A big web trend from Japan that gained traction in China is now poised to become even bigger: Keitai Shousetsu (cell phone novels). These novels, which are not only being read on cell phones but also written on them, are hugely popular in Japan where they are a multi-million dollar industry.
Tokyo-based Digi-Book Japan (a subsidiary of major publishing company Toppan Printing) has now announced it will distribute cell phone novels written by selected Japanese authors to Chinese cell phones. (China is the world’s biggest cell phone market – about 650-700 million Chinese are believed to own one.)
About 100 popular stories, translated into Chinese, will be sold as early as next month. Shanghai-based Shanda Interactive Entertainment, known mainly as online gaming company (and listed at the Nasdaq) will take over distribution in China. Digi-Book and Shanda will split revenues (authors get 10% of the sales price).
This isn’t all: Both companies also consider selling Japanese versions of Chinese web novels in Japan, aiming at 600,000 downloads yearly. And if things go well, Digi-Book plans to sell Japanese manga in China, too (as early as this fall).
Cell phone novels became popular in Japan around 2003, with quite a few of them being turned into printed books, feature films and TV series. Although the phenomenon spilled over to Asian countries like China or South Korea, it never gained traction in North America or Europe.
Via Nikkei [registration required, paid subscription]