Cell phone novels

A new literary genre is becoming popular in Japan: the cell-phone novel. According to an article in today’s NY Times, five of the ten Japanese bestselling novels this year were originally cellphone novels–as the name suggests, serial fiction delivered to cellphones. Typically written in the first person, these novels have simple plots and rely on dialogue and short sentences. The novels are particularly popular among young people, including many who had not read fiction before. The growth of the genre has been fueled by the affordability of text messaging in Japan, since now most companies offer unlimited texting as part of regular plans. Although writers don’t get paid for the cellphone version of the novel, some have prospered when their work is repackaged as a traditional book. There’s lots to think about here: changing reading habits, business models for the reuse of content, the relationship between technology and literary genre, etc.

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