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The cellphone novel: Ain't it gr8! :)

It's literature for the masses. So democratic you don't even have to be a reader to read one.

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The number one novel in Japan last year was written on a cellphone. I find that especially interesting because I'm a writer, and I recently wrote this on a cellphone: "Ok. See you there."

I was very proud because normally I would have stopped at "Ok." But after agreeing to meet an old friend, I was feeling rather expansive, and at the risk of being verbose, I added "See you there." That's eight minutes of my life I'll never get back.

The novel, "Love Sky," written by a young Japanese woman named Mika, was published in traditional book form and sold millions of copies before being turned into a movie.

I figured it must have been a novelty book, an art stunt akin to painting a detailed portrait without using your hands. But no, my judgment here is about as good as my texting ability.

The book was published because 20 million people read it in serial form online or on cellphones. And far from being a novelty, the cellphone novel is now mainstream in Japan. According to a recent article in The New York Times, five of the Top 10 novels in Japan last year were written on cellphones.

Of course, critics in Japan are warning of the downfall of Japanese literature. Which is pretty much what the critics said when Daniel Defoe, the author of "Robinson Crusoe," came out with what's often referred to as the first novel in English, "Moll Flanders." They said it was crude, lowbrow, not literature in the noble tradition of poetry and drama. In short, it was literature for the masses.

And so the cellphone novel makes perfect sense. So perfect it would seem that embedded in the genes of the first novel were the stem cells for the cellphone novel.

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