BoSacks Speaks Out: On E-Ink, Esquire and Mankind
I am sitting here with my copy of the October issue of Esquire with the now famous e-ink cover. I thought I would take a moment to reflect on what it is and what it isn't.
So what is it? It is a flashing billboard on the cover of a magazine. It flashes the message "The 21st century begins now." It's somewhat glitzy and underutilizes the real possibilities and significance of e-paper. But it is important to note that it is real e-paper, and it has gone completely through the magazine manufacturing cycle of being printed upon, manhandled, bound, stacked on skids and shipped across the county. That alone is worth several kudos to those who know and understand the manufacturing and distribution process.
I would also like to point out that I went to four large newsstand/bookstores in Manhattan and all were sold out. Kudos again to the PR and press for the coverage of this unique publishing event.
My real disappointment is the exploitation of the product itself. I'm sure there is enough memory on whatever chip is in there to have displayed some actual text in a more creative and expressive way as to why the 21st century begins now, but it doesn't. It only uses large headline type to broadcast and blink its message. E-ink is capable of more, much more. And just to confuse the issue further there is a plastic layer over the e-ink that deadens the contrast of the product. The plastic is there is give the illusion that the e-paper is in four color. It is not. The four color is printed on the plastic overlay. That was an unnecessary "fake out." Why tout the greatness of e-paper and then diminish the final reading results of the product itself? Is it a demonstration of design over function?
I am a patient man and delighted to see this technology finally come into the public's peripheral vision. This is the first time that e-ink is on/in a magazine and as such it is the beginning of something very important for readers and publishers alike. With the success of the Kindle, the Irex Iliad, the Sony e-reader and other new e-reading products soon to be released, it is one small step for e-ink and a giant leap for reading mankind.