Why Japanese kids love books
Half of Japan’s top 10 best-selling books last year — half! — started out as cell phone-based books, according to the New York Times.
The books-on-phones genre started when a home-page-making Web site company realized that people in Japan were writing serialized novels on their blogs, and figured out how to autocreate cell phone-based novels from the blog entries.
The popularity of these blog novels on cell phones sparked huge interest among readers in writing such novels. Last month, the site passed the 1 million novel mark.
Some of these amateur writers become so famous on the cell phone medium that the big publishing houses seek them out and offer lucrative deals for print versions. The No. 5 best-selling print book in Japan last year, according to the Times, was written first on a cell phone by a girl during her senior year in high school.
Can we emulate Japan? Yes. But the secret to getting young people excited about books isn’t about taking our existing published books and formatting them for cell phones. Instead, we need to figure out how to let readers publish their own books in a way that can reach a mass audience — not just on obscure blogs, but on all media: print, online, audio and, yes, even cell phones.