Whether you’re a book lover or not, it seems that books have taken over both the physical and digital world, popping up all over almost every social platform. But do these online book communities actually help readers discover their next literary find?
One thing unknown about book lovers is the fact that, more often than not, many have commitment issues. You see, reading a book is like starting a new relationship. And to stick with one book from beginning to end, weathering through all the storms you and the characters face, is a huge commitment. For that reason, master readers spend hours, maybe even days, raking through thousands of Goodreads reviews and ratings in an attempt to compile the perfect reading list, filled with only the best of the best.
But as the years progressed, many bookworms started shifting from blogs and websites, deciding to experiment with other mediums that’ll allow them to further grow their communities online and connect directly with other readers.
A Quick Guide to Online Book Communities
When we hear the word ‘influencer’, we usually imagine individuals who share lifestyle tips and tricks. However, the term has evolved to include anyone who, well, essentially influences you to take a certain action. That is where book influencers come in. What each of these book influencers does is generally the same, as they all aim to share their love of reading with other like-minded people, be it by sharing reviews or giving out book recommendations. However, what differs between these influencers and their communities is the platform they decide to use.
Having been around since 2010, many bookworms have come together to utilize the widely used photo-sharing platform Instagram. Booklovers welcome readers, writers, and publishers into their community referred to as Bookstagram, and encourage people to share photos, usually aesthetically pleasing, of their current reads, favorite quotes, and/or even fan art. And as this community contains almost everyone that works with anything relating to books, it’s a great place to find out about the year’s anticipated releases. And who knows, if you’re lucky, you might even get an exclusive glace at covers or first pages from your favorite authors.
Another growing community is the one found on YouTube, referred to as BookTube. The main difference between Bookstagram and BookTube is that while Instagram is solely a photo-sharing application, YouTube allows readers, writers, and publishers to create and publish videos. All you need is a phone with a functional camera, easy-to-use beginner editing software, and a YouTube account to start sharing in-depth book reviews or recap posts that help readers remember past novels in a series before beginning the latest one.
And last but not least comes BookTok, the book community created on the popular social platform TikTok. Here book lovers can create videos as short as a few seconds and as long as a couple of minutes. But what really makes this community stand out from the others is that almost all the posts are emotion-driven. Videos range from creators capturing some of the relatable struggles all readers face to swooning over a particular character or scene from a famous novel, encouraging followers to read it just to feel that same emotion personally.
Now, if you find your new favorite creator on a medium you don’t particularly enjoy, I’m here to tell you, fear not. In this digital age, individuals with any online presence tend to make themselves available on all social platforms in an attempt to stay relevant and reach a wider audience. Chances are that BookToker you like is also a BookTuber and has an Instagram page dedicated to books.
But Are These Online Communities Worth Your Time?
To answer this question, we need to break down why people visit these communities and analyze them for any drawbacks.
This reason has to be the first on the list, as it’s why so many decided to even start becoming book influencers. The real advantage here is that these recommendations don’t only need to come from the person uploading the post or video. Always check out the comment section, as this space will usually be saturated with other great reads similar to the ones initially recommended. Furthermore, fellow readers might also react to the post, giving their opinions on the books mentioned, ultimately making your decision of whether or not to buy a novel easier.
However, a problem with these areas on the internet is that after a while, as you watch video after video, like post after post you realize that almost all of these books recommended are the same. Now I’m not saying that these novels are necessarily bad. In fact, most of the time, they are actually fantastic reads (which is why so many people love them). However, they might not be everyone’s cup of tea. When the BookTokers or Bookstagramers you follow tend to only share trendy books in specific genres, online book communities and the unavoidable rabbit holes that come with them might not be for you. Moreover, an issue present in both Bookstagram and BookTok is the lack of time and space for a full-length detailed book review.
Another little secret about us, bookworms, is that we would usually prefer spending the night in, curled up with a good book, rather than going out. Thus, while we want nothing more than to connect with other bookworms, you can imagine how hard it is when they are also curled up in their own homes. This is where these online communities come in, as they allow us to do that without having to get out of our comfy PJs. You automatically get welcomed into a group of people who share the same love you have for reading. Additionally, most book influencers create book clubs that not only motivate you to read, maybe pushing you out of your comfort zone, but also allow you to get closer to other individuals as you get to actually meet them, whether online or in person.
However, as with everything, these communities can be negative. As we mentioned above, sometimes these communities focus on certain trendy books, and while their covers get permanently engraved in your brain, it seems that if you don’t like them, then you’re the odd one out, angering this online mob of bookworms. It constantly seems that you have to have read and enjoyed specific books or have pretty bookshelves to be considered a ‘real’ book lover.
Overall, whether or not these online book communities are worth your time depends on you and what you do when you get there. I like to think visiting these communities is similar to going to a thrift store. Sure, there will be some pieces that are out of date, some that are no good at all, but if you stick around just long enough and really put your back into it, you could very well unearth some timeless gems, making your entire trip worth it. And who knows, maybe you’ll make some friends along the way.
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