The 21st Century Begins Now will flash from the cover of the world's first electronic magazine due to appear on newspaper stands in the US late September to celebrate Esquire magazine's 75th year. About 13% of Esquire magazines in September will carry the display, showing an advertisement for a Ford vehicle.
An early version of the cover had a cord sticking out that attached to a battery pack. The new version will have the battery embedded into the magazine cover which will be used to power the display which will flash "the 21st Century Begins Now."
David Granger, Esquire's editor in chief said in a recent interview. "Magazines have basically looked the same for 150 years. I have been frustrated with the lack of forward movement in the magazine industry."
The electronic display uses E Ink's Vizplex technology which is the same technology used in Amazon's electronic reading device, Kindle. Ink is printed onto a sheet of plastic film that is laminated to a layer of circuitry. The circuitry forms a pattern of pixels that can then be controlled by a display driver. These microcapsules are suspended in a liquid "carrier medium" allowing them to be printed using existing screen printing processes onto virtually any surface, including glass, plastic, fabric and paper.
Normally digitizing information would make things cheaper but this was not the case for Esquire as they had to change their manufacturing and logistics chain and make a six-figure investment to hire an engineer in China to develop a battery small enough to be inserted in the magazine cover. The battery which has a lifespan of 90 days and display case were manufactured and put together in China then shipped to Texas and forwarded to Mexico where they were inserted into the magazines by hand. The issues were transported to the distribution centre by refrigerated trucks to preserve the batteries.
To cover the increased costs of the process, Esquire found a sponsor in Ford who will take out a moving display advertisement on the inside cover which will use the same technology to promote their new minivan-sport utility vehicle, the Flex.
Out of the circulation of 720,000, only 100,000 issues will have the electronic cover displayed at news-stands around the US.
For more on electronic paper attend Printed Electronics USA 2008.