January 22, 2022

Online Novels: The New York Public Library Introduces “Insta Novels” (Full Text, Illustrated Literature Posted on Instagram)

From NYPL: 

The [Insta Novels] program, created by Mother [an independent advertising and creative agency] in New York and developed in partnership with the New York Public Library, aims to make some of the greatest stories ever written more accessible to every New Yorker and Instagram user.

The program will launch on the Library’s Instagram account (@nypl) on August 22 with a newly digitized version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

The novel is illustrated by well-known designer Magoz (@magoz).  Mother searched for designers with significant presence on Instagram in creating the program.


In the coming months, two other novels in the program will be released on the Library’s account: “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman illustrated by Buck (@buck_design), and The Metamorphosis, a novella by Franz Kafka illustrated by César Pelizer (@cesarpelizer).

Here’s how it works: the full book, short story, or novella is uploaded into Instagram “Stories,” complete with unique and engaging design elements. The Instagram-specific design includes stills and videos that mirror the unique layouts of the original works. The background is a warmer white that’s easy to read on screen, and the font is Georgia, a typeface that pays homage to the history of the written word in both print and digital (it was one of the first serif fonts ever designed for screen to make long form text more pleasing and legible).

Readers rest their thumbs on the screen to hold the page. They lift their thumbs to turn the page. The thumb holder also doubles as a flip book.: if a reader lets the book run they see an animation.

Using the “Highlights” feature, each novel is saved as a work of digital literature that readers can access  at any time. This essentially turns “Highlights” into a digital bookshelf.

“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,” said Corinna Falusi, Partner and Chief Creative Officer, Mother in New York. “We have to promote the value of reading, especially with today’s threats to American system of education.”

“This project is directly in line with the Library’s mission is to make the world’s knowledge accessible to all,” said Carrie Welch, The New York Public Library’s Chief of External Relations. “It’s appropriate that one of the works we’re using is The Metamorphosis, because in collaboration with Mother, we are completely transforming the way people look at this popular social media platform, and reimagining the way people access the classics.”

Read the Complete Launch Announcement

Direct to NYPL and “Insta Novels” on Instagram

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.