A passion for reading with bookstagrammer @basicbsguide

Katie – aka @basicbsguide – is passionate about reading. She began using Instagram to share that passion some time ago. I’ve known Katie since she was a baby – and she’s one inspiring woman! Today, she’s sharing her story.

Why did you start blogging about or featuring books?

To be honest it was quite accidental.  I was recovering from a battle with breast cancer and was looking for an outlet to share my story and also talk about my favorite hobby – reading!  I soon found out that there was a warm and welcoming community of book lovers and I haven’t looked back since.

What type of books appeal to you and why?

I try my best to read diversely and over the past year have let mood dictate my reading life, but the stories that stay with me the longest are the ones that make me feel deeply and understand humanity and situations that are often unfamiliar to me.  I want to be a better person and I think through stories we can make strides towards that.

Do you concentrate on a specific genre? If so, can you tell us a bit about your passion for that genre.

For quite a while I was a thriller junkie and that got old very quickly.  I can only handle so many unreliable narrators.  Now, I tend to spread the love around and dabble in historical fiction, contemporary romance, literary fiction and lately nonfiction.

Who are your readers and followers? How do you engage with them?

My largest and most interactive following is on Instagram.  I post daily where I share reviews, feature upcoming releases and often follow along in book challenge prompts from other “Bookstagrammers”.  I also share quite a bit of my breast cancer journey and life in my Instagram stories and have a monthly story selfie challenge, where I encourage others to show their face.  Social media can be a place that people tend to hide behind the account so I’m trying to encourage people to make deeper connections.

If you have a blog, what features does it offer? For example, ‘best of’ lists, author interviews, a book rating system.

I don’t have a blog as of yet but I often wonder if I’m better suited for the blogging world.  I love sharing my story, inspiring others and having meaningful conversations.  Right now, Instagram is the place to be for the conversations and interactions.

What ways do you use to attract new readers and followers?

I host the occasionally giveaway for a new and upcoming release, consistently engage in others posts and reviews and again host my weekly selfie challenge.

How do you interact with authors and publicists?

This has changed greatly over the past couple of years.  I have now built great relationships with publicists so many of the books that I’m interested are showing up for consideration as opposed to me searching them out.  I love interacting with authors and would love to help promote and read every book but we know that’s not possible. I’m careful in my acceptance of review copies as not every book is meant for me.  I do have a little free library and many authors have sent me copies to put in there, which I’m happy to do.  When I read a book, I’m passionate about, I usually reach out to the author and publisher to try to figure out a way I can let a wider audience know about the book.  I’m a champion for authors and books I fall in love with.

What trends or changes have you noticed in the book world?

Over the past year, Instagram has become a bit saturated with book reviewers.  Everyone is wanting the “free books” and has forgotten why they even starting blogging and reviewing in the first place.  I’m hopeful that the true book lovers will stick around for the long run. I also think bloggers and authors are taking a step back from blogging and joining the Bookstagram community.

If you could wave your magic wand, what would you change about the book industry?

I think one of my biggest complaints is when the marketing of a book is way off base.  I saw this most recently with Lisa Taddeo’s novel, Three Women.  I was fortunately able to see past the marketing and found great value in the women’s stories but I think for most it was difficult to get past what they expected going in.

Thanks so much, Katie. Truly appreciate you sharing your thoughts and insights. Katie’s interview is part of a series on book bloggers and bookstagrammers. Stay tuned for more about those who share their passion for reading with others. 


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

Because Reading is Better With Friends

Mark Watkins is a serial entrepreneur, passionate reader, and creator of the Bookship app, recently shortlisted by The Bookseller for BookTech Company of the Year. As creator of a social reading app, Mark knows more than a thing of two about the topic, so I invited him to add his perspective today on the blog.

Because Reading is Better with Friends by Mark Watkins

Books have always been social. Whether it’s discussing a book in your book club, or just chatting about the latest bestseller at a cocktail party, people love to talk about books. But reading has rarely been social — the experience of reading is typically solitary.

Mobile phones and social media have made most every other activity of life social. Social media is awash in book-related content, from Goodreads reviews to Instagram book cover snapshots and #fridayreads on Twitter. But while that content may inspire you to read a particular book, it usually doesn’t enhance either your relationships or the reading experience itself.

Increasingly people hunger for authentic engagement and meaningful interactions with their friends, family and co-workers. Books provide a natural context for deepening relationships.

I recently read Dune with my son, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City with my daughter, and Wind, Sand and Stars with a dear friend. I read books I wouldn’t have otherwise read, got more from the books I would have read anyway, and deepened my relationships with people I care about.

With those experiences in mind, I created Bookship, a social reading app, so you can share your reading experiences with your family, friends and co-workers, and build deeper relationships through books.

I define Social Reading as the act of collaboratively reading a book with other people, sharing thoughts and experiences along the way. That includes, but is certainly not limited to, traditional book clubs. While writing reviews on a site such as Goodreads is a social act, it’s not what I have in mind here.

A Social Reading experience provides benefits that solo reading does not:

  • It creates and enriches relationships through a shared reading experience
  • It increases knowledge and perspective — other readers will bring knowledge to a book I may not have (especially true for historical fiction!)
  • Gentle peer pressure helps you finish (& start!) hard books

Book clubs have traditionally filled this need. By some estimates 2% of England and 5 million Americans have belonged to a book club. But book clubs have shortcomings. They often devolve into “wine clubs” — books being the pretext for getting together, but only a fraction of the meeting devoted to discussing the book. Many of the thoughts, emotions and reactions are lost between the time the book is read and when the meeting occurs. Often some people cannot attend, and friends separated by distance can’t participate. Because of time limits, not everyone can share their viewpoint to their satisfaction.

Existing solutions

Readers of A Writer of History may have seen these previous posts describing past social reading solutions.

A new generation of services are providing for variants of social reading, with varying degrees of success. Wattpad is a wildly successful social reading & storytelling website/app, with a community of 45 million people. Readers comment “inline” on the text of short stories posted there; authors compete for popularity and feedback. But while engagement is quite high, the content is mostly short stories proprietary to Wattpad; books per se aren’t available, so sharing your experience reading All The Light We Cannot See isn’t possible. Glose is a social eReader app where readers can highlight their favorite passages from books and share with friends. But it requires a proprietary eReader — one has to buy one’s books from Glose — and it is eBook-only. In both cases, comments are typically publicly available, not confined to a private chat area. Book Club by Book Movement (an app for book clubs) is focused more on logistics (scheduling meetings, voting on books) than on discussion, and is only available on iOS, leaving more than half of us unable to participate.

Some common themes emerge: an insistence on a digital / eBook format, proprietary readers and content, and public commentary.

This isn’t how we read. What of the 60% of us who read physical books? Those who get their books from the library? The growing number of us listening to audio books? Those who want a private conversation? We are left out.

We developed Bookship to address these needs. Recognizing the ubiquity of mobile phones and current social media trends, we designed Bookship to be mobile-first, camera friendly, and emoji ready, and available for all major platforms — iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire devices — yet accessible for those reading physical books.

Bookship acts like a virtual book club. Invite people by email and start reading together — it doesn’t matter whether they’re reading the eBook, a physical book or an audiobook. Share thoughts, photos, quotes, and links, and reply to your friends’ posts. You’ll get notifications when your friends post and reminders to keep up with your reading.

We make inventive use of the camera on mobile phones to bridge the gap between the physical world of books and the digital world of social media. For example, you can extract quotes or create virtual highlights from a physical book just by taking a picture of the page.

Bookship can be downloaded at https://www.bookshipapp.com (it’s free), and if you’re interested in more, there’s a short video here: https://youtu.be/1fg20AgXI5U.

Reading is better with friends. Books and social reading have the chance to bring people together in new and interesting ways. We hope Bookship can be a part of that.

Many thanks, Mark, for sharing your passion for reading and your thoughts on social reading. I hope Bookship has great success. By the way, when I asked Mark about the name, he said Bookship, as in “relationship” or “friendship”, but for books :)”

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.