Cellphone Fiction – Can 20 Million Japanese Be Wrong?

An article by Leon Neyfakh in the Observer notes that Love Sky, a debut novel by a young woman named Mika, was read by 20 million people on cellphones or on computers.” The book, a handwringer and tearjerker, was first uploaded on Maho no i-rando, and though the author made no money on the avalanche of hits, she made a fortune on the subsequent printed book and movie.

“Why don’t these exist in the United States?” asks Neyfakh. “Obviously everyone would read them. This…is what the publishing houses should be doing if they want to keep up instead of thinking about Digg and Yelp or whatever, as some people seem to think.”

Would everyone read them in the United States? The American populace does a lot of things on cellphones and computers but reading books on a mass scale is not yet one of them. The e-book business has been growing by double-digit jumps for a decade, but when a bestselling e-book is still defined here in the hundreds, we realize how far Americans have to go before a texted work of fiction published here will make its author rich and famous.

For an idea of how huge cellphones are in Japan, there are even magazines devoted to them. An observer counted half a dozen devoted to the iPhone alone!

– Richard Curtis

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