Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Japanese Invasion

You knew it had to happen. The craze of writing books on cellphones for cellphone reading started in Japan. It was trickling into the U.S. Looks like it may become a full-blown invasion.

According to the New York Times,
In a move that could bolster the growing popularity of e-books, Google said Thursday that the 1.5 million public domain books it had scanned and made available free on PCs were now accessible on mobile devices like the iPhone and the T-Mobile G1.
These, of course, weren’t written on a cellphone, but they will be available to download to your cellphone for you to read.

Amazon’s also getting in on the plot to make all Americans squint and develop permanent forehead wrinkles:
Amazon said that it was working on making the titles for its popular e-book reader, the Kindle, available on a variety of mobile phones. The company, which is expected to unveil a new version of the Kindle next week, did not say when Kindle titles would be available on mobile phones.
As of today, the dedicated e-book readers like the Kindle are easier on the eyes.
These specialized devices have screens about the size of a paperback book and use a technology that does not require backlighting, which makes them easier to read in most light conditions. They also have longer battery life.
But if reading books on cellphones takes off as it did in Japan, the technology will probably adapt to the demand.


  1. I know I'm likely outdated like a dinosaur soon to go extinct- but I like books! It's just like reading a newspaper online- where's the ink on my fingers and the computer doesn't take kindly to coffee being spilled and toast crumbs in the keyboard.

    I think this makes me sad though it shouldn't since maybe it means more people will read.

  2. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Already the Iphone has Stanza for reading ebooks, but if kindle versions can be adapted as well, that would be great.

    I wonder if that means the kindle market is not doing as well as expected or maybe the boom is over.

    Morgan Mandel

  4. It is sort of sad, Lauri. I'm not ready for it, but I don't think that will stop it. It all reminds me of the typewriter. I don't think I could have envisioned a day when the typewriter would be a dinosaur.

    Wow backatcha, Marvin!

  5. This might interest you: http://www.textnovel.com/

  6. I don't think the ebook reader boom is over, Morgan. There's plenty out there who are like me -- the resistance. But, like me, the resistance is beginning to convert. I think I'd like an ebook reader, but I'd also like it not to cost so dang much.

    I'm hearing from people who do read books on their phones. They clearly have a bigger phone than my ancient, no camera, no Internet, teeny screened one.

  7. Jenn, I've actually visited that site before, but didn't bookmark it since at this point, I don't want to read on my cellphone, although if I was stuck on a trip with no book.... 'Course I'd have to get a phone that has Internet capabilities.

    But if anyone else does like to do that, this is the site for you!

    Thanks Jenn.

  8. I was definitely a luddite when it came to ebooks, but I have changed my mind recently and now covet some kind of reader.

    Part of it is a desire to live a lighter life. I love to read, and I love my books, but packing and moving hundreds and hundreds of books frequently is getting me down!

    I'm not sure about the novels written on cell phone. I read an article about it in the New Yorker and I think it might be more of a danger to literacy than the physical paperback book.

    Probably showing my age there...

    Wyatt at Pan Historia

  9. ebooks for cell phones actually makes sense to me. This is because they are portable and everyone (but me and maybe five other people in the US) has one; and also because these portable 'readers' have multiple functions besides just being a reader.

    Besides, I can't haul my laptop around conveniently and the power doesn't last that long.

  10. I agree with you, Wyatt. Being able to carry multiple books in a device lighter than a regular book is appealing and convenient. I can see the sense in it.

  11. I can't download on my phone, but I'd like to see what a book on a cellphone would look like. Maybe on a Blackberry or iPhone, it would be readable. I don't think it could me on my little phone.

  12. Wow, I don't even text message! I can't imagine reading a book on my cell phone.
    But I'd heard how incredibly popular this has become in Japan - it was only a matter of time before Americans caught on...

    L. Diane Wolfe

  13. My nephew in Chicago reads books and newspapers on his Blackberry during his commute on the train. It wouldn't work in Dallas or Houston where most commuting is by car. We need a major change in our transit system for phone reading to catch on. Japan's transit system probably contributed to the popularity of books on phone. Some other advantages of reading on your phone/Blackberry are 1) you can look like you're working when you're not, and 2) you can read anything you want and you don't have to hide the cover.

  14. Diane, it does look like it's coming to the US, especially, I bet, with the younger set. Neither of my kids, now grown, have land lines. They live by their phones and computers.

  15. "and you don't have to hide the cover." - you are so funny, Mark.

    The screen on my phone is 1" by 1&1/2". I can read text messages, but a book would drive me nuts. But I can see, maybe, using a Blackberry or iPhone (don't know which has a bigger screen). And you're right, Mark, it won't catch on in states without the mass transit system. Although kids are on their cell phones all the time, every un-busy second. Reading a book would be better than IMing their BFF about ... sorry, that's about all the initial talk I know.

  16. And people looked at me like I was nuts (more often than usual) because I penned a huge portion of my first novel on my Palm handheld!

    Since people are so hooked on smart phone devices, hopefully the trend will help boost sagging book sales. I don't much care where my books get read, so long as they can be!

  17. Lisa...you are crazy. Or very good at tap-tap-tapping out words. Do they make Palms with touch pads now?

    I'm with you on readers. Doesn't matter where you read as long as you read. I do want there to be fair compensation to the authors, though.

  18. I've tried to read books on my iPhone, and it's a real pain in the neck. Seriously.

    I am looking forward to getting a Kindle, though.

    I think all these devices are great for books, but especially for periodicals. Think of all the resources we'd save!

    Remember, these aren't going to replace a good book, but they will eliminate literally metric tons of wasted paper.

  19. That's so right Christine. I might even go back to reading a paper! I don't subscribe and don't go online to read one.

    I am gonna have to stop talking about e-books. I am so wanting a Kindle now.

  20. I still like books. I still like bookstores. I can’t figure out how to use all the functions on my cell phone. Where do you put a bookmark in a Kindle? Can you look at the top of a Blackberry and see how many pages you have left? I am sure that the most electronically connected of today love reading from electronic devices and if it keeps people reading—great. As for me, I like everything about a good old fashioned book.

  21. I wonder what the answers would be if we could come back in a hundred years and ask a generation that has totally grown up with cell phones, computers, e-readers, downloadable music, etc. My children are very close to that. Who know what the next generation or two will think.

    I'd like to have an e-reader, but I'm not yet ready to get rid of my books or quit reading print books all together. And I know I'm not ready to read a book on my little phone screen!


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