Esquire’s battery-powered gimmick cover should be unplugged

One might think I’d be all gung-ho about Esquire experimenting with a digital cover using the eInk technology that powers eBook readers like the Kindle. Sorry to disappoint you: I think it is nothing more than a goofy gimmick. In much the same way I believe it is folly to under-utilize new media by attempting to make it replicate old media, I think it is an even greater folly when old-media people think what’s special about new media is the way it blinks.

It’s like when parents think they can better communicate with their kids by resorting to teenage slang. Or, worse, friending them on FaceBook. The result is nothing but embarrassment to all involved.

Rather than displaying how ridiculous it is to suggest “this is the future of paper,” Esquire editors should be displaying how traditional, un-interactive, un-digital, un-batteried, un-gimmicked magazines are a wonderful medium.

Esquire used to know that. Esquire used to celebrate that. Esquire used to be a monument to how great the magazine medium can be. Its editors and publishers should be embarrassed with the notion that the “21st Century starts” because they place some flashing, spam-like message on the cover.

They should spend their money on great photography and great writing. That’s what makes great magazines. That’s what used to make Esquire great. Gimmicks don’t.

  • Love the analogies. Heh! I’ll go read the link to figure out what you were talking about here. Had to read it twice before realizing you were leaving that story behind the link… as it should be 🙂

  • Agreed here too. What a surprise. I am a big e-ink fan and believe that flexible e-ink substrates will be a major part of the future of new golden age of publishing. But this is just “silly”. Blinking lights, and sound chips embedded into greeting cards. It does not help the cause but rather diminishes the validity of professional publishing in a sad way.

    Of course, if you keep in mind that Hearst is a major investor/owner in e-ink technology then perhaps there is more here than meets the e-eye. Hearst will soon announce progress in their First–Paper project, which is e-ink based.

  • Bo, your info regarding Hearst’s investment in e-ink makes this a lot more clear.