E-inking the Kindle

Now that Oprah has a Kindle, it’s the biggest thing to happen to publishing since…well, a long time.

The secret behind Kindle is a technology developed at MIT.  It’s from a company named E-Ink.

It was about 1999 or 2000 when I first heard of E-ink.  We were invited to pitch a project for them around this marvelous new technology.  And it was marvelous.  The idea that you could have something as thin as paper and infinitely reusable…well, that’s pretty incredible.  Some of the early applications were around in-store signage, point-of-purchasing.  The idea was to immediately change pricing or specials or send a message to shoppers at stores around the country simultaneously.  No more tearing down the old materials and setting up new ones.

The ideas that the client and our team came up with where a lot of fun.  What if they ran a full page ad in the New Yorker during the holiday season?  What if a dress was made out of E-ink?  How about greeting cards?  Also the ideas were impractical given the state of the technology and the costs.  The branding ideas were just too early.  The timing wasn’t right.

Here we are, a decade later and the technology is ready for prime time.  Certainly it is ready for Oprah!  Now when I play with my Kindle I keep thinking of all the great and clever things that E-ink can do with the technology.  Perhaps they are ready for that branding project after all.

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