Have You Started Planning for E-Paper?
Sometimes I think our industry tries to predict the future by looking at the past and assumes that if its holds its collective breath long enough, the conditions will remain constant. This is like driving a car by looking in the rear-view mirror. Where you have been is not necessarily a good predictor of where you are going. But it can be enlightening, if you know where to look.
Let’s, for a paragraph or two, intentionally look in the rear-view mirror. In the 1970s, magazines were still setting type using hot lead. In the early 1980s, long-run magazines were still printing with letterpresses—the same letterpress technology Gutenberg invented 500 years ago. In the 1990s, we learned to make digital plates that gave us unheard of speed and accuracy. Now, in the 21st century, we have adapted into an entirely new phase of publishing, exploring new and more effective ways of distributing information in the digital universe.
We now have the ability to deliver information to multiple platforms in an instant and on a global basis. We must no longer consider ourselves publishers, printers, journalists and media professionals; we are information distributors.
New information delivery methods, combined with the potential for customization, promise to level the playing field for the industry’s established players.
E-paper ‘Ready for prime time’
One of the most exciting developments in the delivery of our franchised content is e-paper. What is e-paper? Or, perhaps I should start with, what is it not? It is not an electronic simulation of a magazine. It is not downloaded facsimiles of printed magazines, although that is an offshoot of what e-paper can produce.
E-paper is essentially a technology. To the publishing community, it will provide an electronic substrate that can be connected to the Internet and acts as an alternative to traditional paper. It’s not a replacement for all paper, but much that is printed could be reproduced by e-paper.