nathan barley episode 1 part 1of 3
CELLPHONE NOVELS / Last January 20th the New York Times published a very interesting article about Cellphone novels. Its author, Norimitsu Onishi, reports that Cellphone novels (defined by Wikipedia as novels which are meant to be read in 1,000- to 2,000- word (in China) or 70-word ( in Japan) chapters via text message on cell phones, and which are downloaded in short installments and run on handsets as Java-based applications on a mobile phone, often appearing in three different formats: WMLD , JAVA and TXT) have immediately dominated the publishing market as soon as they hit the printed format. In fact, several sources sustain that five out of the ten best selling novels in Japan in 2007 were originally cell phone novels!!
“Deep Love”, the story of a teenage prostitute in Tokyo imagined and written by an online author called Yoshi, opened the precedent. Published as a book in 2003 with sailings hitting the 2,6 million copies it was later turned into a television series, a manga and a film.
Despising this new fiction style as “unworthy subgenre”, critics mostly fear that Cellphone novels might lead to the degradation/ disapearance of all other kinds of literature?!?
Characterized by shorter sentences, contracted words and making plenty of use of symbols and emoticons, Cellphone novels dismiss description and detail – seen as the greater attack to serious literature – in order to emphasize a characteristic which I find brilliant: the reader must read more in between the lines! Calling the viewer into responsibility in making his own interpretation of what is going on, this couldn´t agree more to Umberto Eco´s the “Opera Aperta” (1962).
But how do Cellphone novels actually work?
Written on cellphones as text messages and then sent to a website, subscribers can choose either to follow the new updates or download the entire novel for a fee, to read it on the computer or their cellphone. Given this process, another extremely important – and I would say brilliant – feature occurs. For users can post comments and/ or send reply sms in real time as the author is in the process of writing the novel. He has the unprecedented possibility of reacting by changing the course of events, accepting suggestions, etc. “‘It’s like playing live music at a club. You know right away if the audience isn’t responding, and you can change what you’re doing right then and there'”, says Yoshi quoted by the Institute for the Future of the Book.
Cellphone novels by being interactive and portable at the same time incite to a customization by the masses which isn´t necessarily bad nor a plain synonym for “being blindly corrupted by the market”, against what conservative minds might say. Cellphone novels have the advantage of opening new spaces of creativity and allowing for different democratic participatory ways. Quoted by Wired Magazine, Magic iLand (company running >>Free Novel Library community portal where users can download texts by selected authors and link to their blog) spokesman Toshiaki Itou said: “A mobile phone novel boom is definitely in place. And these are people who hardly ever read novels before, never mind written one”. At this point their devoloping software which will allow mobile phone novelists to integrate sounds and images into their story lines as well.
In parallel to giving the oportunity for a comunity to write a story together, mobile phones are also facilitating the circulation of already published books. In Germany and amond high-school girls, dowloading Charlotte Roche´s polemic book “Feuchgebiete” on their mobile has become a sort of rebellian act, meanwhile the media are too busy discussing how much of a tabu-book it actually is..