A World of Speculation

Japanese school girls are part of what may be a trend as they read a new novel on their cell phones.

An entrepreneurial genius named Yoshi delivers the romantic novel about 17-year-old Ayu in small daily installments:

Mobile phones can receive e-mail of up to 1,600 characters. While this is more than adequate for most personal use, the limit presents unique challenges to the author of a novel. Yoshi, however, not only managed to overcome this challenge but even turned it to his advantage by keeping the prose concise and fast-paced. The novel maintains a straightforward, conversational style and avoids the use of difficult words. Thanks to this quality, the story has found favor even among people who do not typically read novels.

Yoshi invested about $1,000 in his content-providing website and passed out business cards to 2,000 high-school girls in a chic section of Tokyo. His site has received 20 million hits over three years. He took feedback from readers and added plot twists based on their suggestions.

A movie is in the works, but I had to go to the original source to find out if it was about Ayu or Yoshi. (I suspect Yoshi’s story is better than Ayu’s.) Yoshi is filming the movie himself and planning to use his e-mail network to promote it.

Major publishers are putting content on phone companies’ literary websites, mostly out-of-print titles they had lying around.

The Trends in Japan website says that the draw for the phone books is convenience, portability and the user’s ability to read them in the dark. Funny, that’s what people said about ebooks. But ebooks died and these phone things seem to be taking off. What’s the difference? Maybe the hefty price tag for an ebook reader and the fact that Yoshi wrote the book to fit his medium. I suspect Hemingway would work better by phone than Faulkner.

Nod to Boing Boing