Monday, February 2, 2009

Be an early adjuster: cell phone your next novel

For publishing to survive -- not by cost cuts, but by attracting new customers -- the stories and insights will have to go in places beyond paper and ink.

Why are we book lovers so afraid of new technology? Why is there the sense that another technology displaces the importance of the story? Perhaps the dread comes from the last go-around with a new technology: movies. We all know how well those literary translations worked out.

Ms. Obie Joe has been reading with great amusement of the Dickens-type of storytelling in Japan. There, over 86 Percent of Japanese high schoolers are great readers of the modern novel -- on their cell phones. The novels are delivered, in many cases at no additional costs -- in segments. Interestingly, just as a book's sales shoot after a movie version is released, many teens buy the book version. Not so surprisingly, 10 of Japan's print bestsellers in 2007 were based on cell phone novels--successfully selling about 400,000 copies each.

Mr. Obie Joe was intrigued at the saturation of the cell phone novel; beginning in 2002, the first edition came from by Yoshi who wanted to experiment with a new market for Deep Love: Ayu's Story. The book was an instant success, and beget print books, cartoons, and a film. Each installment is Twitter-length, 70-140 words, with segments timed for delivery several times a day. (Always with cliffhangers, one supposes).

Not only does this prove technological advances will help publishing, these also reach the so-called "nonreader," ages 10-20.

No one is asking any of us who love books to be an early adopter for technology, but at the very least, let's be an early adjuster for the technology already here.

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