If you’re a parent wondering how you get your kids to read books when they’d far rather be using Instagram, the New York Public Library thinks it may have the answer …

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The WSJ reports that the library is, somewhat bizarrely, turning the Instagram app into an ebook reader.

The new service, dubbed “Insta Novels,” will be available to all Instagram users starting Wednesday, regardless of whether they have a NYPL card or live in New York City […]

The technology works in such a way that when readers are on the Instagram app, they hold the page of a book by resting their thumb on the screen, library officials said. They turn the page by lifting their thumb.

The experience is “unmistakably like reading a paperback novel,” Corinna Falusi, Mother in New York’s partner and chief creative officer, said in a statement.

The library isn’t exactly rushing the project. Right now, it’s limited to one book – Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – and so far has plans for only two more.

In the months that follow, it plans to add […] Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” and Franz Kafka’s novella, “The Metamorphosis.”

Ad agency Mother donated staff resources and time to make the project happen, suggesting that the initiative may be more of an awareness campaign for the library than a long-term project. New York residents have, since 2005, been able to borrow ebooks from the library.

Instagram is a free download from the App Store.


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