In the midst of the current explosion in e-readers; as the number of iPhone apps climbs beyond one hundred thousand; as standalone devices for reading Wikipedia arrive on the scene; I begin to wonder: where are the new genres these devices should be spawning? The emergence of the cellphone novel, or keitai shosetsu, in Japan seemed like a harbinger of this sort of thing. But despite the vastly increased capacity of smartphones, and despite the new reading niches opened up by devices like the Kindle, little or no generic innovation has occurred.
It’s possible that I’m missing something—if I am, let me know. iPhone apps that offer ebooks may be the answer, but the innovation there seems one of delivery, not genre. But if I’m correct, then why the dearth of invention? Maybe it’s simply a matter of time. Genres are a species of idiom, after all; they need time to evolve. Or maybe it’s because devices like the Kindle are content silos. Or maybe it’s because the iPhone app is the literature of the future.