Shelfies FTW: 5 Reasons Shelfies Are the Next Best Thing

In January, I crowned “shelfie” one of the best words of 2013, in the hopes that the trend would continue into this year. The good news is, it has. The better news is, it’s a hit. This week, stories in the Wall Street Journal , the Daily Mail and Silicon Beat all report a rise in the popularity of “shelfies” on Twitter and Instagram. Not quite a selfie, a shelfie refers to a photo taken of a shelf filled with a person’s belongings. The trend, which is significantly more interesting than my description makes it sound, has been mostly dominated by the display of personal libraries. While some have criticized the shelfie for being self-indulgent and part of society’s growing obsession with documenting our lives pictorially, I personally love this new Instagram trend, for a number of reasons.

1) They’re great for marketing (both your company, and yourself).

Shelfies are a goldmine for interior designers, who make a living out of creating artful arrangements, and book publishers, who make a living out of selling books. Not only do shelfies allow celebrities and marketers to promote their products on a massive scale, it allows them to do it in a way that makes our eyes drool. Regular, non-business people can also use the hashtag to show off their own underrated talents. If you can stack pencils in an unusually creative way or you think your cookbook arrangement is the next big thing, take a shelfie and share it with the world!

2) They encourage reading.

As my old friend Arthur used to say, having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card. With that logic, it would almost be impossible not to have fun when you have a bookshelf. There are almost no downsides to snapping a picture of your personal library, unless your books are somehow incriminating (5 shelves of “How To Rob a Bank” guides) or you have no books at all. Someone suffering from the latter problem might be inspired to start their own collection after seeing all the shelfies online and experiencing FOMO.

3) Book recommendations, anyone?

Why log on to Goodreads when there are hundreds of book titles sitting on your Instagram news feed? Any book remaining on a person’s bookshelf that was good enough to not be sold at a summer yard sale should be good enough for you.

4) They’re a good creative outlet.

In a shelfie article by the Wall Street Journal, one designer described her addiction to shelfies as a way of calming her creative and organizational drive, saying “I’ve always been obsessed with the art of arranging things … it has actually given voice to my neurosis.”

5) They make you feel like a professional photographer, without all the hassle.

One major benefit of shelfies is the ease at which they can be created. You don’t need expensive studio lights and backgrounds to make a good shelfie: just an eye for good arrangements or, at the very least, a pretty shelf.

With summer reading on the horizon and Instagram more popular than ever, I can only hope that “let me take a shelfie” will replace “let me take a selfie” before I’m forced to swear off social media forever.

Featured image via Shutterstock.

  • Kayla Mahone

    I love shelfies! Just seeing what kind of books people enjoy and how diverse their choices can be. You’ve made some great points here like 2-4, especially 4. I’m a sucker for organizing!

  • Merritt Ollinger

    Wow. I am an interior designer and I did not go to college for 4 years to make “artful arrangements.” Nor do I use Instagram for business. There is a vast difference between decorating and designing, regardless of what HGTV stars label themselves. And this just whittled down an entire group of professionals to arranging books. Do your research, residential design is only a small part of the design profession.

    • Ona Luna

      Thanks for this. It’s possibly worse than saying that the people in my field (print and web design) “make things pretty,” as if there’s no other purpose to either profession.

  • Hannah Reed

    Just looked up #shelfie on Instagram. The funniest part is half of them are selfies… they just obviously can’t spell selfie. I have to just laugh. Goodness Gracious.

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