First off, let me make it very clear...this is adult (very adult) reading entertainment for the most part, so I am not a supporter of its content! I do find the delivery system interesting and was wondering why I had not heard of it here. The main reason for that I quickly found out is...it is not here!
So I did my research and here is what I found:
This young lady is named Rin, currently 21 and her first best seller was "texted" when she was a senior in high school. The TV report indicated that at one point she was measured texting 1000 characters per minute.
From a NY Times article (Jan. 2008) I read that from Japan's 2007 10 best-selling novels, 5 started out as cell phone virtual novels. The growth of the industry is due to price structure change in text messaging...something we have experienced here, but just not for books! Although many writers actually "wrote" on their phones, one publsiher commented that one author's vocabulary increased and her sentences got longer...when she abandoned the phone for a computer keyboard & screen!
In the if book: Project for the Future of the Book article (Mar. 2005), serializing the stories (a la Dickens' original form) allows the author to change the flow if the readers aren't following. Apparently, this feature is the strength of the newly-developed genre. Wired AP article (Mar. 2005) carried many of the same statements.
Yes, there is a basic introductory article Mobile Phone Novels entry from Wikipedia which states the first cell phone novel was published in 2003 and went to sell 2.3 million copies when it went into print.
From an ABC News feature (Jan. 2008) came the interesting statement that Japanese trains are so crowded, no room for opening a book! Hence, the popularity of books on cell phones. As far as whether text novels will come to the English-speaking world:
For Japan, it's that intersection between a tech-savvy population, a
language written in characters and time \spent commuting that
make cell phone novels so popular to both read and write and why Americans will probably never see versions of the new novel form, said Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley-based technology analyst.
Romance stories have made a small entry in the UK according to another ABC News report (April 2007), but the biggest drawback...no steamy, lustful voices a la i-pod upload!
In an article in ComputerWorld (Jan. 2008), the problem of decreased reading in the United States is discussed. Cell phone books are not necessarily seen as one of the solutions to the problem however even though in Japan that seems to be just the opposite. Among the several reasons why is the Japanese have learned how to make the books participatory--the readers tell whether they like the way the story is going or not. That idea is not available here...yet.
So, I'm not behind the times now...at least on this topic. I'm sure there are many out there who will sigh and say "old news."