To encourage reading, the New York Public Library posts classics as ‘Insta Novels’

The New York Public Library launched a ‘sounded like a good idea at the time’ social media program called Insta Novels that puts classic books on the ’Gram.


August 23, 2018

The New York Public Library has officially launched ‘Insta Novels,’ a feature that adapts great books like Alice in Wonderland to extended Instagram stories that read like e-books (check it out here).

Given the library’s limited resources, the program is a good effort to engage socially native users — even if it doesn’t quite make sense.

From grammar to ’Grammer

In order to fulfill its mission ‘to provide access to information,’ the NYPL must increasingly turn to new information formats. The NYPL first offered e-book rentals in 2005, and now stocks 300k free e-books. 

But, young readers scroll through Instagram more than they browse the Kindle store. So, the library wants to put books where kids will actually read them: Instagram.

Bookin’ on a budget

Unlike other educational institutions like National Geographic that have millions to invest in social media strategy, the NYPL is a nonprofit with limited money to spend on social influence. 

The entire NYPL system has a budget of $345.9m and annual expenses of $342.228m — leaving just $3.67m to improve 92 branches for 17m annual visitors. But, thanks to pro bono creative help, the NYPL developed the entire ‘Insta Novels’ program with just $10k.

Insta Novels lets users read classics by holding their thumb down to read and releasing it to advance — like an e-reader, but a lot worse. But hey, before everyone fell in love with Dewey’s Decimal System, they probably called him crazy, too…

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