E Ink partners with Progress Technologies to deliver a new comic book experience


E Ink Holdings, a leading innovator of electronic ink technology based in Billerica, Massachusetts, announced its partnership with Progress Technologies Inc., a technical service for design development, to bring E Ink’s ePaper modules to a first-of-its-kind E-Manga solution, the eOneBook.  Developed for readers who prefer paperback comic books to tablets, the eOneBook combines an entire volume of manga comics into a single device using E Ink’s low-power, high contrast paper-like display.

Japanese manga comics have drastically grown in popularity year-over-year, accounting for US$3.91 bn in physical and digital sales in 2016. Of that total, digital manga alone represented US$1.28bn. While the sales of eBooks have stabilised in some markets, the Japanese market has seen steady growth. Japan's Research Laboratory of the Publishing Science revealed that the eBook market increased by 13.2% in 2016, totaling 25.8bn yen in sales.

“With the increasing popularity of manga comics, avid readers are clamouring for a convenient solution that can store their collections in one location for easy, on-the-go reading. However, they have found that current market options do not offer the same benefits that only their paper counterparts can provide,” said Toru Konishi, executive director at Progress Technologies. “Typical LCD screens often distort or fail to convey the fine details of comic book art and many readers experience eye fatigue after long periods of staring at the screen. To address these issues, we saw an opportunity to partner with E Ink to use their ePaper technology to create a solution that could house an entire manga collection on one device, while preserving the experience of reading a paper comic book.”

The eOneBook solution is made up of two (2) 7.28” E Ink electronic paper displays (EPDs) enclosed in a paper casing, resembling the desired look and feel of a paperback comic book. The device features both Japanese and English language settings, the ability to loan comic books to others and is expected to ship in April 2018 with a planned retail price of 37 800 Japanese Yen.

“As we have seen with many of our applications, customers choose E Ink technology because it gives the sense that they are reading actual paper,” said Dr Paul Apen, chief strategy officer at E Ink. “With manga comics growing at such a rapid rate, we knew that this was a market we needed to enter and felt that our displays provided a natural fit. We are excited to collaborate with Progress Technologies to create a unique device that uses our advanced ePaper technology, while mirroring the appearance of fans’ favourite comic books.”

The first manga E-Cartoon collection will be the “Hokuto-no-Ken” (Fist of the North Star) series. All 246 chapters and 18 volumes of the manga series will be accessible on the device.

Caption: A comic book with E Ink’s technology (photo: E Ink)

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