Search Instagram for #shelfie and you’ll find over 535,000 images, most of them depicting books. But what is a “shelfie”?

In 2014, the Wall Street Journal identified the shelfie – a twist on the selfie – as “Instagram’s next craze.” You won’t find “shelfie” in a standard dictionary (yet), but some internet sources define it as an image of artfully styled shelves, often but not always including books.

The Summer of Romance does not require artful styling!

The top definition on Urban Dictionary credits Rick Riordan with coining the term: “A picture or portrait of your bookshelf. Showcasing literature IN ALL IT’S GLORY!”

Summer of Romance shelfies do not need to depict books on shelves! Thank you to Shallowreader for this market box #loveyourshelfie showing Angela Devine’s The Perfect Man

And the Macmillan Dictionary website offers two crowdsourced definitions:

  • a picture which is taken, usually by a smartphone or a similar device, of somebody with a bookshelf or bookshelves behind them
  • a picture which is taken, usually by a smartphone or a similar device, of a bookshelf or bookshelves
Starring in your Summer of Romance shelfies is entirely optional! Thank you to Erica Hayes for this shelfie of one of our two Margaret Way titles, snapped at the The Green Shed, ACT

The Summer of Romance has adopted the “shelfie” as a research tool to collect images of contemporary Australian Mills & Boon romance novels “on location.” One of our guiding principles is not to anticipate this project’s findings in advance; to quote the American sociologist Howard S. Becker, “It’s better not decide before you begin [research] what the ‘important’ things are.” Therefore, we have no strict rules for the content, composition, or quality of shelfies for the Summer of Romance. In short, a #loveyourshelfie photograph depicts one or more of our 50 selected books where ever they are found.

How many shelfies will you share this summer?