I recently finished writing a non-fiction book about the problem of "closed-ness" of Japan. It started with my Japanese blog - I wrote many entries about the matter, in which a Japanese publisher took an interest, and they contacted me. So my book - "Isolated in Paradise" - has a touch of UGC flavor, although I basically wrote the book from scratch.
In contrast, a Japanese keitai shosetsu ("mobile novel"), is already a finished product when it is done on the youngster's mobile phone screen. Young writers, mostly women, write their creative story on their cell phones and publish them on the mobile websites, little by little. Readers provide comments and wishes about the plot in on-going manner, and the writers incorporate them into their subsequent episodes. It is quite an interesting and true interactive process.
So you wonder how they type into their little cell phones? Take your teenage friends with mach-speed thumbs for text messaging, and multiply that speed by 10. Not unlike the quick lethal ninjas, those Japanese women magically manage to write in lightening speed.
My publisher explained that while a blogger-turned-writer can attract the regular readers to buy his/her book in the order of thousands, a mobile novel can be sold in one-digit higher volume, with little or no promotion.
In 2007, one of the best-seller books in Japan was a mobile novel "Koizora" (literally "love sky"), with more than a million copies sold. And I can see more of those coming - such a low-cost, low-risk and high-volume powerful genre is truly a "paradise" for mostly-struggling Japanese publishers.
Those over 30, who have no ninja-like thumb-skills, have to stick to the traditional, less-powerful way of writing. Darn!