The Instagram Bookstore: Reading Novels in 2020 and Beyond

When’s the last time you binged an entire book on a Saturday? Probably not in a long time. But I’ll bet you can tell me the last show you binged. And I’m sure it wasn’t long ago.

Reading is the “not-so-secret” secret weapon of most high-achievers. Everyone knows they should read more, but rarely do people do anything about it.

Age-old advice from Stephen King would be to just carry a book around with you everywhere you go and crack it open every moment you get. Tim Urban will tell you to create a habit of reading 30 minutes a day and you’ll finish more than 1,000 books in your lifetime.

But this advice won’t cut it for most people. Especially if they own Instagram.

The Instagram Bookstore

In 2018, the average Instagram user spent 53 minutes on Instagram per day. That’s over 6 hours a week! Instagram (and Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.) has a stranglehold on people’s brains.

This is why the New York Public Library is going straight to Instagram in order to carve out some time for reading.

In August 2018, Instagram followers of the New York Public Library were tapping through their Insta Stories when something unexpected showed up: the full text of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, designed for a small screen, with small animations that brought the story to life as you flipped.

The project, known as Insta Novels, is part of the NYPL’s goal to reach beyond its walls and convince more people to read books.

Katharine Schwab, Fast Company

I went to NYPL on Instagram and flipped through The Raven. It was quite enjoyable. The animations and style were enticing. There weren’t too many words on each page to make the task feel strenuous. (See it for yourself below)

NYPL figured out how books, one of the oldest pieces of content, could fit the Instagram mold. More than 300,000 have already flipped through the Insta Novels – which I consider a huge success. However I think the sky’s the limit here.

You can never read too much. And I’m anticipating that people are hungry for more books to be published this way.

It’ll be interesting to see if Instagram becomes another format that authors pay attention to and create for.

I remember when audiobooks got really popular about 18 months ago and many more new authors started marketing their audiobooks as a great feature.

Instagram-produced books might be another format that publishers keep in mind when publishing a book. Essentially creating an entire bookstore on Instagram… The Instagram Bookstore.

A book summarization service like Blinkist is perfectly aligned to produce (with the help of designers) loads of books in the Instagram Bookstore format.

A Fresh Take on Reading

The fact that you read my articles every day (or at least when they grab attention) means that reading probably doesn’t scare you. Therefore, the Instagram Bookstore may seem completely unnecessary to you.

“Why can’t people just sit still and focus on a book for an hour?”

I’m afraid the answer is more complex than we’d hope.

Poor literacy truly is an epidemic. It may not have affected you, but it’s real. Especially amongst the youth. In 2013, it was found that 64% of 8th graders were reading below their grade level.

My younger brother (currently 17) struggles to pick up books. It took Gucci Mane to create a book for him to actually be interested in reading. It was only for a moment, but it’s a start.

This is why I love seeing new ways to engage readers. Companies like Literati, which is a subscription book club for young kids, create 21st Century solutions to literacy issues.

Collectively, reading is under siege by Netflix, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Disney+, and the countless other visually-stimulating platforms within arms reach.

Reading needs to step up its game. And I see the Instagram Bookstore as one of many great, necessary advances to come.