Monday, February 2, 2009

eBooks, eNovels & ePublishing for the cell phone

I admit to having an almost morbid fascination with the whole reading on cell phones thing.  So of course, this Galleycat title grabbed my attention:

86 Percent of Japanese High Schoolers Read Cell Phone Novels

Cell phone novels, called keital in Japanese are hot sellers with Japanese youth (particularly young women). The headline is just the beginning.  The article goes on to say that 75% of middle school and 23% of grade school girls read cell phone novels.

Last year ten of Japan's best selling paper novels started out as cell phone novels and sold about 400,000 copies each.  And in fact most of those sales were for expensive hardcover books.  The buyers had almost all read the novel on their phone before buying the book.

Japan is a country where a great portion of the population commutes on trains. Commuting and text messaging have become almost synonymous.  Talking on cell phones in a crowded space is considered rude and texting is cheaper than voice service. 

Get on any rush hour train and you will see literally hundreds of people peering at their phones.  It makes sense that the young have found their own form of entertainment -- evidently games for guys and cell phone novels for girls. 

These cell phone novels are usually written for the young by the young.  The novels text standard techniques:  short lines, simple vocabulary, and lots of mobile symbols (abbreviations).

But it is it literature?  Not according to the older generation or academics! 

But the older generation and academics are only a small portion of the Internet/cell phone population.  And in this day and age good ideas jump oceans and continents in a single bound.

Consider textnovel, the first English language cell phone novel site.  The site offers free subscriptions to serialized cell phone novels.  Last month cellphone novelist, Saoirse Redgrave, won $1000 for her novel 13 to Life: a Werewolf's Tale. 

It has started!  Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Saoirse Redgrave said...

Great article--thanks for mentioning my win at with "13 to Life: A Werewolf's Tale."

Creating a cellphone novel was never on my "Top Ten" list of things to accomplish. I've written off and on for years and been published in print and online venues. But this--well--it's been a very strange and amazing experience so far. not only awarded me $1,000 and an agency contract, my work on this online serial novel allowed me to be interviewed by's Lara Farrar and has enabled me to lead discussions on online publishing and the cellphone novel phenomenon.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me! :-)

Thanks so much!
~Saoirse Redgrave
Winner, 2008
"13 to Life: A Werewolf's Tale"


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