Esquire magazine’s e-ink cover

To celebrate their 75th birthday, the October cover of Esquire magazine features an ‘e-ink’ cover created by E Ink, an American company founded in 1997 based on research started at the MIT Media .

The Esquire cover is pretty basic from a functionality perspective, simply flashing a message exclaiming ‘the 21st Century Begins Now’ on the cover and an animated ad inside. There doesn’t appear to be any interactivity at all. It’s bit of a ‘look what we can do’ gag as opposed to actually advancing magazine publication beyond what they were doing 150 years ago.

This throws up an interesting debate about the future of print vs. the web and how much people still like to read a physical object or whether they prefer the interactivity of the web. Think Amazon’s Kindle (also an E Ink product) or the Plastic Logic Reader.

Sadly it’s in the US only, but judging by the logistics involved (refrigerated shipping!) I’m not surprised.

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2 Responses to Esquire magazine’s e-ink cover

  1. james walters says:

    With the growing acceptance of downloads could this a ‘too little too late’ gimmick from print publishers fighting online content that’s , mostly, free to the consumer?

    Much though I hate to put a downer on the technical innovation, there is something rather concerning about the environmental consequences. Last week there was a report that summer Arctic ice will be gone within 10 years, How planet saving is a magazine cover that features a battery, probably various chemicals, metals and plastics, is assembled is 2 countries and requires refrigerated transport to the news stand? It’s not the first time the question has been asked but, at when and how should designers start acting in an environmentally conscious way? When the client is paying, is it possible?

  2. simonianson says:

    You’re absolutely right James. The environmental impact of this cover must be multiple times that of the standard cover. And for what, really? I have a post in the pipeline on how design can help minimise our usage of materials in packaging in particular.

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