Reading on the telephone

Eric Steuer of Wired reports that, in Japan, the “latest trend in trashy lit is books on phone”:

The Japanese novel that ignited the craze is Deep Love, the melodramatic tale of Ayu, a teenage girl who dabbles in prostitution. The story’s author, who goes by the nom de plume Yoshi, published installments of the tearjerker as downloadable text files on his Web site in May 2000. To attract readers, Yoshi plied high-school students with promotional flyers in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. News of the serialized story spread SMS-fast, earning the book a level of ardor usually reserved for the latest Gackt album. Soon, fans were suggesting plot twists (Yoshi incorporated many along the way). And yes, the novel was later printed; it’s sold 1.8 million copies to date. The film adaptation hit theaters in April. Are you listening, Random House? The future of publishing is on the line.

Steuer points would-be cell phone readers to: Fictionwise, which offers best-seller downloads for an average of $7; Project Gutenberg, purveyor of classic literary works without charge; and MemoWare, where readers can find maps and other unique documents, usually for free. (Thanks to Chris Baker for the link.)