The New York Public Library is using Instagram Stories to bring animated, digital versions of literary classics to a wider audience. “Insta Novels” launched on 22 August with Alice in Wonderland. Feminist classic short The Yellow Wallpaper and Kafka’s Metamorphosis follow this Autumn. Anyone with an Instagram account can access the works on the Library’s Instagram account (@nypl).
The library worked with creative agency, Mother, who sourced designers with significant presence on Instagram to creating the Insta Novels. Alice is live now, next up are feminist classic short The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman illustrated by Buck (@buck_design), followed by Kafka’s bug paranoia novella The Metamorphosis, illustrated by César Pelizer (@cesarpelizer).
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, or Insta Novel, 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.”