Last September, Esquire raised eyebrows with its release of an “E-ink” 75th anniversary cover, which featured a digital display on the front of the Hearst publication, as well as a digitized ad for Ford on the inside cover. Cheap gimmick or the future of print journalism?
Well, at least it wasn’t a one-time trick. A year later, Esquire is back with another attempt at bringing technology into print, instead of the other way around.
Esquire‘s December issue will work with a piece of technology called augmented reality, which can meld real-life images with overlaying forms of media. According to The Wall Street Journal, you can expect the issue to include black and white “web stickers” that when held up to a Web camera will trigger a video playback. Positioning the magazine at different angles will produce different video segments. For example: holding the magazine up to the computer at different angles will affect how you view a fashion spread featuring actor Jeremy Renner — you can see him putting on different outfits as the climate around him shifts with the publication’s position before your camera.
Once again, we have our doubts about the long-term sustainability of these new technologies on the ailing magazine industry. First of all, the E-ink issue raised the price of single-issue sales at a time when consumers were less willing to pay for print. Secondly, it strikes us as a bit idealistic to think that technology will move backward: instead of focusing on building a more interactive Web site for a magazine, a publisher makes its print media more tech-savvy. Even the coolest augmented reality video piece still relies on readers going on the Web to experience the new way to view the magazine. But, as Esquire‘s editor-in-chief David Granger readily admits, “It is a gimmick, but we’re an entertainment medium.”
Esquire Flirts With Digital Reality — Wall Street Journal