figment Publishing Perspectives has an interesting piece from young-adult publisher Jacob Lewis on why he has decided to create an on-line community called Figment where teens can write and share stories.

Lewis was inspired by the way teens have adopted cell phones in Japan for many and more general purposes than they are usually used in America. But there was more to it than just wanting to see how well that would work over here.

One aspect of the Japanese model that is particularly compelling is the intimate relationship created between writer and reader. Delivered to a cell phone, a story may be psychologically on par with a private email or text message. There is an immediacy implicit in the distribution mechanism alone. Fans of cell-phone fiction rightly see themselves as the peers of the writers they admire, and they follow that author and their work as if they were friends. The storyline is beside the point.  It’s the community, the technology, and the belief that something powerful will emerge.

Teens, Lewis says, naturally create communities with each other, and were doing so well before the rest of us discovered Facebook or Twitter. This is what he is trying to tap into with Figment.

I find it fascinating how many on-line writing communities are springing up these days; even folks like Elizabeth Bear or Neal Stephenson are discovering the appeal of building such communities and inviting their readers in. As I pointed out in my series on “Paleo E-books”, such things have been around for pretty much as long as there was an Internet; they seem to be a very natural form for writing and reading with others.


  1. There is a definite blur between online fiction and e-books in the gay romance genre; a very large proportion of the current gay romance authors state that they started as online fiction authors (specifically, authors of slash fiction, both original fiction and fan fiction). As a result, they’re often quite savvy about social networking. Amazonfail would have gone nowhere if the gay romance authors hadn’t had a tight network online.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail