The Instagram Accounts Feeding Our Appetite for Rare Books

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As our favourite digital channel becomes increasingly dominated by analogue reading material, we round up a few of the best

We’ve long been vocal supporters of IDEA, the pioneering Dover Street Market-based bookseller founded by Angela Hill and David Owens that transformed the industry when, some years ago, they took to Instagram to champion their wares to a global audience. In so doing they instantly made incredibly niche and difficult-to-source publications available to all, and have since established an incomparable reputation as the tastemakers to keep up with. Just try to walk down the street without coming across a black tote emblazoned with either Winona, Juergen, or DISCO.

After innovation follows impersonation, of course, but when it comes to book distribution – a corner of old media that at one point looked set to buckle under the weight of the new – the channel has been truly revolutionary. In the six or so years since Instagram launched, bookshops, stockists and archivists have flocked to its grid with the crème de la crème of their rummaging discoveries. Nowadays, you don’t need to spend decades head-down in flea markets to dig up the Hockney you need to complete your collection – you just need to keep your eyes peeled online. Might this be the ultimate in old and new collaborating for good?

So indebted are we to the bookstores, collectors and distributors utilising the channel to share news of their goods, we decided to gather up three of the best – Big Ego Books, Antifurniture, and Rare Books Paris. Neither your coffee table nor your feed will ever look the same again.

Big Ego Books is a Sydney-based bookseller specialising, in its own words, in “rare and interesting titles for smart people”. As far as the books themselves go, Big Ego has made retro but utterly timeless tomes that ooze a bygone era into its bread and butter – from Houses Architects Design For Themselves and Jenny Kee’s 1990 woollen wonder Knits From Nature, to the irresistible 1975 book Cats Around the Zodiac. It’s a varied and endlessly satisfying collection of books that you’d otherwise assume had disappeared into the ether, so you’ll understand our pleasure in recognising that this isn’t the case. What’s more, they ship worldwide.


‘Out of print’ has ostensibly come to replace ‘you’re not on the list’ as signifying the ultimate in unattainable cool, so it makes sense that Rare Books Paris, which serves up nothing but out-of-print magazines and publications, feels like the ultimate in book exclusivity. Fortunately, the account is also dedicated to making such tomes universally accessible in digital form if not in physical, posting multiple shots of inside spreads for all to enjoy – making it worth a follow if only for the smattering of glimspes into rare and beautiful books it will add to your feed. 

Antifurniture is a self-described ‘mobile bookstore and image research lab’ created by Nelson Harst, combining rare and vintage printed materials with archive images and artworks to create a veritable melting pot of contemporary visual culture. Expect to see excerpts from publications you’d never even dare to dream of – Japanese tattoo books next to a collection called Teenage Smokers – interspersed with artwork comprising photographs, illustration, furniture design and painting. Harst issues the occasional hint as to where he's set up shop, be it on 74th street or elsewhere, which is always worth heeding. You never know what you might find.