book, you’re good to go. 

I also like to include a prop or two that’s related to the book, if I can. This can range from something specific (like a Harry Potter wand) to something vague (like flowers, or ribbon, or other props). For example, I have a Mockingjay pin that’s similar to the one Katniss wears in the arena, and is a symbol of her status as a revolutionary figure in Panem. I decided this would be perfect for the picture. 

You can find lots of items that can double as props at home, or online. I like to get book-specific props on Amazon, Etsy, or at my local thrift store. Even nature (sticks, stones, dirt, plants, etc.) can serve as great props or backgrounds. 

Next, I placed the book at an angle against the background, with the pin right next to the cover. This draws attention to the cover, but also makes you pick up that the Mockingjay is an important symbol in the book.

I cropped the photo to a square, added a filter or two, and voila! We have the perfect #bookstagram photo. 

Everyone takes pictures differently, so if you find that something else works better for your Instagram or your personal style, that’s totally okay and encouraged!

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