The Japanese are famed for their love of mobile phones. After all, they can do everything from planning conception to simulating train driving while on a real train.
However, it's not so widely known that the mobile is a popular platform on which to read full-length novels, nor that the first Japan Mobile Phone Novel Awards were held yesterday.
The so-called keitai-shousetsu (keitai means 'mobile' and shousetsu is 'a novel') are wildly popular among the 16-45 age group and are, of course, most often read on train journeys. At yesterday's ceremony in Tokyo the top prize of 1 million yen (£4,434) went to an Osaka woman known only by her pen-name of Towa.
Her story of romance between a schoolgirl prostitute and a nightclub host (yes, it is very Japanese) was ranked first by a panel of more traditional writers and will now be published in print for the non-tech-savvy reading public's enjoyment.
Mobile novels are sold by massive publishing firms, such as Shinchosha or Kadokawa , for a few hundred yen (50p and up) to be downloaded once and read at any time using Java ebook readers installed on most handsets. J Mark Lytle