Classic novels available through Instagram.
Insta Novels is a collaboration between the New York Public Library and ad agency Mother. The idea is to get the younger generation to read more literature by making classic novels more accessible and exciting. These Insta Novels are designed to fit into your Instagram stories.
The first book on this digital bookshelf is Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with illustrations by designer Magoz. Lining up next to this classic is Charlotte Perkins Gilam’s The Yellow Wallpaper and Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Here’s the promo:
So it sounds like the NYPL is modernising and trying to be relevant to today’s audiences. But what is the experience actually like?
I logged into my Instagram account for the first time in yonks, went to @NYPL, scrolled down and found the Alice Part 1 and Alice Part 2 icons.
I hit Alice Part 1 and got an introductory animation as per the image on the left below. It took me a bit of fiddling but I eventually worked out you tap on the right side of the screen to go to the next page and tap on the left to go back. You also have to hold your thumb on the bottom right of the screen to stop it from advancing to the next page. (There was a tutorial but I didn’t bother with that.)
Reading in this way was actually not too bad. I would have liked an option to enlarge the font but it was bearable. I don’t know how I’d go reading whole novels in font this small too. That’s one of the fabulous features of my Kindle, I bump up the font size a lot.
Every few pages or so, they decide to throw in an animation. So the image on the far right with the wavy text is the copy winding its way up the screen. I did not like this. It hurt my eyes.
You get Chapters 1-6 in Part 1 and Chapter 7-12 in Part 2.
I will be interested to see the take-up of this type of reading among young people. I admit, while it was an okay reading experience, it still feels like I’m on a device. I wouldn’t read in this format in my bed – I still prefer my big screen Kindle or an actual paper book for that.
Having said that, I could see myself reading chunks of Mansfield Park or The Hobbit via this platform on the train between meetings or while waiting to pick up my child from school.