As a follow-up to last week’s posts by Ai Takeuchi with Japanese perspectives on global education, I wanted to comment on Steve Jobs’ claim that nobody reads books anymore –and counter his claim by pointing out that books are alive and well in Japan because the Japanese are embracing the distribution possibilities provided by new media and new technologies.
Mike Elgan beat me to the punch, though, and posted this article at Computer World. An excerpt:
Half of Japan’s top 10 best-selling books last year — half! — started out as cell phone-based books, according to the New York Times.
The books-on-phones genre started when a home-page-making Web site company realized that people in Japan were writing serialized novels on their blogs, and figured out how to autocreate cell phone-based novels from the blog entries.
The popularity of these blog novels on cell phones sparked huge interest among readers in writing such novels. Last month, the site passed the 1 million novel mark.
Some of these amateur writers become so famous on the cell phone medium that the big publishing houses seek them out and offer lucrative deals for print versions. The No. 5 best-selling print book in Japan last year, according to the Times, was written first on a cell phone by a girl during her senior year in high school.
In this brave new world of literature where anybody can become a best-selling author using mobile technologies, we need to rethink what a “book” really is. Instead of blocking mobile technologies in schools, what if schools allowed them so that kids could produce their own books?