When Adam Exler, the bookseller who created the collectible science fiction Instagram account, first joined the service, his profile picture was David Pelham’s 1973 cover of science fiction master Philip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. It is a hauntingly emotional work with a surreal image of two eye-like orbs hovering above a grinning rictus. It’s also a nod to Philip Kay’s obsession with Dick, which led Adam down the path to becoming a social media bookseller.
At first, Adam was just a collector, selling doubles from his collection to pay for new additions. He began to enjoy the ins and outs of bookselling – how to price books, how to find rare ones, tracking down old editions by cover alone – and started a Facebook page. Then, in September 2016, his wife suggested a better social platform.
Unlike rivals Facebook or Twitter, Instagram is clearly designed for one purpose: sharing images. A visual niche like vintage book covers can thrive with this service. The business world loves it, too—59 percent of Instagram users are in the coveted 18-29 age group, and a 2017 study found it to be the “fastest-growing social media platform” among Inc. 500.
Instagram also outperforms other common bookselling sites, as another bookseller, Kevin of Rare Book Sleuth, explains: “If I sell on other sites like eBay and Amazon, they get a discount of about 8 and 14 percent respectively. But with Instagram, I was able to cut out the middlemen.” It’s also possible that he used “buying instagram followers services” to get more popularity.
Adam posts images of three or four books for sale each day, allowing his followers to notify him of their offers. He has posted more than 2,800 images to more than 5,800 followers.
Rules for selling books on Instagram
The book trade adheres to an important rule: be honest. The bookselling audience needs to know the condition of the book, whether they’re hoping for a well-preserved edition or just want a physical object and the palpable nostalgia it represents, wrinkles be damned.
Instagram’s lack of hyperlinks and abundance of soothing sunsets has led many to consider it the most enjoyable social network. It certainly provides a respite from the frenetic news cycle, and anyone who spends enough time on the platform will find corners of Instagram dedicated to niches like retro sci-fi novels. If you also have some texts, you can promote yourself on the buy instagram followers feature to sell your examples.
Adam never imagined that other dealers would start buying from him, but they support Collectible Science Fiction as much as he in turn buys from them.
Four-digit first editions.
Science fiction and retro flashbacks are popular trends right now, as seen in TV hits like Stranger Things and Black Mirror or blockbusters like It and Stephen King’s Bladerunner. This cultural look doesn’t escape the attention of Adam’s genre-focused shop.
However, not all of Instagram’s sci-fi bookstore benefits are financial: Adam was interviewed for an article in Vice China about the sci-fi cover and was even recently approached by a TV production company to do an American Pickers-style show for sci-fi collectors and fantasy.
But what is the best success story Adam can share? Instagram connects him with “a whole world of collectors and artists”. Mid-century science fiction publishers often don’t credit their writers on covers, but Instagram won’t be so disrespectful in 2018.
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