When I first saw animated photos on newspapers in the Harry Potter movies, I thought it looked interesting, but never imagined it could be made cost-effective. It looks like time has once again proven me wrong. (When the 386SX processor came out, I wondered why anyone would ever need a "server" on their desk.") Esquire magazine has reported today that it will use so-called electronic ink in its October issue celebrating its 75th anniversary.
According to publisher Hearst, the issue's cover will feature moving words and images. "We've spent 16 months making this happen," said Esquire editor David Granger in a statement. The cover will use use technology developed by a team at Amazon for its Kindle e-book reader working with manufacturer E Ink Corp., in Cambridge, Mass. Introduced in the United States in November, 2007, the Kindle stand-alone reader now sells for US$359 including access to content over Amazon's Whispernet free wireless download service. Its monochromatic "segmented display cells" exhibit simple images and alphanumeric characters on a thin film. The cover will operate on a small battery that's estimated to last about three months.
More vexing than embedding the display film onto the cover was how to make a battery small enough to hide within. Esquire reportedly had to contract a Chinese engineering firm to design such a battery. It will ship 100,000 active-cover magazines to its circulation of 720,000.
The move will surely get Esquire lots of, ahem, coverage, but at the risk of making yet another wrong prediction, I think the novelty of a crude, black-and-white cover will not last long, and it won't be until they come in color that such animated pages will make a comeback and will only catch on when they become interactive.