Mobile Phone Novel

Underground Mainstream

Mobile Phone Novel

Japanese women and men love mobile phone novels, the so-called "mobairu shousetsu" (novels for the mobile phone) and "keitai shousetsu" (mobile phone novels as such). In Europe this movement started about 2007, promoted by single persons such as Oliver Bendel or providers such as the cosmoblonde GmbH or the Blackbetty Mobilmedia GmbH. The mobile phone novel is stored on a mobile device and read in all kinds of situations, on your way to work, to school or university, at the beach (i.e. in bright sunlight) and in bed (e.g. under the blanket). The books can be, but don't necessarily have to be written on a mobile phone. 



The size of the display, the keypad as well as other features can lead to certain literary forms. Short and simple sentences are typical. There are basically no dialogues, or Occam's razor is applied. The plots are mostly fast-paced and weird and are often about love and passion. Therefore mobile phone novels are not only another form of electronic books but a very own genre. The authors are usually not part of the literary mainstream, they are often young talents, and in Japan particularly girls. 

Mobile phone novels are either provided as a whole or as serialized novels or a series of stories; in this case you pay for new episodes either by means of single payments or a subscription fee. Some authors or providers also publish their mobile phone novels on websites, where readers can comment on the story and influence the story line. In Japan particularly successful mobile phone novels are also published in print, thus becoming even more successful.

In Asia this phenomenon has had an enormous effect on the literary scenes and markets, in Europe, however, it is still pretty uncommon. Nevertheless more and more authors and companies are keen on developing new forms of literature, new technologies and business models, and newspapers, magazines and radio and TV stations publish reports about this trend. And even during this early stage of the development fundamental questions arise for the established producers, distributors and keepers of the book, such as publishing houses and libraries.


Decisive for a success of mobile phone novels in Europe will be a certain amount of this kind of literature. You generally have to differentiate between authors who want to transfer their conventional texts to mobile phones, and authors who are writing exclusively for mobile phones or smartphones. Yet only few authors belong to this second group that plays a key role in this context. Of course the appropriate literature still has to develop, a literature suitable for the mobile phone, a literature that uses the potential of mobile devices, a literature that appeals and fascinates the target groups. The success on the market will not at least be influenced by the success or failure of competing approaches.