Half of Japanese Bestsellers Typed on Phones, Printed on Paper

Cell_Phone_Novels.jpgThe big deal in Japan right now are keitai shousetsu, mobile phone novels that are composed on the phone, released electronically as serials, then compiled into the ancient paper-bound codex we're still trying to ditch. In the first six months of 2007, half of the top 10 bestselling novels in Japan were originally thumbtyped on a phone, and have averaged 400,000 copies each in sales. Most of these novels are written by women, and involve some seriously messed-up subject matter. One of the biggest sellers, Koizora (Love Sky) by a woman whose pen-name is simply Mika, has sold more than 1.2 million printed copies since October. It is about "a high-school girl who is bullied, gang-raped, becomes pregnant and has a miscarriage in a saga of near-Biblical proportions," says the Sydney Morning Herald, which adds that the book will soon be made into a movie.

Mika's work is typical of the genre.

The stories traverse teen romance, sex, drugs and other adolescent terrain in a succession of clipped one-liners, emoticons and spaces (used to show that a character is thinking), all of which can be read easily on a mobile phone interface. Scene and character development are notably missing.

Scholars attribute the shallowness of the literature to a dearth of cell-phone accessible kanji characters and small screens which necessitate "short, simple sentences with basic words," rather than admit that this is, in fact, the sign of a civilization in decline. [SMH via Gadget Lab]

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