Update on keitai novels: they’re dead! At least, it looks that way in the publishing industry.
According to J-Cast, Kinokuniya rankings show that not a single keitai novel made an appearance in the top 100 sellers of 2008, despite ongoing heavy promotion of the genre.
One publisher blames the sluggish publishing sales on a lack of an impactful release during the year. That, and the fact that “keitai novel” releases went from 1 or two titles a a month in 2007 to around a dozen in 2008, reportedly resulting in a more dispersed readership. However, the drama and movie versions of “Red String” have expanded the genre’s fan base, as evidenced by growing traffic and registered users at major site Orion.
But given the originally non-commercial and independent nature of keitai novels (really, a form of fictionalized blogging), one view, backed up by an unnamed industry insider, notes that going mainstream made the genre less grassroots and thus less cool. As a result, writers/consumers may have lost interest as the “independent” feeling of community was lost. Indeed, popularity of select titles has meant stable fan bases for particular authors, making it harder for less established newcomers to make money on a book gig (sounds like the traditional publishing industry, no?).
So that means in 2008, as NHK, Japan bloggers, and even the New Yorker marveled at this new consumer development, the actual fad had already begun to fade. Doesn’t it feel kind of dirty to have been part of the dreaded “Newsweek effect.”