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Mobile phone novels now have book prizes

The first Japan Mobile Phone Novel Awards were held yesterday

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