I’ve already expostulated on the merits of physical books over eBooks and Kindle editions, but a recent announcement has bought a new contender into the fray.
The New York Public Library has recently announced that it is creating Instagram novels to attract young people and get them into books. Partnering with creative agency Mother in New York, the library is creating a unique solution that might just help the young to get into books.
Its first offering is an adaptation of Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and the Instagram version, unlike normal stories on the site, will be available for the foreseeable future, as opposed to 24 hours, as stories usually are.
Other social media sites already have literary themed accounts or ideas, including Twitter, where there are numerous accounts dedicated to one-line stories, quotations from famous authors or short reviews. Facebook also has numerous literature themed accounts and there are literally hundreds if not thousands of literary memes on the Internet, but this is the first time that books have been serialised in such a specific way. Obviously aimed at getting a younger generation, who are hooked on social media, into literature, this is an innovative means of going about it.
So, in the form of a gateway post between social media and real literature, it is my hope that these new Insta-books will pave the way for young people to find new favourites and learn about authors they had previously never even thought about. Rather than phasing out actual reading, as some people believe this might cause, I hope that it will simply be another way of getting readers to find out about the classics by reaching out to them on a platform they’re already familiar with, and leading them straight into the open arms of their local library.
While I don’t believe that Instagram books will ever replace the thrill and enjoyment of actual reading, and physical books in particular, it’s certainly a great idea to get young people, particularly the generation that has been bought up hooked on social media, hooked on books, and if the New York Public Library’s idea works then more power to them. In the same way that once-upon-a-time the way to get kids into books was to host readings or use special editions to entice them, now social media is the way forward, and I’m all for progress if it gets more people into literature.