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Instagram of the Week: @senb00ks 3
via Instagram (@sendb00ks)

@sendb00ks is the Insta account sending vintage books around the world

The book lover’s version of a fashion archive account

Gemma Janes is the brain behind @sendb00ks, the IG-based online library which launched in 2018 after she found herself posting her favourite works of literature to her personal account. Now, Janes sends books to followers around the world, having built up a network of fellow bookworms. “I like the idea of books travelling to different countries and into the hands of many people,” she explains. “I hope Instagram is giving the literary world a new lease of life!”

Picked up from her travels and sourced from remote shops worldwide, the likes of Joan Didion’s Salvador sits alongside Franz Kafka’s The Trial. Capturing the vintage and original covers from some of literature's greatest works, the account is essentially a book lover’s equivalent to a fashion archive account, only for the most part you can likely afford to buy the pieces on show. 

With all the books on the account up for sale, you can also sign up to become a ’reader’ – a scheme which allows followers to sign up to receive a different selected book each month. The premise is simple, but the personal touch is what makes sendb00ks so charming. The book comes with a handwritten note, and a postcard designed by a selected artist (for each book, a different artist is chosen).

Originally from London, model Janes now lives in Paris and has just finished travelling South America. “Having lived in London I was lucky enough to have access to all the incredible charity shops with ever-changing second-hand books for one or two pounds and great conversations with those who volunteered,” she says. “If I was travelling the first thing I would do is find a second-hand bookshop where I could find titles that I recognised.” In fact, the account was born of her travelling: “When I moved house I struggled to find somewhere to store all my books, so on a whim I decided to donate the ones on my shelves to anybody who wanted one,” she explains.

Now with over 6,000 followers and working with publishers like Penguin, Canongate, and Fitzcarraldo, @sendb00ks sent over 1000 books last year. It's not surprising she's amassed such an extensive fanbase, given scrolling through the account offers a few minutes of relief from the overwhelmingly materialistic and superficial depths of social media, akin to squeezing between the shelves of a Parisian vintage book store (only you're actually still in your shitty flat in Zone 4, in bed, having been staring at your phone for three hours). 

The biggest question, though, is what books should we be reading, as selected by the person with one of the best piles of books on IG? “My favourite books are constantly changing. I like simple ones like The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I recently read Pond by Claire Louise Bennett, we will send this to everybody in November. Everybody should read something by Valeria Luiselli. She recently published the Lost Children Archive which is her quest to document the children who go missing trying to cross the Mexican border into the USA. I also think everybody should read something by James Baldwin.”