(2008-01-17) Mobile Reading Japan Yourgrau

Back in 2005, the AP noted that many people in Japan were reading books (Thin Book) on their Mobile-s. It takes some getting used to. Only a few lines pop up at a time because the phone screen is about half the size of a business card... In the latest versions, cell-phone novels are downloaded in short installments and run on handsets as Java-based applications... A recent marketing study by Bandai found that more than half the readers are female, and many are reading cell-phone books in their homes... A writer who goes by the single name Yoshi wrote Deep Love, a series of stories about a Tokyo teenage prostitute. He began by posting them on an obscure cell-phone site he started and made reader payment voluntary... It went on to become a movie, TV show and Manga, or Japanese-style Comic Book. It's even been turned into a real Printed Book, with some 2.6 million copies sold.

Judy Breck noted this as support for treating the Mobile as Educational Technology because of its ubiquity. Learning content must be open and connectible to stay current and in use.

In May'2007 Malcolm Lithgow placed the Mobile Smart Phone in the context/history of the Network Computer, and also noted Japanese adoption rates. He doesn't think the Web Browser is as good as a Fat Client for Mobile devices.

In Dec'2007 Richard Lloyd Parry noted This week the 2007 bestseller list, published by Japan's biggest book distributor, Tohan, revealed that five of the year's most successful novels, including the top three, were first written for downloading on mobile phones before being republished in book form... The new dominance of mobile novels - keitai shosetsu in Japanese - is all the more remarkable for the speed with which it has come about. They did not exist in 2002, but the following year online sales were worth 1.8 billion yen (L8 million). By 2006, the figure has risen to 9.4 billion yen (L42 million)... Several publishers operate mobile novel websites from which phone users can download novels for a subscription of about 300 yen (L1.33) a month. The stories are divided into gobbets which can be read in about three minutes, the typical distance between two stops on the Japanese SubWay... "It is a world of right and wrong, and is quite un-literary." This, of course, is their appeal. "High school students experience mobile phone novels as real life," writes the high-brow literary journal, Bungakukai, which features keitai shosetsu in its latest issue. "For these readers, they are a substitute for pop music and comics."

  • Feb'2008 article notes The popularity of these blog novels on cell phones sparked huge interest among readers in writing such novels (Amateur). Last month, the site passed the 1 million novel mark... The popularity of these blog novels on cell phones sparked huge interest among readers in writing such novels. Last month, the site passed the 1 million novel mark... In other words, I think cell phone novels are hot in Japan and not in America because the Japanese have made novels Participatory Media, and we haven't figured out how to do that yet.

(In Dec'2007 DailyLit announced we're starting to carry titles from Harlequin Romance.)

Barry Yourgrau wrote a series of stories designed for Mobile distribution in Japan. I went to his reading last week:

  • He got the idea while he was travelling there.

  • He wrote the stories in English (while travelling in Spain), and they were translated by someone else.

  • He tried to always make the 1st line fit on one screen: 12 words!

  • He wrote 78 stories this way, which were read by 100k people.

  • He tweaked 40 of those stories and published them as a NASTY book ISBN:0060579781. (Here are some good links for that.) More have followed.

  • He read a few stories. Some topics:

    • A Hello Kitty-inspired real kitty bankrupts her owner buying expensive toys

    • A loney otaku has his "dreamgirl" stolen by his friend

    • A withdrawn boy's parents invent a fantasy/successful life for him, and discuss it in front of him at the dinner table.

    • A manga-reading mouse tries to save (human) love.

    • A boy invents nature.

    • A man awakened by a neighbor complaining of screams.

    • A dirty sheep joke.

    • (He says his translator's theory is that his popularity in Japan comes from tapping into their obsession with shame and humiliation.)

  • An entertaining guy. I'll have to browse this a bit more in print to decide whether to buy it for The Boys. Will also check out My Curious Uncle Dudley ISBN:0763619353.

Jun'2008: Josh Catone profiles Quill Pill, which helps writers assemble stories written in 140-char chunks. (Update: the first Tweet Storm-s?)

Maybe this is better for Short Story writing?


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