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Book Consumerism & The Effects of Social Media

The book community is a constantly growing group of people sharing their love for all things books. People within the book community have been bonding and connecting through tons of already existing social media sites while others are continuing to pop up and expand all the time.

The online book community is currently present on

  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Blogs (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr)
  • Instagram
  • Goodreads

In addition to these very common places for book lovers you’ll also find a ton of apps that are being developed to share reviews, photos and just opinions of books.

For me the book community was a godsend. Growing up I loved to read books. Whenever someone bought me a book it was a very special thing, although it wasn’t something I always experienced.

I mostly read books I checked out from the library. I enjoyed the experience of going to the library and just walking through, browsing the shelves, and picking up books that stood out to me. It was pretty much the same when I wanted to buy books as well. I’d go to the bookstore and just walk around until something caught my eye. Of course I would have certain genres or authors I’d be more likely to check out but usually when I bought a book the first time I had heard of it was on that very day that I purchased it (unless it was from a series of course).

But things have changed since I’ve discovered this vast group of book lovers online. Since connecting with more book lovers I have found myself buying books far more often that I use to. My TBR (to be read) list has grown so much and I never even knew what a TBR was before this. I use to only have maybe two or three books that I would own at a time that went unread. But now I probably have at a minimum twenty books on my shelves that I have not touched.

I’ve also discovered that I am buying books I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up if I hadn’t found them through the book community. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I get more exposure to books I might not have found but the downside is I don’t just go into a bookstore and purchase books based on just my own connection with them

I also spend more on books. A lot more.

So what exactly happened? Well, the book community has some wonderful advantages to it for bookworms like me. But it can also have it’s downside. And I’ll address some of them below.

Well, there’s this constant pressure to buy the newest and most popular books. If you haven’t heard of or read a certain book that is very popular in the book community you might be getting side eyed (well not really, but it can feel that way). Also there will be an immense amount of pressure from people encouraging you to purchase those books so you can read and own them (I myself have been guilty of being an enabler).

When new books are released you will more than likely see tons of posts, pictures, influencers sharing ARCs, YouTube videos – all telling you how great the book is, how great the author is, or how gorgeous the book cover is (yes, we buy sometimes buy books JUST FOR THE SAKE OF PRETTY PICS/AESTHETICS).

I know for myself I feel an immense pressure to post beautiful pictures of bookshelves filled to the brim with gorgeous HARDCOVER editions of books. This has been especially relevant to those that want to film on Booktube. Many people use these bookshelves as backgrounds for their videos and sometimes as a backdrop for photos on IG (or thumbnail photos). I’ve heard people actually share this concern when starting up a channel that they won’t get a lot of views or subscribers due to the lack of wall to wall bookshelves.

Another thing about the book community (and this seems to be a topic for discussion right now) is the lack of library books being shared by “popular” booktubers. I don’t see that there’s a problem with this although I can see how this can influence others to feel like they need to purchase books in order to grow their following. While the primary focus of this book community is to share our love of books there is also a highlight on the aesthetic that we produce in order to gain more followers and connect with more people. This is harder to do with library books. You can’t fill a bookshelf with library books.

YouTube itself has very specific ways in which it can influence the audience to feel like they need to purchase certain books. Some of the the videos that cause me to want to go purchase more books are:

  • Book hauls – sharing books that you purchased
  • Book tags – questions about books owned
  • Books on your shelves

Admittedly many of the books I own right now are because it the “hype” they’ve received. But here’s the things. I can’t blame anyone else in the community for what I decide to buy. I think people are genuinely just trying to share their love of books and sadly that’s just one of the effects that comes with it.

So what should we do about it?

In my opinion, nothing.

We have to learn to just accept others for the choices they want to make, do what we love to do (not what we feel we have to do), don’t criticize each other for whatever choices they make, and try not to pressure each other or make anyone feel less than for not going along with the crowd.

Let’s all just keep loving books and sharing that love like always.

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