You can now read classic novels on Instagram Stories
New York Public Library is bringing a series of famed classics to Instagram, but is it a good thing?
Instagram Stories may have changed the way we socialise, but it may now change the way we consume literature. New York Public Library is using the social media platform as a new way of bringing iconic books to an even bigger audience, publishing digitised versions on the Snapchat-like feature.
First up is Lewis Carroll’s famed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which is already live on the @nypl’s Instagram Stories now with illustrations by well-known designer Magoz. To prevent each page from disappearing too fast, rest your thumb on the lower right part of the screen to hold the page, and lift your thumb to turn the page. The text is included in full, along with animations and illustrations. Each book will be stored within the Highlights feature – which the library is calling a “digital bookshelf” – so you won’t miss an opportunity to read a classic.
Also coming to the Instagram Stories series in the next few months are Kafka’s novella, Metamorphosis, with illustrations by César Pelizer, as well as The Yellow Wallpaper, a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and illustrated by Buck.
The move raises a lot of questions – does it signal the death of libraries, thousands of which have already been closed in recent years? Public libraries have suffered with the rise of digital devices and government funding cuts. Or is it the beginning of a new form of library, one that democratically exists online for all with a smart phone to access? Indeed, it’s not unwise of NYPL to adapt to where people are consuming the bulk of their daily news and information.
Arguably, the ability to read books on Instagram adds depth and value to a social media platform that has recently been linked to a rise in mental health issues, such as anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. If we are going to use it, then at least escaping into a good book is a positive by-product.
The pitfalls? It won’t be easy to find your page if you lose it, although presumably NYPL will find a solution for this before long. Screengrabs of the books will also doubtlessly be screenshot and re-shared on individual Instagram pages as a demonstration of intelligence, regardless of whether or not the book itself has actually been read. It’s also worth noting that our attention spans are shorter than ever – measured at a jaw-droppingly short eight seconds in 2016 – will we be able to focus on an entire book in this format, rather than an ebook or paper book? Time will tell.
Harpers Bazaar, By Ella Alexander,