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Cell-phone novels: A Fad or More?

I read about cell-phone novels in the latest issue of The Writer Magazine, and honestly, I hadn’t even thought about cell-phone novels before the article (didn’t even know they existed). According to the article, this genre really took off in Japan (not surprised), and is just now starting to catch on in the US (isn’t it always like that when it comes to technology/trends?). The point of a cell-phone novel is material posted serially via, you guessed it, cell-phones. 140 characters per post–sounds like Twitter to me. Two websites, Quillpill and Textnovel have popped up in the US serving this genre: post your clips on the sites, get user feedback, and, possibly win a prize for a well-written cell-phone novel.

I think this genre has potential, but it also seems too early to tell since I had never even heard of this genre before I read the article. Since the article was featured in The Writer Magazine, I’m not sure if non-writing folk know of this genre just yet.

For some people, reading novels on a cellphone works for them; for me, I still prefer to hold an old-fashioned book and read that way. I am sure there is still a considerable number of people who prefer to read books the old-fashioned way.

Also, I took a look at the two websites earlier and my first impression of both places (in terms of layout/usability of the site) was not so great. Quillpill had a cleaner look than Textnovel, but Quillpill was also pretty dark with colors. Textnovel uses lighter colors, but I can’t help but feel like the colors don’t work so well in usability either. The point of the websites is not to show off great layouts, but still…when it comes to drawing people in to use their services, it’d be better to have layouts that are usable and attractive to some sense.

But, that’s besides the point of what Quillpill and Textnovel are offering. Would I consider signing up with one of the websites to try things out? Well, I’d consider it, but I believe I could do the same (write a “cell-phone”/serial novel) via Twitter. The difference between Twitter and the other two sites is that Twitter doesn’t have the votes/feedback options. Textnovel offers a contest for the best written cell-phone novel, and one Textnovel writer is actually in the process of getting her novel published traditionally. Sounds like a good deal, right?

I’ll probably wait on this prospect since I’m already bogged down by my backlog of blog entries and other writing projects. I already post little clips of potential stories to Twitter, so I’m not sure if I’d be able to utilize Quillpill or Textnovel fully. Would you try these services out? Do you think the cell-phone novel can survive?