Alert! Karen Michelle Brooks has become the first South African – and indeed the first author – to publish a book on MXit, the 13 million-strong mobile phone-based social network that is dominated, in SA at least, by teenage users.
Her novel, a fantasy work called Emily and the Battle of the Veil, can be downloaded for just R13.50 – or 50 Moola per chapter, Moola being the official MXit currency (MXit users: navigate to Tradepost > MXit Mix > Entertainment > Mbooks). The book is downloaded straight to the phone upon purchase. (It’s not actually delivered as an SMS, but the idea helps one grasp the concept.)
Brooks said, in a press release sent out by MXit this morning, “MBooks is the evolution of eBook. I thought that access to books via a digital medium was a great way to give everybody access to my novel. More importantly, Emily and the Battle of the Veil is suited to teenagers and I wanted to make it accessible to them – hoping that it will foster a love for reading and writing.”
Emily and the Battle of the Veil will be followed closely by Emily and the Sprites of Light, due out next month – both part of the Emily and the Scroll of Seven series. Here’s the blurb for Veil:
Emily and the Battle of the Veil, is the start of the spiritual journey of Emily May Harrison, who at the age of 12 is sent to boarding school in Kingstown, after having lived all her life in the small village of Paradise Beach, with her Gran, Mamasita and her best friend, Sam. Unaware that she is part of something bigger, she begins to learn that Thoughts are Things.
In Kingstown, she meets up with the sassy, spiky-haired street-kid Josh (her guide in worlds known and unknown), his mother Miriam (who knows things) and the mountainous, jolly, long-nosed Edwina who owns (what looks outwardly like) a bookstore.
Having dreamt about them for years, it is in Kingstown that Emily finally comes face to face with her Shimmers: Pugly (a phenomenal flyer and teacher), Elvis (a jiggly, wiggly handful) and The Elder (a being of substance), who live in a parallel world called Aurana.
But in finding her Shimmers, and crossing over into Aurana, she starts a chain of events, where the Balance is threatened. Emily becomes visible to Admonai, of the Shadows and Admonai’s side-kick, Silenkis, using his Circles of Influence, seeks to use the Lost Ones to harm her.
- To download MXit: Open your mobile browser, type in www.mxit.com/wap and follow the prompts
- Visit MXit.com for a PC-only download
The story has been run fairly widely on IT websites, but has received scant coverage on book sites so far. Given the potential sales – if even a fraction of MXit’s users buy Brooks’ book, it will count as a world bestseller – the development is something for publishers to pay attention to. The book’s latent distribution advantages could see it outstrip other E-book models quite rapidly: social context supplied by MXit’s system, which in turn has built-in viral potential.