BOOKSTAGRAM IS KILLING THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY!!! (and other lies the book elites whine about!)

Covers from the 1990s now look colourful and almost too busy (the wardrobe of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air would be a close aesthetic comparison). – Holly Connolly

Is Social Media Influencing Book Cover Design? is the title of a recent Guardian article which mentions Bookstagram and how bookstagrammers tend to buy the more “aesthetically pleasing” designed books, which is not entirely untrue. I’ve often picked up a book solely for its cover, and some have remained on my shelves for months without being read. Maybe I will never really read them, but having them on my shelf makes me happy. It’s like having a small piece of art decorating my home.

Besides, beauty is a subjective matter. What I might consider an ugly cover is a treasure to someone else.

One commenter states that they can sort of see the validity of that for a huge house with shelves to fill. But in somebody’s poky flat they can’t even fill a couple of Ikea shelves with books they’ve actually read?

This statement is problematic because it  implies, correct me if I’m wrong, that only rich people are allowed to buy the pretty things. To look down on people who buy books simply for their covers or for Bookstagram is another example of elitism in the bookworm community.

Just a look at the book database of Wheelers, an online supplier of books to public libraries in Australia, shows that in the last three months around 11,000 Children’s and Young Adult books have been published. This is not accounting for adult fiction, non-fiction, ebooks, and indie reads. So, with hundreds of books are being published on a monthly basis – Goodreads has a list of 200 popular titles for July, 2018 alone – one’s book needs to be an extrovert. It needs to screams its contents and attract attention.

A cover can’t change the contents of its book, but it can be a reader’s first impression of the book’s identity, especially with social media; as (Rachel) Willey says: “People now see covers before they get released, before even going to a bookstore.”

A beautifully designed book shows that the publisher cared enough about the book and its story. In a way, it shows that the publisher understood the story enough to visualize it. And what better way to market the book than with the largest social media, Instagram!

Now, in regards to social media’s influence, specifically Bookstagram, one has to first understand that a Bookstagram is more often than not a marketing platform. The bookstagram hashtag already has 23.3 million posts. But of course, targeting Bookstagram isn’t enough.

One of the comments on The Guardian article considers, what they term as, the “women-only clubs” of Bookstagram to be a very problematic concept. Why?

Because they “order their freaking books on shelves by their colour.”

Image result for oooookay gif

“Most beautiful, good things are done by women people scorn.” – Gillian Flynn

Firstly, Bookstagram can be and is a business for many people. People should note that  books might not be selling without the recommendation of our “women-only clubs.” I’ve read comments like these which undermine the women in Bookstagram because they consider it only a hobby. Any work done which is considered feminine, be it needlework, embroidery, knitting, and so on, is devalued because anything with such delicate finesse is an attack on masculinity, right?

Take a breathe and listen.

To the people who love brightening up their home with books, to the Bookstagrammers and BookTubers, to the collectors, whatever you decide to do with books is your personal choice. People can mock and comment all they want but they can’t love a book the way you do. In fact, them mocking another bibliophile shows that their love for books is pure show. 

You are promoting literacy, you’re uplifting years of hard-work, your art complements the novel. You give voice to the book and its author.

So slather on the glitter and the flowers, the look at me fonts, the daggers and the crowns, the neon and the leather! We’ve got an industry to resurrect! 

July Text Divider

What is your experience with Bookstagram? What is the last book you bought because of its cover?

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29 thoughts on “BOOKSTAGRAM IS KILLING THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY!!! (and other lies the book elites whine about!)

  1. Taryn @ tarynandherbooks says:

    Love this post! I’ve been part of the bookstragram community for almost 5 years and honestly cannot count the number of books and new authors I’ve discovered because of other bookstagrammers. I have no issues with people buying books because of their pretty covers and for people to look down on those of us who do that is just silly in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beware Of The Reader says:

    I love bookstagrams as it allows me to create something beautiful to be artistic. It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words and that’s so true! Last cover buy was Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff but UK cover (red with an eye). I think bookstagram is saving the industry or rather saving the PB. You could have expected ebooks to rule but not anymore!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Norrie says:

    Wow, this sounds all very dramatic… 😀
    People buy books based on what colour they want in their room. So? They still but the book. Why do they care?
    Gonna read now that article, but i’m positve i’ll get annoyed 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Vicky says:

    Does it matter if social media influences book cover design if that encourages people to buy books? Bookstagram is amazing! It lets people be wacky, creative and colourful. Bring it on ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  5. ireadthatinabook says:

    Great post! Personally I love good design and am grateful that it has become more prominent in the last few years.

    however, I believe you have a small error in your post, the comment you cite from The Guardian: “sort of see the validity of that for a huge house with shelves to fill. But in somebody’s poky flat they can’t even fill a couple of Ikea shelves with books they’ve actually read?“ was in response to this comment: “Any book dealer will tell you that they have always had a good market for ‘books by colour by the metre’. Interior designers working on older houses with existing bookshelves just ring up and ask for ‘twenty metres of green, ten metres of red, fifteen of blue.”

    It is not saying that only rich people should have pretty things, it is saying that unless you have more bookshelves than you can fill yourself you probably won’t order meters of books of a specified spine colour. That makes sense, at least I prefer to select my pretty editions myself, preferably books I would also like to read.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Briana | Pages Unbound says:

    I think the social media aspect is misleading. First, people have been buying books for their covers long before they could “display” them on Bookstagram. Second, I know my library in my previous town was looking to replace old books with boring covers (in many cases, books that were literally just plain colored without a jacket design, although sometimes “dated” covers) because you can’t display boring books in libraries to get people to notice and check them out. The idea that Bookstagram or women is driving this or that it’s a problem even if they are seems crazy to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Markante Korenwolf says:

    Well said! A book cover should be part of their marketing strategy, if people base their buys partly on the cover then clearly the cover is something important for publishers to work with.
    I definitely agree with your other points as well and could never have put it as clearly as you did!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. tasya @ the literary huntress says:

    I haven’t read the article, but I’ve seen some uproar regarding this, which I think the article deserved. Why do people feel the need to put other people down based on their hobbies? Bookstagram is not only about pretty things, if people who wrote the articles and commented looked at the caption and comments, they will see that we use the platform to promote literacy. To make friends and create a discussion about literature. And of course book covers are part of marketing, it’s literally the first thing we saw about the book!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Daniela Ark says:

    i absolutely adore bookstagram so when I heard about this article I was like WHAT??? the comments were so ridiculous! Like…. We like to organized your books in an aesthetic BUT we don’t read them???? How did they reach that ignorant conclusion? Don’t they read the captions on the post with ACTUAL REVIEWS! Bookstagrammers read LOTSA of books! SMH! Great post Cam!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Aj @ Read All The Things! says:

    That seems to be a very dramatic article :). I’ve never bought a book because of its cover. I’m too broke to do that. Honestly, I’m confused by bookstagram. I don’t know why looking at pictures of books is fun, but if it makes people happy, then go for it. I don’t think it’s hurting anyone or anything. If you buy a book for the cover and don’t read it, the publisher still gets your money. Also, bookstagrammers DO read books. They talk about them in the photo description. Interesting post!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Lori @ Betwined Reads says:

    Thanks for bringing this article to our attention! At least there’s some amazing discussion resulting from this incredibly divisive article. I can understand the author’s frustration to an extent, but not to the point where it justifies such an attack on #bookstagram as a whole. There are definitely people who buy books for decoration, but I’m willing to bet most of the people who do that are not a significant part of #bookstagram.

    I think it’s great that books and art are becoming more entwined because of things like #bookstagram. There are so many amazing artist’s out there who are looking for work that might really benefit from this new demand for aesthetically pleasing books alongside publishers who invest in a nice book cover.

    My only concern about #bookstagram is how it can be difficult for people with lesser means to go far on #bookstagram. I think bookish merch (e.g. pillows, mugs, sub boxes, CANDLES) is kind of ridiculous. I worry about people who think they need to buy into all that stuff in order to succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

      That is the current trouble I have with bookstagram as well. Most days I really don’t want to think about the aesthetics of my photo as I would rather discuss the book. But that’s not going to bring in engagement for me 😦 I also think that many on bookstagrammers dedicate the majority of their time to IG while there are those who work on blogs, YT, and Twitter!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Rasya says:

    I LOVE pretty book covers and in fact, I just wrote a post about it lol.

    Unless you’re a renowned name in publishing or have a hype book under your name, how on earth people could discover your books besides the book cover itself? I mostly shop my books online, and reading reviews and synopsis are not enough for me to decide which books to buy.

    Thanks to bookstgram, I’ve discovered some gems in a genre that I rarely read and taking all those good aesthetically pleasing photos are not easy and they deserve a praise for that. Whether they’re genuine or not is not something that we could judge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

      Yeah, that’s true. The cover plays a big role in the decisions we make for buying a book. I mean, so many products on the market take care of their designs so why shouldn’t books be the same.

      Love your points on this post, Rasya!


  13. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says:

    Oh, wow. I organized my books by color because it makes me happy to look at the shelf that way. It never occurred to me that someone might be disturbed by the beauty of my shelves. I think that person has too much time on their hands if they’re worried about how I arrange MY bookshelves. And I agree that there’s a whole lot wrong with that article.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Zoie says:

    Oooh, this is an interesting topic. I’ve never really gotten into bookstagram, so I don’t have any experience with that, but I think you could make the same argument for bookstores. Usually books with interesting and unique designs will catch my eye more than more dull ones. That doesn’t mean I won’t check out the less colorful or flashy, books, though — some of my favorite books don’t have the most appealing covers!

    Great post, Camilla! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jacqueline Pawl says:

    This post is sooo accurate! I’m an author and I’ve been working on the cover of my fantasy book for months, trying to make it perfect. Most people don’t realize how much thought goes into cover design–from the title font to the colors to the artwork and more. It’s the face of the book, the first impression the reader gets of the story.

    I think bookstagram is as much about marketing as it is about celebrating the beauty of book covers. I’ve connected with so many people I otherwise wouldn’t have met if not for bookstagram. (It’s amazing to be able to fangirl–or fanguy, I suppose–about our favorite books together!) I never would have found out about the collector’s edition of Six of Crows without bookstagram, too, so that alone was worth it 🙂

    This is an awesome post. You’ve gained a fan and a follower 🙂


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