Japanese embrace cell-phone novels

Why cell-phone novels do so well in Japan

Here's why futurists look to Japan: while we just got around to finding someone willing to write a book on a cell phone, in Japan people have been reading books on cell phones for years.

Keitai shousetsu (literally, "mobile novels") have been big business in Japan, to the point where two smaller publishers who only sell to the mobile market have outsold traditional, dead-tree publishers.

Given that e-books of any stripe haven't fared too well over the years and that cell-phone screens are only moderately better for text than those on the MiniDisc-based MD Books Sony was flogging in the early 1990s, you might wonder how this is possible. I think it's a number of factors:

1) An awful lot of commuters, and awfully little elbow room. Tokyo's subways system alone carries about 10 million every day, and subway cars are often crammed beyond capacity. A cell phone is a lot easier to deal with than a newspaper or a manga volume.

2) Keitai shousetsu are dirt cheap, costing only a few hundred yen (less than $15) -- which makes sense, given the lack of printing, storage and shipping costs.

3) No DRM.

4) Japan's major publishing houses got into keitai shousetsu in a big way, which I'm sure helped give the form an air of respectability.

So let's put this another way: Mobile novels meet consumer needs, are cheap and convenient, and the old guard have enthusiastically embraced the form. Translation: massive popularity and respectable amounts of money (the two publishers I mentioned earlier sold more than three million novels in the first half of this year) in fairly short order. Nope, never saw that coming.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Emru Townsend

PC World
Show Comments





Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?