Poets & Writers

Instapoets Prove Powerful in Print

Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has spawned whole new genres of visual entertainment. From tattoo artists to cookie decorators, savvy users of the photo- and video-sharing platform have attracted viral followings that often galvanize lucrative commercial ventures offline. The same goes for poetry: Not only has the platform served as a launchpad for some of the most widely read poets in recent history, but it has also helped them sell thousands—sometimes millions—of books.

In fact, books by “Instapoets” constituted nearly half of all poetry book sales in 2017, which, according to NPD BookScan, nearly doubled since 2016. Leading the sales roster was Rupi Kaur, whose debut collection, (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2015), sold, also published by Andrews Mc-Meel, debuted at the No. 1 spot on the paperback best-seller list when it was released in October 2017; it stayed there for twenty weeks and has sold more than 1.2 million copies. Kaur’s poetry epitomizes the prevailing Instapoetic style, with its epigrammatic brevity, plain language, and empowering messages, and she also supplements her verse with glamorous selfies and hand-drawn illustrations. But while Kaur may be the highest-grossing poet of the moment, she is hardly alone in making the successful transition from social media to print; twelve of the twenty best-selling poets of 2017 got their start on Instagram.

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