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You Can Now Read Books On Instagram


More than 500 million people log on to Instagram each day. The social media app now allows you to scroll through image after image with a function called Stories, and that gave an idea to people at an institution with plenty of stories.

LYNN LOBASH: Many of the people that I talked to when this first launched in 2018 were very surprised. Like, what is the library doing on Instagram?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Lynn Lobash, manager of reader services at the New York Public Library. She says her venerable institution has been innovating to attract readers for more than a hundred years. Now it's posted five works of literature - stories, novellas and a poem - on Instagram.

LOBASH: "Alice In Wonderland," "The Yellow Wallpaper," "The Raven," "Metamorphosis" and "A Christmas Carol."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The Insta Novel texts are the same as what you'd read in a musty volume from the public library stacks. But thanks to design firm Mother NYC, they also offer a visual reward. Wax rolls down a candlestick on the screen as readers page through the Charles Dickens Christmas classic. The famous nevermore flashes in bold face as the verses of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" fly by.

British blogger Cara Curtis says Insta Novels validated her social media addiction. One of our staffers reads her blog post here.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Reading) Even though I might not read a whole book via Insta Novels, I did feel inspired to pick up a physical book. Reading the snippet from Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland" reminded me of how much I enjoy getting absorbed into a book, which might have been NYPL's plan all along.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It was exactly what Lynn Lobash was hoping for.

LOBASH: The thing that I like the most about this project is that it would produce this moment where you would, you know, be looking at your feed and say, oh, yeah - and sort of sink into the book and be like, I remember - I really like reading. Like, I remember this feeling. Maybe I hadn't done it in a while. And then that surprise would lead you to, you know, read something else. And so this, like, catching fire of the habit again was my favorite part of the project.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lobash says Insta Novels have gotten 300,000 reads so far. This summer, the designers won Webby Awards for best feature and the best use of Instagram Stories. But sorry, if you find "Ulysses" or "War And Peace" a long slog, no plans yet to transform them into Insta Novels. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.