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Hundreds of thousands of people are now reading entire novels on Instagram

Insta Novels - Instagram novels
Image: Insta Novels

Instagram may be the your new book reader, thanks to a new breed of storytelling adapted to an Instagram format.

Launched in August last year, the New York Public Library’s and Mother New York design agency’s new initiative called Insta Novels unexpectedly became a huge success, accumulating an audience of over 300,000 people.

Ever since, the New York Public Library’s Instagram account has been regularly posting literature classics for their followers to devour.

All titles are in the public-domain and, as of today, the books include Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And there is more to come.

The novels are perfectly adapted to an Instagram story format: the text is just the right size and the right font (Georgia!), and the warm, cream-colored background makes it much easier on the eyes than plain white. Small animations, often accompanied by music, pique the reader’s interest and each book is illustrated by a different artist selected specifically to suit its theme.

But perhaps the most memorable feature of Insta Novels is the place to rest your thumb while reading. Since an Instagram story can be only up to 15 seconds long, the readers have to put their thumb somewhere on the right part of the screen for the story to pause it until they’re ready to proceed to the next page.

Mother New York thought this through, however – and supplied each novel with an adorable animation to rest your finger on. In A Christmas Carol, it’s a burning candle that slowly burns down as you tap. In Metamorphosis, it’s a bug crawling in circles. And in Alice in Wonderland, it’s a tea set.

All novels are saved in highlights, so that you can access them even after they disappear from the stories, and longer reads are divided into parts.

“Every single part of the design was tailored to make the story the most entertaining, to make it the most simple to use, and make it the most natural within the environment of Instagram,” Corinna Falusi, Chief Creative Officer at Mother, says.

The goal behind the initiative was to encourage more people to read books – and it seems to work. Ever since its launch in August last year, more than 300,000 people have read Instagram novels, and the NYPL’s account has gained nearly 150,000 new followers.

Insta novels – examples

Instagram novels - The Metamorphosis
Instagram novels - The Raven
Instagram novels - Alice in Wonderland

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