New York Public Library Makes Instagram Useful, Turns it Into a Kind of eReader

By Tom Pritchard on at

I don't fully understand why Instagram is so popular. I think I have an account, thanks to this job, but I've never actually bothered to use it properly. But it's a big deal to a lot of people, so everyone wanting to grab the attention of its many users is on there. Among them is the New York Public Library, which has announced that it's figured out how to turn the social network into an eReader of sorts.

The new 'Insta-Novels' involve classic books being turned into animated digital books that are published as Instagram Stories. All you need to do to read is hold your finger against the side of the screen and briefly remove it whenever you want to continue on with the story. So it's a bit like turning the page of a book, but with cartoons and without requiring the same level of effort. Alternatively you could just let them play, provided you're able to read quickly enough to keep up.

Corinna Falusi, Partner and Chief Creative Officer of Mother in New York, said:

"Instagram unknowingly created the perfect bookshelf for this new kind of online novel. From the way you turn the pages, to where you rest your thumb while reading, the experience is already unmistakably like reading a paperback novel."

The first Insta-Novel to be released is Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, and is publicly available for everyone to read - not just New York residents with a valid library card. But that's just the start, since the Library has confirmed it will be developing adaptations of Charlotte Perkins' short story The Yellow Wallpaper, and Frank Kafka's The Metamorphosis. It's also been confirmed that each Insta-Novel will stick around as a highlight, meaning there's no time limit on when you can and can't read them.

Officials told the Wall Street Journal that the idea behind this move is to use Instagram to encourage reading, while also promoting the New York public library brand. NYPL’s chief branch library officer, Christopher Platt, also said “We want people to understand that libraries aren’t just those brick-and-mortar places full of dusty books.” Which is true. Libraries have computers in them, and often let you borrow DVDs. My local library even rents out toys, but you have to pay for that.

This is actually a very good idea, and it would make sense for more libraries and publishers to try this sort of thing. Just don't be lazy and post pictures of physical book pages on Instagram. [Wall Street Journal | Engadget]