Twitter is an immensely popular social network in Japan. If you want to keep up, then it’s a great place to be. The usage of Twitter is very simple, 280 characters to express yourself, so there are countless ways to use the service. I want to focus on a particular subculture within Japanese language Twitter, the reading account, or the interestingly named 読書垢 (dokusho aka).
Why the Strange Name?
If you know Japanese, but are not already familiar with Twitter reading accounts, you may wonder why the word 垢 (dirt) is used. This is only used phonetically, as an abbreviation for “account” (aka). You may wonder why people don’t just use アカ to avoid confusion, but you have to remember, you only get 280 characters, so it’s best to save space in your ＃読書垢 hashtag!
What Can You Post?
There is no official thing called a reading account, so you have to broadcast your intention to create one through the content of your posts, profile, and display name.
First of all, if you are using Twitter in a language other than Japanese and you would like to create a Japanese reading account, I would suggest creating a new account just for that purpose. Stick to only using one language, and tweet mostly about books.
You will need to choose a display name, which you can change at any time. You can append @読書垢 or @読書 to your display name to share your intention. Create a profile to match by emulating the format that other people with reading accounts are using.
You can let other users know you now have a reading account by a quick introduction that includes, “読書垢作りました” meaning, “I made a Japanese reading account.” You will want to have the following hashtag in such a post and also in your profile:
#読書好きな人と繋がりたいI want to connect with other book lovers
This is a hashtag you can use when you are getting established and trying to build up followers.
The next thing you will want to do after creating your account and introducing yourself is to think of 10 books you have enjoyed reading lately and post them as a list with the hashtag #名刺代わりの小説10選(10 novels serving as my business card). It okay to include English or other language books. There are many people who are into foreign literature, but it is best to write the names and titles in Japanese. This gives people an idea of what kind of books you read, so they can decide whether to follow you or not. You can pin this post so people will see it if they tap into your profile.
Once you are all set up, you can start adding tweets. The most basic activity you can do with a reading account is to tweet your impression of a book right after you finish reading it. You can tag these impressions with #読了 (dokuryou). It’s a good way to share what you are reading. Also, if you are looking for a new book to read, it is helpful to search this tag. It also makes it easy to look back and see what you have read. In the search bar, if you type “from:@<your_handle> #読了” then select “Latest”, you can look back on what you have read.
You don’t need to have an image, but I think it makes the tweet more engaging. Many people post a photo of the cover of their book, but I mostly read on Kindle so that wouldn’t be very interesting. I usually try to find the best stock image that makes me think of the book from a site with licenses that allow you to use the images for free, such as Pexels.com. This way I can associate an image with the book for both my post and in my mind when I’m trying to remember what I have read.
You can tweet about other reading-related things as well. Many people tweet pictures of their book along with the food or drink they enjoy it with. Book hauls from Bookoff or other bookstores are also popular. Of course, pictures of bookshelves and images of amazing bookstores or libraries are also fair game. As with anything, the key is to be creative.
Bungaku YouTuber Belle
Browsing people’s reading accounts you may notice the tag #のベルズ. This is a reference to 文学YouTuberベル. Her channel is extremely engaging, and she introduces lots of great information about books and book-related topics. She does talk quite fast, like most people on YouTube, but she is especially fast when reading the descriptions on book jackets, so I have to pause and read to keep up with her. If you’re like me and read a lot more than you listen to Japanese, her channel is a good way to make a connection between reading and listening. Also, she is engaged with her followers in social media including Twitter, so if you use the #のベルズ tag on your #読了 tweet, you may get aリプ (reply) from her!
Unlike what I hear about Twitter in general, the community of Japanese book accounts is very friendly and supportive. For example, people often ask followers if including other information in their reading account is acceptable. For example, if someone also likes movies, they may send a tweet asking their followers if they would be interested in tweets about movies as well, and most often positive replies such as, “I would love to know what kind of movies you recommend” come back.
To be considerate to others, there are some things people add to their profile to show their intentions. For example, フォロバします means that they intend to follow back the users that follow them. 無言フォロー失礼します means when they follow people, they may not like and comment on your posts that often.
Another example of the politeness level seen in book accounts is people replying to a post including the phrase, フォロワー外失礼します. This is a way of saying, “I realize that as someone who does not follow you, it may be rude to reply”. I have seen this shortened to F失 before by people trying to save space.
In general, I’m not very engaged in the platform, but I can see many people encouraging each other, not only in their reading life but for challenges they are facing in real life.
Many people seem to use Twitter reading accounts as a way to connect to other readers when they don’t find people with shared interests in their actual life. Most people seem to be more comfortable engaging anonymously and don’t use their real names. While in many cases, this has been known to encourage people to say horrible things on Twitter, in most cases related to Japanese book accounts I have seen, it instead encourages people to be themselves.
Last of all, if you end up deciding to create a Japanese reading account on Twitter, feel free to send me a tweet!