#NewBloggers 101, Book blogging, Discussion

Bookstagram Myth: Props Are Expensive? Pamela @ Reverie Society Educates! #NewBloggers 101, Post number 6: How To Bookstagram Cheaper

Welcome to Post 8 of the #NewBloggers 101 post series! This time, we’ll be talking about an all-important topic – Bookstagram, namely – Bookstagram props. And we have Pamela @ Reverie Society here to write about it today! Before I let her tell you all about it though, if you want to read any of the older posts in the series, expand this list:

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2018 (14)

Bookstagram – yet another medium to share our love for books. It’s very tempting to jump in to the bandwagon. Snap a pic of a book and done, right?

Those who have been paying attention know that’s definitely not the case. Instagram is a microblogging platform, and as such, it demands as much time and commitment as a blog does. True, you don’t have to write long posts, but your responsibility here is to convey the beauty of those words, in a picture. And man, are bookworms picky about the photos they give their likes to.

It seems that the big accounts share a few things in common:

  • Their feed is a work of art where all pics complement each other in one way or another
  • They have an abundance of pretty backgrounds to showcase / or really great spots at home (that are not dirty, dark, a mess… etc)
  • They use bookstagram props

In this post, we’re going to talk about this latter one. One aspect of bookstagram that constantly bugs everyone is props. All those little trinkets you fill your shot with so that it’s not the book and… just make it look prettier.

The issue is clear. Not everyone has those kinds of things lying around. I mean, geez, where do you guys find all those flowers? All my mugs are chipped! I don’t even drink coffee! I’m sorry, my fairy lights only come out in Christmas!

That’s okay. I think people respond more to that, yes. It’s kind of mainstream, but I’ve seen quite a few big accounts that have built their following based on good pics alone, no great assortment of bookstagram props needed. And it’s awesome!

Don’t spend a dime on Bookstagram props

Let’s see about trying to use whatever it is you already have at home:

  • Candles
  • Blankets
  • Nice trays
  • Pillows
  • Jewerly
  • Technology (laptops and phones)
  • Blank frames, sheets of paper (You can add in quotes and phrases digitally!)
  • Mugs (A nice trick to simulate coffee is to use coke!)
  • Origami stars!
  • Clothes (Search for ideas on how to style them and pair them with a book!)

Need inspiration of these put in action?

@LocaxLibros is an argentinian account whose feed I love because of all the origami stars! You can see there that she seems to be starting a new theme. But so far, she had just picked a textured background, in this case wood and added the same prop all the time to create a consistent look.

locaxlibros

Olivia from @bookscatsandcoffee mostly uses her shelves as background which works amazingly because they’re super pretty, and of course, using the same background is the best way to ‘theme’ your feed. No fancy filters needed. She does have a lot of funkos though, I’ll give her that.

bookscatsandcoffee

Thom’s feed – @thomreads – is clearly minimalistic and it’s gorgeous. I like how even if a pic has only one thing in it, he manages to make it beautiful and interesting. Try to play with a color or two you can build your feed around to pull this off.

thomreads

Tracey, aka @lifeandliterature has a way of making simple pics appear populated. She manages this because of the set up of her bed. It’s patterned and it gives the appearance of a lot going on in the pictures even where there aren’t many subjects in them. It does help that she’s displaying a sweet writing machine -everybody loves writing machines- but… what really sticks out at first glance is her backdrop.

lifeandliterature

Have a few bucks to spare?

Flowers

Get fake flowers at a Dollar Tree if you’re able to. I travelled to the US last year and you guys have no idea of how lucky you are to have those shops! I was delighted to be able to find fake flowers there that are not $30 for just ONE. If that’s not possible, why not give origami a try?

The famous white background

Foam board available also at Dollar Tree. Damn, I couldn’t bring mine with me to Ecuador because it didn’t fit in my suitcase! Alternatives are white blankets, white fabric in general. It can also even better if you do because, texture. A plain white background forces you to work harder at getting the position of your subjects just right or else the pic looks off and incomplete. However with a textured background, the background kind of becomes a subject in itself.

Other kinds of backgrounds

Make your own! Very recently, I used some plywood planks, glued them together, painted them and made my own ‘wooden background’. I don’t have a complete guide on that for you. But quick tip: If you paint it a dark brown first, then white or light grey over it, and then carefully sand it in a few places, you get a pretty cool vintage effect, as if it was real wood.

And… that’s it! I hope this post gave you a few ideas and a renewed sense of creativity! Also, some new fellows to follow! Go and make an awesome bookstagram account!

Thank you Pamela for giving us all this info about bookstagram props! I feel inspired to spend a little more time on my Bookstagram pics myself! Do you already see yourself using Pamela’s suggestions?

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

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Charvi
Guest

Super helpful post! I’ve recently started a bookstagram and am struggling to maintain my feed already lol. I ultimately decided on keeping alternate posts with white and dark backgrounds, let’s see how that works!

Pamela
Guest

That’s what I’m doing too! I also want to see how it looks after a couple of rows so, good luck to you too! I’m the kind of person that can’t stick to only ONE look for a long time so let’s see how it goes.

Daniela Ark
Guest
Yup I agree! Instagram is an universe on its own and that;s why I don;t do to well in it because my blog is already all consuming of my life. So I take an hour a month take a few pics with things I have on my desk [pens, crayons, a plant etc] and that’s it I wish I could but I really don’t have time to spend on it. And the whole tagging things is mystifying! I have a post drafted about it! HOW ON EARTH you chose a handful of people to tag among the many followers you… Read more »
Pamela
Guest

Yeah, it’s difficult to manage both things. I admit I regularly struggle with it. Lool. I don’t do a lot of tags myself because of that. Sure I know peeps in the community but when it’s tagging time I can’t remember the usernames XD

Gigi
Guest

I’ve recently been trying to come up with ideas on how to jazz up my bookstagram so thanks SO much for this post!

Shruti
Guest

I’m super bad at taking pictures and I joined Instagram recently, after a lot of hesitation. This post is really helpful, Pamela! ^_^

Pamela
Guest

Glad you liked it! Just keep experimenting with things! And it’s true what everyone says, lighting is 80% of a good picture. Rainy days suck XD

veeshee
Guest

Such a great post! I struggle to develop a theme for my bookstagram and this has given me loads of ideas!

Pamela
Guest

Yeah theme is something a lot of people talk about and even though I didn’t intend it, I ended up talking about anyway. Everything is just extremely connected. Props and backgrounds are the elements of a theme. How you play with them is how you end up with one. Keep playing with those ideas!

veeshee
Guest

That’s so true! And I will!!

Sophie Eloy
Guest
As always really interesting! I used planks too and her tip on using fabric is true else your books need to be aligned with everything! I used brambles in one of my pictures of The Cruel Prince and flowers from the garden for Black Bird of the Gallows. Sand (replace it by salt or sugar) can also make for a very useful background as you can write in it (I did it twice one for Stolen and it looked really good)! You can also use feathers (it does not cost a lot) or macarons (and have a blast eating them).… Read more »
Pamela
Guest

The sand or salt as background is so creative! I’d never thought about it! And brambles for The Cruel Prince sounds on point! Sometimes it’s easy to look around and say, ‘I have no props!’, but digging around you can find stuff that you even use daily and don’t realize it could be a great thing to add to a shoot.

You’re so lucky for having access to fresh flowers! They always look so beautiful!

Sophie Eloy
Guest

Well Pamela is was still the end of summer 😉 What I try to do with my bookstagrams is getting inspired by the story or the cover. Example: if they speak about birds in the story I’ll try to use feather or false birds. The Cruel Prince had brambles on the cover so I went into my garden and cut some overgrown brambles. I also try to color coordinate with the cover if it’s possible. Sometimes stones can be used to or moss or …Anything really.

Rosie Amber
Guest

This is a great post. I don’t take on Instagram at the moment, but others I know do.

Pamela
Guest

It’s still good to remember for blog photography if you’re not ready for the bookstagram commitment!

JJ @ This Dark Material
Guest

Thank you Pamela and Evelina! I’m not very talented when it comes to the visual arts, so that combined with the new algorithm has kept me away from bookstagram. I wouldn’t say that this has convinced me to give it a go, but it’s fascinating to learn how much you can achieve with what you already have on hand! I particularly like the pictures that use nature or bookshelves, since those are both easily accessible backgrounds for most bookish folks 🙂

Tânia @MyLovelySecret
Guest
This is an interesting post. I’d like to say that I don’t spend money on props very often, but I do – just went shopping for Easter props today. And, in the end, you kinda have to buy props because, in my opinion, after some time using the same prop over and over again the photos become monotonous (using the same background does not make a photo monotonous, by the way). Even if you just buy a new mug, it’ll make all the difference. However, I don’t spend much on props because I order most of them from ebay –… Read more »
Pamela
Guest

I haven’t gotten anything from ebay but sounds like there’s ton of interesting stuff there! I’m specially envious of that Hogwarts letter XD Will have to check it out!

Brian Joseph
Guest

Very informative and interesting post. I have thought about delving into Bookstagram. The examples of posts that you shared here all look super. Folks are doing very creative things. Of course time is always an issue for me. It is so limited.

Pamela
Guest

Hopefully some day when you’re less swamped you might give it a try! You can learn a lot by drawing inspiration from other accounts, seeing all the possibilities. It inspires you a lot and gives you enough to go on and try your own thing. 🙂

Aditi
Guest

Aaah….I am so so thankful for this post. Taking pictures is definitely not my thing and I always struggle with the props. I usually just apply some filter on the picture. But thank you for giving me some ideas. <3

Pamela
Guest

So happy this helped you. Filters are so important too, and I’m still experimenting with those.

Cait @ Paper Fury
Guest
Yay I love posts about bookstagram! I do work very hard on my props, but I definitely don’t spend a *lot* of money on them. My go-to is second-hand stores! I once got this whole massive vase of fake flowers for $5 and like?! You don’t get better than that. I also like to just use my books as props. So lots of lines and towers and things, that really fills up the frame. I am a little jealous of bookstagrammers who have epic swords and crowns and things in their photos, but I’ll content myself with homemade origami and… Read more »
Pamela
Guest

I love it when you use cakes as props XD They always look so amazing. I also love how those daggers and crowns look on pics, but that’s a level of prop-cover matching I can’t afford XD Yay for cheap fake flowers though!

Miggs
Guest

Digging this post! I like to take advantage of my surroundings, like the marble-esque surface of my living room fireplace or my own window sill or even the park nearby for book pics.

Aj @ Read All The Things!
Guest

I’m so bad at Instagram! There are too many talented people on that site. It’s ridiculous. I find my props by wandering through my parents’ house. I can usually find something interesting in there. Great post!

Kristina
Guest

Ohh very nice post !!

I just took some pictures this morning for two blog posts I wanted to do today and man.. I actually used my retro Legend of Zelda sword I have in my collection why not, eh?

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Tizzy Brown
Guest

Great tips! Thanks for the ideas. I’m trying to up my blog photography game this year.

Early Bookish Birds
Guest

I lovvee this!
Made me.laugh a few times haha
And God yes we don’t have these things lying around haha, but i use what i can find, sometimes i hand craft my own stuff, i make my own candles and bookmarks and stuff like that

Sarabi
Guest

These bookstagrams are awe-inspiring, wow!

This post is incredibly timely because I just started trying to put a ~little~ effort into Instagram. It’s just like you told me before: go with what you have lying around. I realized my hijab collection is basically an endless well of fabric backdrops, lol. I also tend to buy floral clothing so we’ll see how this goes. I don’t quite have the patience to create an IG theme yet though xD

Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra
Guest

Thanks so much for sharing all of these helpful tips. As much as I love seeing other book lover’s photos, I haven’t jumped into Bookstagram yet because of the time commitment and expense (or so I thought, lol). Definitely bookmarking this post to keep as a reference in case I do decide to jump in.

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[…] Evelina @ Avalinahs Books has another New Bloggers 101 post up, a guest post from Pamela @ Reverie Society all about Bookstagram props. […]

Ana
Guest
So true. I use plastic flowers in mine and the prices here are okay-ish. I make sure to pick the one’s with lots of flowers in a cheaper price. I’m starting to collect mugs and they’re not even bookish mugs I just find them really pretty and they’re not that expensive. We use mugs at home too so they’re regularly used. Placemats work too, though we only have ugly ones at home. hahaha! PLATES! Sometimes I use color palettes and just look for anything that matches the book cover. I even bought a small feet rug once, it’s soft and… Read more »
Maria John Writes
Guest

This is a great post, Avalinah! I’ve always wanted to start a bookstagram for the books I read but never brought myself to do it because it seemed as though mine wouldn’t look as good as the others. This is great!

Ara @ Open Pages
Guest

I needed this post. I’ve actually linked to it in my post for this week! (Post goes up on Wednesday, so thank you in advance Pamela and Avalinah.)

I haven’t spent a lot on bookstagram props – I use my daughter’s baby blanket as a backdrop, my laptop case to add some texture and contrasting black on white, and then anything I may have handy as a prop. I try to go minimalist, but I don’t know if I’ve succeeded…

verushka
Guest

Love these tips! Have a white board and keep a constant eye out for the right kind of textured background — especially on my commute to work.

Sim @ Flipping Through the Pages
Guest
Nice post Pamela and Evelina 🙂 This topic is in so much debate these days. But I think if you look carefully, it is not just a hobby for people who can afford costly props. I do know a few large accounts who don’t have those costly props or hardcover books and yet they are famous. For eg, look at the @thebooksatchel account. I guess it is more dependent on how much you interact and how well you curate your feed. I do agree though that a beautiful feed does play a major role in your following. And yes, white… Read more »
Sheila @ She's Going Book Crazy
Guest

There are some great tips here! I always gawk at some people’s Bookstagram and think about how much time and money they spend for all of the paraphernalia they use in their shots. I mean, if you can do that (and afford it) go for it! But…I’ll stick to my pillows and afghans 😛 Great post!

Fanna
Guest

I loved this post so much! As a pretty (very!) new bookstagrammer, I can’t help but always awe at the consistently pretty feeds everywhere and the props seem so privileging to me because ugh, everyone has it and not me 🙁 Though, this post has given me such cool ideas, I might pick one or two tricks from here to create what all the book peeps say–a theme 😀 Also, extra points to Pamela for sharing the coke trick to work as coffee…I had no idea about that, hehe 🙂

Darque Dreamer
Guest

Love this post so much! I really struggle with trying to find stuff I already have to use for props, but I can’t afford to spend and spend like some of the big accounts.

Nicole @ NewbookcatsREADS
Guest

Hi! You have trumped the myth. I always believed that I never had enough money to grab any of those fancy props so I would use my candles or make myself the model holding the book. I guess I just thought that the popular bookstagrammers always had to have the expensive swag. I definitely have to get back on instagram and share my book love. Have fun taking down the myths!

Camilla @Reader in the Attic
Guest
Thank you so much for this 😉 As I little bookstrammer, I was always bugged by manyt things that bigger bookstragrammers say. I alway think that newcomer might get scared that they need incredible proprs. while a white blanket and a nice mug, thanks to a later edit, might create a beautiful and minimalistic feed. Sometimes there’s not all that need to spend money. Plus there’s always the outside, if possibile. Like a near park or a garden. Basically the props there are for free You gave a great idea for the wood background. I wanted one so badly I… Read more »
Jovita
Guest

These are all fabulous suggestions. I don’t have an bookstagram account, but I do enjoy following those that do take the time to post bookish photos.

Pamela should have featured her bookstagram photos in the post, her photos are wonderful. I had to chuckle when I saw the IT book with the little clown funko. 🙂

Olivia-Savannah Roach
Guest

I don’t usually have flowers around but I have a bunch of knick-knacks that I haven’t paid anything for for the sake of bookstagram. So I’m usually using pillows, mugs, or just random little things hehe. I haven’t got all the money to spend on bookstagram either 😀

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Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
Guest

I love the feed with bookcases in the background. I’ve considered doing that, but I have to figure out if I can get it to work because my bookcases aren’t white and I don’t feel like I get a ton of natural light in my room. I think I might play with it, though and see if I can make it work because I’ve figured out that I’m never going to manage fancy book pictures. Those would at least be more interesting than just the book on my kitchen table. 🙂

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