Esquire Magazine Cover is Digital for 75th Anniversary

If you can’t bring your magazine readers to the digital, bring the digital to your magazine readers?

Esquire 75th Anniversary Digital Magazine Cover

If you compare the website traffic for Esquire magazine to its competitors Men’s Health and GQ, you’ll see that they’re always on the low end with about 250,000 unique visitors while skyrockets around 800,000 and while GQ and Details siblings get about 560,000 UVs per month (according to Compete).

Well if you can’t make your print subscribers go digital, heck why don’t you bring the digital to them? So in the 75th Anniversary issue of Esquire for October, the cover is made from digital e-paper (and mostly funded from a Ford advertisement on the second page).

What does this mean? Really, just some blinking and rotating text. The cover kind of resembles that of the Amazon Kindle except it’s not linked to a wireless network so it can’t be updated (now that’s the future).

“For the last couple of years I’ve been in search of ways to do something that shows that print is a particularly vital product,” said Esquire magazine’s editor-in-chief, David Granger. “I really do think that print is the most exciting and rewarding medium there is.”

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According to BoingBoing:

Should the Esquire cover make a splash, other advertisers will be willing to underwrite the use of e-paper in other magazines.

As long as they’re Hearst magazines, that is. Hearst, Esquire’s publisher, has brokered a one-year exclusivity with eInk, the e-paper manufacturer.

The Boston Globe reports:

A computer chip allows the 10-square-inch display to present parts of the phrase in succession before the entire sentence blinks together.

That technology originated in Cambridge at E Ink Corp., where the Esquire project was seen as one step toward a paperless future.

Joel Johnson of BoingBoing says, “What’s dying is paper. And it’s about time. Esquire should be lauded for having the grit to put a project like this together; it certainly sounds like it was a real pain in the ass to get right.”

Here’s a video of the Esquire 75th Anniversary cover.

Scott Daly, a Dentsu America Inc. executive who oversees media buying for Canon, Toyota, and other companies, said the concept is a needed shot in the arm for the newspaper and magazine industry according to

“A lot of people will say that there isn’t that much excitement in the magazine world, but this proves that there can be,” Daly said.

So what is this fancy issue selling for? They’re only printing 100,000 copies of the issue with the e-paper cover. Those copies will go for $2 more than usual, making them $5.99 each. However, regular issues will still go for $1 more than regular price at $4.99. Esquire’s circulation is roughly 725,000.

Also according to

Granger believes e-paper is the technology to finally usher magazines into the 21st century.

“I treasure the magazine experience of, like, going into this little world that’s been prepared for you by somebody else,” Granger said. “It’s not like the Web, where there’s just this constant cacophony of noise.”

E-paper, Granger said, can incorporate digital technology into magazines without making them unrecognizable. “It preserves that experience but then it adds a little something else,” he said, “a little incentive to spend even more time with your magazine.”

We think e-paper has some way to go from flashing graphics and rotating text before it’s recognized as the way of the future; but it certainly has potential.


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