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Now novels, comics on your mobile!

November 17, 2006 14:24 IST
Literary buffs who always want to bury their head in some absorbing prose, can now do so on a screen two inches wide.

Novels and even comic books are available for reading on the mobile phone. Already a big hit in Japan and China, momics (mobile comics) as they are called, are all set to capture the Indian market.

On an experimental basis one of the mobile content providers has already rolled out Amar Chitra Katha on the mobile, which they claim is a success.

The first Indian mobile novel Neelakannukal (Blue Eyes) has been written in Malayalam and distributed free to 600 mobile users.  The writer is now in talks with the cellular operators for making it available on demand.

"With over 96 million GSM subscribers alone, the market for mobile comics, novels and books is very huge," says Rajiv Hiranandani, of mobile2win, a content developer, noting "In Japan and Korea, entire books are available on mobile, but in India they are still to pick up in a very big way."

Hiranandani, who is developing mobile comics says last year, they introduced comics in China, and they were a huge success. The market there is very big, with over 400 million subscribers.

"In India, we plan to bring them out shortly first in English and in another 5-6 months in Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and Telugu," he says adding they rolled out Amar Chitra Katha on comics a few months back on experimental basis and it was a success.

The first Indian mobile novel too has been released though to limited users and its writer P R Harikumar, a lecturer at Sree Sankara College at Kaladi, says "The size of the novel

with all its six episodes is 70 KB. This is embedded in a screen as a Java programme. Any mobile phone, which has Java facility can install this file successfully."

Phone-novels are texts that can only be read on cell phones. The first phone novel was published in Japan, titled 'Deep Love' written by Yoshi. Later, phone novels caught on in Korea and Switzerland. Phone-novels are also called SMS novels, mobile novels, cell phone novels and mobile fiction.

"I intend to distribute the phone novel through a mobile provider in India. At present the cost of the file is not fixed," he told PTI. On the technology used, he says "I used a software available in the net called Readmaniac e-book reader and added Malayalam fonts into that software and made the Jar file - application files for Java enable mobile phones with the help of Readmaniac building wizard -a portion in the same software."

Hiranandani explains that the novel or books can either be downloaded or available even on SMS. However, for comics, he says "we plan to upload it on the operators portal and all who have access to WAP can download it either by paying a daily cost of Rs 1-2 or a monthly subscription."

In the same way as in newspapers, one comic strip would be available to the subscriber daily. However, for novels and other literary works, they can be made available on any mobile. "As an introductory offer, it was given free to 600 mobile users around the world. They simply installed it in their mobile phones and have read the novel in Malayalam smoothly," Harikumar says adding the response was very good.

This medium is creating a new form of expression. And perhaps more importantly, it could reverse the younger generation's apathy towards reading, says Harikumar.
Arvinder Kaur in New Delhi
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