New York Public Library Just Released “Insta Novels” So You Can Read While Watching Instagram Stories

The New York Public Library is expanding its reach with a newly launched initiative, “Insta Novels,” available to anyone with an Instagram app. Through the partnership with New York ad agency Mother, the New York Public Library is taking classic works of fiction and transforming them into animated Instagram Stories.

The first novel released to Instagram is Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel, Alice in Wonderland. The surreal Wonderland-inspired visuals were created by conceptual illustrator Magoz. The text is included in full, enhanced throughout with bits of animation and modern illustrations.

To read, simply view the Instagram Story and hold your finger down to stay on a page and complete reading the text. You can then lift your finger to let the Story switch to the next page. A nice touch — you will find a small area in the bottom right corner marked as the spot to hold your finger, so you are not blocking any text on the screen.

The aim is “to make some of the world’s most classic pieces of literature more accessible to the masses”, according to a statement from Mother and NYPL. “Instagram unknowingly created the perfect bookshelf for this new kind of online novel,” added Mother partner and chief creative officer Corinna Falusi.

It is an ingenious use of technology, bringing literature to a digital platform that 400 million people are using every day. “Preserving the value of education and reading, especially in today’s political climate, is something we should all try and be more conscious of,” says Falusi. “So while, yes, it’s nice to see Instagram Stories of cute puppy pics or vacation sunsets, why not demand more from your social media platform? Why not turn it into a tool for greater public access to literature?”

Backgrounds on the text pages are coloured warm white, rather than the typical bright blue-white of smartphone screens, to be easier on the eyes.

The Georgia typeface was selected because it “pays homage to the history of the written word in both print and digital”, said the statement. “It was one of the first serif fonts ever designed for the screen to make long-form text more pleasing and legible.”

Most stories disappear after 24 hours–but in this case, the NYPL’s Instagram will add all of the digital books to its “highlights” bar, located below information about the account on its main profile page. It turns the NYPL’s Instagram into a digital bookshelf that readers can access at any time.

The program launched Wednesday with part one of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Two other literary classics are queued up to be added over the next few weeks: the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and the novella The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

Head over to the NYPL’s Instagram page to see the whole thing for yourself.