Monday, January 21, 2008

Packet death

My flagger sent me this NYT article on Japan's boom of novels written via text messaging. Five of the top ten books in Japan right now were written via SMS, "mostly love stories written in the short sentences characteristic of text messaging but containing little of the plotting or character development found in traditional novels." These sorts of novels have really taken off, partially because of the incredible penetration of mobile tech in Japan, partially because of mass transportation causing blocks of constrained free time, and partially because texting is unlimited:
The boom appeared to have been fueled by a development having nothing to do with culture or novels but by cellphone companies’ decision to offer unlimited transmission of packet data, like text-messaging, as part of flat monthly rates. The largest provider, Docomo, began offering this service in mid-2004.

“Their cellphone bills were easily reaching $1,000, so many people experienced what they called ‘packet death,’ and you wouldn’t hear from them for a while,” said Shigeru Matsushima, an editor who oversees the book uploading site at Starts Publishing, a leader in republishing cellphone novels.
"Packet death." I love that. And I wonder how things would change here in the US if packet data were made unlimited at no extra fee. (Currently I pay Sprint, supposedly the worst US mobile service provider, an extra monthly fee for unlimited SMS and data.)

Thumbs Race as Japan’s Best Sellers Go Cellular - New York Times

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