By Sharon Eberson / Tuesday, Sept. 23
The magazine was flashing at me, as if I were having a vision of one Daily Prophet newspaper amid all the Muggle publications on the newstand, minus the presence of a boy wizard.
I didn't see the flashing image first, mind you. My eye was first drawn to the iconic Marilyn Monroe image - her heavily made-up face, nothing more -- that adorned the Vanity Fair 25th anniversary edition.
"What's with the cover, you ask?" editor Graydon Carter writes, anticipating readers' question. "Why no current movie star? Or a Kennedy? Or a giant ‘25'? Because Marilyn Monroe, although dead 46 years, still casts a pretty long shadow as one of the most obsessively studied public figures of the last half-century."
Carter titled his Editor's Letter: "From the Jazz Age to Our Age."
Esquire, the scene of the aforementioned flashing image, was celebrating its 75th anniversary. The flashing letters say: The 21st Century Begins Now."
I bought them both.
The explanation for Esquire's venture into Harry Potter territory is on page 73, under the title "If Your Cover Is Not Flashing." It said:
"Don't worry. It's not you. Most copies of this issue don't [flash]. But we have also published an experimental limited edition of this issue that features something called electronic ink, with moving words and flashing images. It is available at some major bookstores and newsstands. And although its content is identical to that of the regular edition, we created the special cover to demonstrate a revolutionary technology that will change the way we all read paper magazines in the years ahead."
My Esquire, bought at the Waterfront Barnes & Noble, continues to flash two weeks later - it has a 90-day battery life, the magazine says. It's certainly a curiosity, one that apparently was seven years in the making and started life in Shanghai before making its way through processes in Dallas, Mexico and finally to Glasgow, Kentucky, where it was bound for shipping and made it's way to Pittsburgh, where I picked it up for a mere $5.99, minus discount.
It's not quite The Daily Prophet, in which all of the pictures move as if in video, but the possibilities seem like a huge flash-forward for publishing.