Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Are Cell Phone Books the Way Fiction Is Going? Oh, No! I Prefer Turning Pages to Scrolling Any Day

When I started to read Dana Goodyear’s article in the current double issue of The New Yorker , “I (heart) Novels” I wasn’t sure if I was reading reporting or fiction. It is, after all, one of the magazine’s two fiction issues, and maybe, I thought, this is a slightly futuristic short story. But Goodyear's piece about novels written on cell phones was serious, and I obviously had missed an article earlier in The New York Times about the literary phenomenon that is sweeping Japan. Millions of copies have been sold of cell phone stories---usually thumbed in by young women—both on line and in print. Even elderly Buddhist nuns are getting in on the act: an 86 year old published one this fall which has been an instant success.

Is this the wave of the future? Is it possible we should forget about Kindle and other e-book formats because this is the real direction books are heading? Or maybe we've found the ultimate way to have a story at your fingertips?

Don’t know, but I imagine the novels—and they run to 50,000 or 80,000 words, it seems—are better read if you have the good eyesight of the young. Much is made about the dexterity of thumb-texting kids, but it’s not my digits that give me pause in situations like that, but my vision. For a taste of what one is like in easier-to-read typeface, try a sample from an English translation of the biggest seller to date.

And here’s an Young Adult novel written originally in English

But I think I prefer sitting down in a comfortable chair and not having to constantly scroll, but being able to rest except for moving a page every minute or so. That's the agenda for this New Year's Eve in fact.

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