Bestsellers and Crossovers
Bestsellers and Crossovers: Famous Keitai Shousetsu
In 2007, literary types across the world were stunned to find out that five of the top ten best-selling books in Japan were initially self-published online by first-time authors who composed the texts on their mobile phones. This page introduces these bestselling keitai shousetsu.
Crossovers into Print
"With the awful state of publishing, to sell a hundred thousand copies is a big deal. For a previously unpublished, completely unknown author to sell two million copies - that got everyone's attention"
In a shocking reversal of contemporary trends in the publishing industry, popular cell phone novels are being published in print form and have been acknowledged as saviors to what was recently a dying industry. The commercial success of the somewhat costly hardcover versions has been a source of confusion to the literary elite and media in Japan, who cannot decide whether they are horrified or relieved at this unusual resuscitation of publishing and reading. Most major bookstores in Japan now have separate keitai shousetsu sections, lending cell phone novels a grudging legitimacy as a genre. So why are fans buying print copies of novels they have already consumed in digital form? According to Mayumi Sato, editor at Goma Books, "often it's because they email suggestions and criticisms to the author on the novel website as the story is unfolding, so they feel like they've contributed to the final product, and they want a hardcopy keepsake of it" (qtd. in Norrie). The deeply felt personal connection to the digital version of the book manifests itself as a desire to possess the printed book as a keepsake in a tangible form.
Physically, the printed books mimic many of the features of their digital counterparts. As on the cell phone screen, the horizontal lines on the page read left to right, rather than the vertical right to left script of standard Japanese books. The ink, as Goodyear notes, is often colored or grey, as black text is believed to be too aggressive or imposing (65-66). The generous spacing of the original text is reproduced on the printed page, as are emoticons and other symbols. Again, critics of the genre lament the potential of these details, particularly the horizontal text, to sully the integrity of Japanese literature. If the newer generations prefer reading in this Westernized fashion, what will happen to traditional Japanese ways of reading and writing? Will local practices be absorbed by the all-consuming maw of globalization? Many critics fear that this will indeed be the case.
Go to the next page to find out more about the literacy debate surrounding keitai shousetsu.Next Page
This paper was originally written in December 2009 by Brianna Erban for LIS 585: Multimedia Literacies. This revised version was submitted to fulfill the requirements for LIS 600: Capping Exercise at the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Last updated May 6, 2010.