Friday, September 28, 2007

Phoning It In

The novel:

Like many other young Japanese, Rin, 21, punches her mobile phone keys very quickly. Holding her phone with two hands, and moving her thumbs deftly and smoothly, she quickly generates sentences on the small screen.

But unlike others, her main reason for typing on her keitai (mobile phone) is not to send e-mails, text messages or check the Internet. Instead, she writes bestselling novels. Rin is one of the most popular authors in the fast-expanding genre of keitai shosetsu (mobile-phone novels).

....Original novels and other writings released and widely read on cell-phone Web sites have been one of this year's booming phenomena, with several titles as well as Rin's making the bestseller lists after being published in book form.

....Mobile-phone book editors attribute the novels' popularity to the fact that they fit the lifestyle of high-school girls and women in their 20s. This demographic not only habitually communicate by typed keitai messages, but also read on their small screens while on the train, at home or anywhere. As well, keitai-novel sites have become the nodes of a community by making it possible for users to have interactions together and access a huge number of titles. Writers, too, can have easy access to readers' responses and then draw on them to further develop their stories.

"An interesting aspect of keitai novels is that readers and writers often overlap. In many cases, readers who were inspired by stories on the sites have started writing by themselves," said Mayumi Sato, an editor at Goma Books, which published three of the five bestselling keitai books in the first half of this year.

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