Back in April, Esquire editor David Granger told the Observer he had no worries that the Internet would make magazines unnecessary, as, arguably, it has done with newspapers. But if magazines want to flourish in the Internet age they have to capitalize on the direct, textural experience they provide that the Internet can’t.
“Magazines have to become more magaziney rather than less magaziney,” said Mr. Granger back then. “There are things you can do with your cover where the paper will actually fold into different shapes—this cool experience that will let you do novel editorial things, but it’s all very expensive.”
But he likely already had in mind something far more elaborate than an origami cover—like, a flashing, battery-operated cover!
The Times‘ Tim Arango writes today that Esquire will have an electronic cover for its September issue that will flash the words, “the 21st Century Begins Now.”
It won’t come cheap. Arango writes:
First Esquire had to make a six-figure investment to hire an engineer in China to develop a battery small enough to be inserted in the magazine cover. The batteries and the display case are manufactured and put together in China. They are shipped to Texas and on to Mexico, where the device is inserted by hand into each magazine. The issues will then be shipped via trucks, which will be refrigerated to preserve the batteries, to the magazine’s distributor in Glazer, Ky.
“We are trying to combine a 21st-century technology with a 19th-century manufacturing process,” Mr. Granger said.
All of this, of course, is expensive. Which is why it was necessary for Esquire to find a sponsor. In stepped Ford Motor, which will have an advertisement on the inside of the cover that will use the same technology to promote its new minivan-sport utility vehicle, the Flex.
Perhaps Esquire wouldn’t allow it to be photographed, but for so much talk of the 21st century there are no images or videos of a mock-up.
Mr. Granger also said: “I hope it will be in the Smithsonian.”
A little soon to banish this magazine to the reliquary!
On the other hand, maybe tiny batteries and flashing lights belong there already, as relics of the 20th?