A Gimmick Does Not a Book Publishing Platform Make (Instagram)

sperling instagram bookCreators have published their stories in just about every manner you can imagine, including paper books, the web, paint on a wall, and even a postage stamp, and now one ad exec is going to “publish” his book on Instagram.

AdWeek, MediaPost, and Chipchick report that marketer Jason Sperling is releasing his new book on the photo-sharing platform. Starting later this month, Sperling is going to publish his new book, Look at Me When I’m Talking to You, one page at a time on Instagram over the course of 160 days. Each post will be either an illustration or an animation depicting that particular section of the book, and it will be accompanied by caption containing the book’s text.

Sperling told AdWeek that:

The inspiration for the book’s idea comes from being immersed in this “mess of opportunity” every day, as well as from watching the way the industry changed so drastically since I first got into advertising. It comes from the day-to-day trials and frustrations of trying to create content and social objects that people will willingly engage with. And it comes from the constant strategizing of how to stand out, stand apart and increase our chances of success.

The first page is going to be posted on 25 June, and he has already posted excerpts.

So does this count as publishing a book?

Technically, yes, but I don’t think this experiment is going to be terribly successful. While Instagram would be great for publishing a graphic novel, and I can see how it would make sense to publish screenshot blog posts there, Sperling’s experiment has convinced me that you can’t publish a text-based book there.

I’ve been reading the excerpts this morning – or rather, I’ve been trying to read the excerpts. The text was uploaded as captions, and the Instagram website really doesn’t make it easy to read a long caption. Even a 200-word excerpt is inconvenient due to the tiny window size:

sperling instagram book

To be fair, it does look a lot better in Padgram on my iPad (I would check a smartphone but Google play would not cooperate this morning). But even in Padgram, the lack of formatting detracted from the reading experience.

In short, yes you can publish a book on Instagram, just like you can publish a book 140 characters at a time on Twitter. But neither platform is designed for this purpose, so using them this way is more of a gimmick than anything.

Sperling would be better off, IMO, to publish the book section by section on Facebook. That site might be known as a social network but its platform is more than capable of supporting long text posts (I’ve seen thousand word updates).

You could feasibly publish a book on Facebook. In fact, I bet that’s been done any number of times, which could explain why Sperling is on Instagram (there wouldn’t be any novelty value to help generate attention for the book).

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

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