Keitai Culture: The Mobile Novel

November 12, 2007

There are many different “brands” of novel out in the market. The newest brand of writing is known simply as “mobile novels.” I am not talking about reading Dostoevsky on your iPhone, what I am referring to is the growing trend of cell phone users who actually type up their own novels, using cell phones.

Most cell phones involve dexterity to type, especially for accuracy. Many of these cell phone novels are posted on online communities like Maho-I-Land, or published using vanity publishing sites such as

The anonymity of the keitai shosetsu (cell phone novel) writing allows anyone to post his or her writing up without fear of being immediately criticized or revered. Novels can be commented on, and the comments are done so by fellow writers and peers. There is no fear of criticism from publishers and editors on these sites. Still, most mobile novels that are published are done so under pen-names like Mika or Chaco.

It is interesting how something so simple, can become so popular. The concept of easy to write, easy to read, easy to publish writing is an obvious attraction for aspiring authors. But respect and loyalty given to authors should be earned, not typed on a cell phone during free moments in the day. If one were to brand the concept of novel writing, I would have to place this type of literature as an equivalent writing “See Spot Run.”

This type of literature is mostly being written and marketed to a niche market of high school and college age people in Japan. Their culture allows for more acceptance of public typing on a cell phone than other cultures. The keitai culture allows for constant typing and reading of text on cell phones. Writing a novel during lunchtime on one’s cell phone is not out of the ordinary in Japan.

This writing is marketed towards a small niche market of consumers, and yet some of these novels are being converted for the silver screen. The keitai novel “Love Sky” has sold millions of hard copies, and is scheduled to be made into a movie. It just goes to show that whatever industry you are in, there is always room for a new niche market with its own unique idea of brand identity.


Charles Muir
Brand Associate

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