Cybernovels dominate bestseller list in Japan

In Japan, an unlikely literary tool has had enormous success this year: text-messaging. According to Norimitsu Onishi of The New York Times, five of the ten best-selling novels this year were composed via text message. Typically these ketai shotetsu – or “portable novels” – are posted on Web sites, where they can then be downloaded either for low prices or for free. Authors only make money when people buy the published version of their story. Wired Magazine speculates that each novel is about 200-500 pages at 500 Japanese characters a page. With short sentences and heavy dialogue, the ketai shotetsu are not traditional novels. Unless, of course, you find passages like this in the texts your typical literature class: ‘”Jesus! I am sooo hungry/ Can’t wait no longer’/ Mika opened the bento-box/ on her desk as usual/ ‘I hate school.”‘ The quote is from number one bestseller, “Koizora,” or “Love Sky” in English, which has already been made into a film. The tale, penned by Mika (a pseudonym), is about a female high school student who suf?fers a miscarriage as a result of a gang-rape. Though critics may lament the books’ melodramatic tone and lack of detail (due in part to the cell phone’s incomplete character set), the books are clearly popular. In the comments section on the Youtube trailer for the “Koizora” film, which has 600,000+ hits, user xxthreewishesxx wistfully writes, “i luv koizora so badly…i wish i was mika.”