Esquire 'beta tests' an animated magazine cover

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, ever-urbane magazine Esquire will include "disposable" electronic paper display (EPD) panels in its October 2008 issue.

The same magazine that has featured John Wayne with angel wings, and Muhammad Ali as St. Sebastian, proclaims "The 21st Century Begins Now," with its E Ink cover insert. The display is provided by E Ink Corp., the company responsible for providing displays for every other commercially available "e-paper" device.

As the technology matures, we have begun to see it used in increasingly innovative ways, such as in Seiko's E Ink ring, and Lexar's JumpDrive capacity meters. Esquire's cover will not only be the first printed periodical to integrate the technology into its pages, but it will also be the first example of disposable E Ink displays -- although whether readers truly want to throw this one away, remains to be tested.

With a battery life of around 90 days, the optional E Ink cover will add only a $2 premium to Esquire's $3.99 cover price. With the standard cover, Esquire's anniversary issue will cost an additional $1 as well. Anniversary issues of any magazine typically run with premiums, though with an estimated circulation of 725,000, and 100,000 special EPD cover issues for sale, Esquire expects to in $925,000 extra revenue in October.

The first widely published magazine with E-ink's display technology: the October 2008 issue of Esquire.

In addition to the 10-square inch panel on the front cover, Ford Motor company will have an animated ad for its Flex "crossover" vehicle inside the anniversary issue as well.

Esquire's publisher, Hearst Corp., is one of E Ink Corporation's major investors, along with Intel, Motorola, Philips, and others. Hearst has a nine-month exclusive agreement with E Ink for the technology, so publications under its brand -- which includes 25 newspapers and almost 30 magazines -- will be the first and only places to find such technology. Popular Mechanics seems a likely candidate for the next iteration.

However, since Hearst is not disclosing how much money has been spent on the design and manufacture of these displays, nor is it saying how much Ford paid for its tie-in E Ink advertisement in the issue, this could have been such a burdensome undertaking that we may not see a repeat any time soon.

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