5 of the top 10 books sold in Japan in 2007 began life as cellphone novels – books typed in text-speak and then posted online.
In Japan, a new literary genre has taken off. It’s called keitai shosetsu, or the mobile-phone novel.
These short books are written by text message and posted on the web. The stories have taken a particular form; most are written by and for young women and are about difficult subjects such as pregnancy and abortion.
These novels are hugely popular. Maho i-Land, Japan’s largest mobile-phone novel site, contains more than one million titles. The site is visited 3.5 billion times a month.
Publishers have caught on, and text-created books top many Japanese bestseller lists. Love Sky by Mika, and its sequel, have together sold 2.6 million copies. Many titles are filmed or made into manga cartoons.
Critics argue that predictive text makes the books repetitive, but the cellular age has turned Japan into a land of quietly tapping thumbs and wild imaginations.