Cell Phone Novels Take Japan by Storm

Audience, sales huge for works written, read on handsets
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2008 3:51 PM CST
A Japanese woman browses her mobile phone in front of a share prices board in Tokyo, 21 August 2007. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Japan’s literary world has been rocked by the ascendancy of cell phone novels: serial works written mainly by young women on their phone keypads. The New York Times reports five of 2007’s 10 bestsellers were cell phone novels reprinted as conventional books—despite the fact that the country’s cultural establishment has yet to accept the terse prose on familiar romantic themes as literature.

But fans and authors of the works are just as likely to shun conventional novels. “They don’t read works by professional writers because their sentences are too difficult to understand," says one cell phone author. And the new genre has created a new philosophical dilemma for established cell phone authors: do their works count if they aren’t written exclusively on a phone?