Emma and Karah (Preiss) talk Belletrist which is a small part of an article that discusses online book clubs, see below along with a new photo of the two. Updated social media shares, which includes Belletrist‘s March book pick, The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan.
The actress Emma Roberts started the Instagram book club Belletrist with her close friend Karah Preiss in March 2017. “It’s one of my favorite ways to engage with my followers,” Ms. Roberts said. “Talking about books just adds so much more substance to your online interactions.”
Producing Belletrist is now Ms. Preiss’s full-time job, and the company has adaptations in development at Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max. At first, Ms. Preiss said, people didn’t understand Belletrist. “Everyone was like ,‘What’s an Instagram book club?’ Instagram is on your phone,” she said.
But the format has thrived in quarantine. “Finding community in digital spaces is really what Instagram is best suited for,” Ms. Preiss said, adding that she thinks online book talks will remain popular for people in suburban and rural areas. “Unless you live in a major city, you can’t go to a reading every night.”
Instagram data has shown “a significant spike” in #bookstagram and reading content during the pandemic, according to Eva Chen, the platform’s director of fashion partnerships, and it skyrockets during the first week of every month, when new titles are announced on feeds like Reese’s Book Club and Well-Read Black Girl.
Before the pandemic, influencers might have documented their escapes to luxury hotels or tropical getaways. Now many are posting escapist or socially progressive literature to engage with their fans.
“Especially in the last few years, people are using Instagram in a much more well-rounded way to show all the different aspects of their lives,” said Ms. Chen, herself an author who routinely shares snaps of young adult titles. “I stare at a screen for 12 hours a day as part of my job,” she said. “I cannot go to bed without reading or touching a physical print book.”
According to Ms. Preiss, that was part of the intention behind Belletrist: “We always kind of wanted to make reading and literary life feel as sexy and aspirational as fashion and beauty.”