US Esquire tries electronic magazine cover

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Magazines with covers that flash an electric signal to attract buyers will soon be appearing on American news-stands.

The first will be the cover of the September issue of Esquire, which the New York Times reports will flash the message “The 21st Century Begins Now”.

It’s the idea of Esquire editor in chief David Granger, who admits it is something of a gimmick, already in use in supermarket displays, but one that has not yet been tried in publishing.

The secret is a miniscule battery. small enough to be inserted into a magazine’s cover pages, which Hearst, publisher of Esquire, helped finance.  It was developed – and is now being produced – in China. The batteries  are inserted in the magazine at a plant in Mexico.  One problem is that although tiny they have to be inserted in the magazines by hand. And  the copies have to be kept chilled until they reach the distributors.

It means that only about  100,000  copies of the magazine that reach news-stands will carry the electronic message. That’s about a seventh of  Esquire’s  overall circulation of about 720,000.

Helping bear some of the additional cost is the Ford Motor Company, which will have an advertisement inside the magazine cover using the same technology to promote a new mini sports vehicle that seems to be actually  driving across the page.

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