Wired News: Big Books Hit Japan's Tiny Phones
Chaco types furiously on her cell phone keypad, stopping only to take an occasional puff of her Seven Stars menthol cigarette. But she's not sending a text message. She's writing a novel.
Chaco is becoming one of the most popular mobile phone novelists in Japan. We don't know much about her -- except that she's a twenty-something Pisces from Osaka -- but we do know that she can spit out books faster than Danielle Steel. In the last 14 months, she wrote five novels, including her best seller, What the Angel Gave Me, which has sold more than 1 million copies to date.
"I can type faster on my phone than on a standard keyboard," she says. In between chapters, Chaco logs on to her blog and puts up a progress report for her eagerly waiting fans. "My god, it's already 9:30!" she writes. "Where was I? I was sitting at my desk with writer's block."
Chaco's decision to stay anonymous is pretty common among mobile phone novelists, who are often sharing personal and provocative stories for the first time.
A mobile phone novel typically contains between 200 and 500 pages, with each page containing about 500 Japanese characters. The novels are read on a cell phone screen page by page, the way one would surf the web, and are downloadable for around $10 each. The first mobile phone novel was written six years ago by fiction writer Yoshi, but the trend picked up in the last couple years when high-school girls with no previous publishing experience started posting stories they wrote on community portals for others to download and read on their cell phones....