Magazine Error Messages: “What to Do if Your Cover Is Not Flashing”

Paper, meet pixels. Pixels, meet paper. While I have never bought a copy of Esquire magazine, as soon as I heard that there was an e-ink cover on the 75th Anniversary issue I shot over to Esquire’s site to learn more about how they did it.

It's better in flashing e-ink.

It is more fun when the cover is blinking.

(Not familiar with it? Here’s what e-ink is all about).

The link that caught my attention is the one that made one eyebrow shoot up when I realized that magazine covers now have error messages: What to Do if You Cover Is Not Flashing. This is something that Esquire readers have not had to concern themselves with for 75 years. Onward!

The real story is that it’s an amazing story of innovation. It starts to get interesting when you scroll down to the third paragraph which starts, “Yet the technology still needed a push. First E Ink and its manufacturing partner, the Nicobar Group in Shanghai , had to design circuitry thin and flexible enough to bend with the cover and small enough to draw a level of energy that would allow the battery to last for at least ninety days.” Keep reading, it’s a great story.

There is a video of the cover in action which seems rather silly since the cover just blinks but, still, it is innovative in a Times Square kind of way. For the more visual amongst us, the section about How the E-Ink Cover Was Made documents the seven year journey around the world to bring the cover to fruition.

In a fit of inspiration, this 75 year old publisher has opened up their first e-ink cover to hackers and invited them in. Hackers are actively courted in a section entitled, Can You Hack Esquire’s E-Ink Cover? In response to that question, Esquire says, “We don’t know. Well, that’s not entirely true. We know it’s possible, but we’re not exactly sure how. That’s where you come in.” This is surely good for some buzz…and maybe even something more innovative than a blinking cover.

Guttenburg smiles down on all this, I’m sure.


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