All bloggers have some kind of post that they feel they have to write. A post that really means something to them because it’s something they deal with and understand. I’ve written other posts on that, on things like gender and writing. But something I don’t talk about much is. Well, being poor. Because I am poor, my whole family is. We not so poor that we worry about being on the streets, fortunately, but poor enough that we have to watch what we spend. We have to look at things and wonder if it’s worth it.
And honestly? A lot of the time bookish stuff doesn’t make the cut. I do still buy too many new books. And I really need to stop. But I know there are others out there who may feel that not getting all the new releases? That maybe it’s not worth being a book blogger or booktuber or bookstagrammer. And honestly? That’s not true. You can make do with what you have. I could make do with what I already have if I started being sensible when it came to new books.
You might be wondering why I made this post, and I’m going to get into that now. But I basically wanted to share a few tips.
Some of these are going to be easier to come by than others depending on where you live. I know the global south really struggles with getting books. And I don’t have a huge amount of things to suggest when that is the case. But I will add that if you are in one of those countries and you really can’t afford books? It’s okay to do what you can to get them. I support you there, provided you’re not breaking into shops to rob them or something. But I’m pretty sure none of you guys are doing that!
The obvious tip is to use the library if you have one. You can request new releases in – which can often count towards preorder incentives. And there will probably be a lot of the more popular books too. If you want to take photos, I suggest taking the clear covers off the books as otherwise? They are so shiny. But this gives you opportunities to read books and review them. Or share them how you like. You could create a booktube challenge that’s a library TBR game; you could challenge yourself to read and review certain genres of backlist books etc. Hell, a lot of the books Booktok likes to recommend are old, so the library could be great here. You don’t have to buy books to share your love of them with the world. And they don’t all have to be the shiny new releases. As long as you love them – or hate them even – you can share an opinion whenever.
If there’s charity shops or any kind of secondhand shop around you, that can also work in your favour. The books will be cheap, and you’ll probably be able to get a few. And it’s just normal book shopping, but you go in without specifics in mind. It’s great for building up your collection, but how easy this is can depend on the types of book you’re after. Finding those hidden gems will be hard. But if you’re okay with looking for more mainstream titles, you’ll be set most of the time. There’s also plenty of warehouse shops and lists you can sign up for to find new books on the cheap. The Works in the UK often does cheap box sets, and I’ve heard of a shop in the Philippines that does amazing sales every now and then. Though I can’t remember what it’s called off of the top of my head. Look into what’s around you, and you should hopefully find some cheaper options.
I recently did a post on places to find audiobooks which you can check out for more detail. But Spotify can give you access to some pretty good audiobooks, and you can get free trials for other services to see if they’re worth it for the price. For e-books, you could also try a Kindle Unlimited free trial and see if that’s worth it for you.
Finally, I want to suggest swapping books. If you have a few friends who also like to read. Whether they’re online or in real life. Why not swap with them? It could just be lending and giving back, or you can trade books. You can usually find people looking for book trades online in places like Twitter. This can give you opportunities to get books. I’m not gonna lie. There are some frustrating people out there who will only trade for rare ARCs and books. But you just need to scroll past them, and hopefully, there will be someone with something to offer you at some point.
Okay, with booktube your biggest worry is probably camera and recording equipment, right? I won’t lie. A decent camera is a good idea if you want to booktube. But you don’t have to wait to get one. Most smartphones these days have decent enough cameras. Even if your phone is kind of old, you can still try recording on it and see how it turns out.
You don’t even really need to buy a tripod or lighting or anything if you really don’t have the money. I used to stack books up and put my phone on them to record. I’d film in natural light, and it worked. I also used free editing software, though I’m not sure mine was any good. So ask around about what people suggest.
There’s plenty of tags and things you can find on booktube to get you started with what to talk about too. You don’t need to be filming hauls or massive TBRs if you don’t have them. As long as you promote the heck out of yourself? Hopefully, you can grab yourself a few subscribers and enjoy it.
Bookstagram Needs Props!
Okay, bookstagram does mostly needs props. But I’ll get into that in a bit. Because if you really don’t have anything? There are other ways you can do it. Again, you can just use a phone camera. If you don’t have any editing software? Just use what Instagram provides you with. That’s what I do, and I have over 500 followers. So that can still give you decent pics. Also, my phone is kinda old. All my phones have been. When looking into what kind of phone you’re gonna get, look at the camera specs. You can still get something cheap and old but decent. And no, it doesn’t have to be an iPhone. I have an Android personally, so there you go.
For starter photos, you can take pictures out in nature; up against a nice looking wall or floor. If you have any pillows or blankets you like the look of, they’ll work too. You probably have somewhere in your house or around you that will work for taking photos. Use what you’ve already got in the house. Your props don’t need to be bookish. Make yourself a hot drink, put your book next to it. Cosy picture! Same with blankets and pillows! I used to take my books to a local garden in town and place it on walls or in flowers for photos. A lot of these were library books too. But they made for pretty photos, and it was a free way to do it. I kinda wanna get into doing that a bit more again.
If you do want to start collecting props, then here’s what I suggest. Get wallpaper samples for backdrops. These are usually free in shops that stock wallpaper. You can tear a decent amount off, to y’know, see how it looks in your home ahem. And unless you have a really sucky shop, you’ll be allowed to take a few. Just don’t go crazy. Get a couple every now and then and keep them somewhere safe. You can switch up walls and floors without paying out for expensive backdrops. Candles are a common prop and unless you want to collect bookish ones, just get cheap candles from shops. You can get some in cute colours that smell good for a fraction of the price. Fake flowers and things can be pretty cheap too, and if you want a dagger or something? I suggest checking out cheap toy stores. I got mine from an actual prop shop, but it looks just like a toy dagger. I have got other things like handcuffs and playing cards from toy shops though. So do what works best for you. Charity shops can again be good for little bits and pieces too.
Be Active on Social Media
I usually say in these sorts of posts keep an eye on social media. But it’s because it’s a really useful tool. You can find trades and giveaways. You can make friends who might have suggestions on software or props to use. You can learn what you like to see and talk about. If you build up a big enough following, it gets easier to get ARCs too. And even if these are only e-arcs sometimes? Still gives you something to talk about.
Basically, you don’t need to be spending a lot of money to be active in the bookish community. Sure, it would be nice to be getting multiple book boxes every month and splashing out on special edition releases of books. I’d love that! But I can’t, and I know a lot of you guys can’t either. So I hope some of these suggestions will be useful.
6 thoughts on “A Poor Person’s Guide For Producing Bookish Content”
I’m a librarian and I whole-heartedly back using the library! Libraries are making it easier for people to access books. There is the Libby app you can get on your phone and hook up to your consortium and have access to e-books and audiobooks. I live in MA and I have access to basically the whole state. Some places, like Boston Public Library, let you get an e-card to use for Libby.
My library is always on top of what’s new and what’s popular and if we know a book is going to be huge, or it becomes huge, we get extra copies. Also, there is another service called Hoopla that some libraries subscribe to. Plus, people can always find out if their library has a makerspace. If so, they might have camera/video equipment to use! And people can check about their library’s book sales!
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Yes! Some counties here allow for cards just for e-books too. I’m a couple of counties away from Essex and I have an e-book library card
I’ve never heard of a Makerspace before but that sounds so helpful! Thank you for commenting. I hope some people can make use of it
This is a really great post, some really helpful tips.
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