March 19, 2005
Next hot trend for cell phones: Reading?
Tens of thousands of Japanese cell-phone owners are poring over full-length novels on their tiny screens, report the Associated Press .
"In the latest versions, cell-phone novels are downloaded in short installments and run on handsets as Java-based applications. You're free to browse as though you're in a bookstore, whether you're at home, in your office or on a commuter train. A whole library can be tucked away in your cell phone — a gadget you carry around anyway.
The Tokyo-based wireless service provider offers 150 books on its site, called "Bunko Yomihodai," which means "All You Can Read Paperbacks." It began the service in 2003 and saw interest grow last year. There are now about 50,000 subscribers.
"It's hard to understand unless you try it out," Kajita said, adding that the handset's backlight allows people to read with the lights off — a convenience that delights parents who like to read near sleeping infants.
Users can search by author, title and genre, and readers can write reviews, send fan mail to authors and request what they want to read, all from their phones.
A recent marketing study by Bandai found that more than half the readers are female, and many are reading cell-phone books in their homes.
Surprisingly, people are using cell-phone books to catch up on classics they never finished reading. And people are perusing sex manuals and other books they're too embarrassed to be caught reading or buying. More common is keeping an electronic dictionary in your phone in case a need arises".
Cell-phone novels remain a niche market compared with ringtones, music downloads and video games, said Yoshiteru Yamaguchi, executive director at Japan's top mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo. But no longer is reading books on a phone considered unbelievable, he said."
Click here for articles on cell phone novels.
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