On Esquire's Stupid E-Ink Cover

I love stupid gimmicks, don't get me wrong. But this cover is one of the worst ideas I've heard from a publication in awhile. Said the editor to the NYTimes: "Magazines have basically looked the same for 150 years," Mr. Granger said. "I have been frustrated with the lack of forward movement in the magazine industry." Maybe you should like, invest in putting premium content on your website, or in E-books sold on Amazon instead of spending six figures to design a battery small enough to fit into an magazine cover that will only last 90 days, without any major refreshing of content. They might as well have used one of those hologram stickers found in 25-cent vending machines in the 80's.

This is really slick in some ways—as far as attention goes—but the bigger thing it shows is the terrible lack of understanding that most magazine editors have in dealing with the digital future of their publications. I mean, for Christ's sake, their website has categorized their first two links as "women" and THEN features. This is Esquire!

To me and many others, Esquire is a legendary publication best known for its features and covers, but they've seen better days. (This year they won no national magazine awards.) I remember when I was at Wired, we proudly did a Banksy feature, before he was easy to find and unmasked and all that. Esquire assigned a feature later on, and word is that the writer had the balls to ask the Wired writer for a contact. (He said no.) The Esquire feature ended up being 3000 words about the writer hunting for Banksy by going into a few bars and asking if anyone knew him. There wasn't enough meat to run a front of book piece, let alone a feature. I don't know how this happens. I stopped reading Esquire regularly shortly after that, and even though I flip through my subscription (I get a lot of magazines I end up skimming 'til I find great content), I can't remember the last piece that really blew my mind, nor has there been a cover that had the editorial weight of those from the past, like the one of Ali being shot by arrows after his draft dodging problems.

So, Esquire, I'm glad you're reaching for boldness again, but don't fucking waste your budget on shit like this, trying to get into the Smithsonian with a trick. If you're trying to create a relic, good job. But to make history again, you're going to have to have a clearer understanding of the future of publishing and what your under-30 readers really want from you digitally. In the mean time, enjoy the press.

[NYT]