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Will Esquire's Cover Really 'Revolutionize' the Way We Read Magazines?

Granger: 'This is the most important issue of my 11 years at Esquire.'

Jason Fell By Jason Fell
09/08/2008 -23:19 PM

Truly revolutionary. A breakthrough issue. Historic. A game-changer. A milestone in the publishing industry.

That's how a gushing vice president and publisher Kevin O'Malley described Esquire's much-hyped 75th anniversary issue cover—the first to use flexible electronic "paper"—during a press conference in New York City Monday.

Editor-in-chief David Granger—a frequent proponent of innovation—called the issue "a beginning."

"As Esquire does this again, and as more Hearst magazines get into the act, I think the versatility of digital, of flexible display technology, can be a stunning enhancement to what the print medium does," said Granger. In a July interview with FOLIO:, Granger said that electronic paper display technology could revolutionize the way people read magazines.

The electronic cover (100,000 copies are available only on newsstands) is made up of microcapsules that contain black and white pigment which rise to the surface of the flexible plastic cover when a charge is added. The batteries, Esquire says, should last six to eight months.

The Technology Behind Esquire's Flashing Cover

But is this blinking cover really the future of magazines? I find it hard to believe. Who needs a blinking magazine when devices like the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader do, in essence, the same thing, and neatly updated news—something magazine publishers say will be one of the uses of e-paper—is already available on smartphones?

That said, the Esquire cover is pretty cool, and, more importantly, an effective publicity gimmick for an anniversary issue that happens to feature some great editorial, too.

"This is the most important issue of my 11 years at Esquire," Granger told me after the conference. "I want to call as much attention as I can to that."


Jason Fell By Jason Fell --

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