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The New York Public Library is Turning Classics Into Instagram Stories

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Gizmodo has advocated for libraries as an excellent means of logging off, because a library is a service that lets you “stream” films, music, magazines, books, and all other kinds of media for free.

But now one of the world’s greatest libraries is trying to enrich the social media experience. The New York Public Library just released the first of its InstaNovel series on Instagram Stories. NYPL followers can watch-read the first part of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll on the app. The feature shows the full text of the book, but also includes illustrations by designer Magoz, and animated pages that capture the liveliness of Carroll’s creative page formatting. As anyone who’s used Facebook’s Snapchat clone could assume, lifting a finger from the screen turns the page.


The first part of the InstaNovel version of Alice in Wonderland is about 80 pages, but it’s a quick read—the perfect length for a subway commute. NYPL says it plans to release the second part of the book on Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the service cost the library under $10,000, and that the library’s annual budget is $345.9 million. NYPL worked with ad agency Mother to translate the classic stories into an Instagram-friendly format.


In the next several weeks, the library will release an animated version of the short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which will be illustrated by the designer Buck. That will be followed by Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, with animations by César Pelizer.

Here’s a teaser showing Gregor Samsa after transitioning into a twee bugman.

Carrie Welch, NYPL’s chief external relations officer, said in a statement that the Kafka work represents how the library is “completely transforming the way people look at this popular social media platform, and reimagining the way people access the classics.”

It’s also a nice reminder that books are a great escape from the fresh, new nightmares we awake to every morning.


[New York Public Library, Wall Street Journal]