Japanese company Progress Technologies has launched a Kickstarter for manga lovers: a dual-screen E Ink digital reader that combines all 18 episodes of Fist of the North Star. The catch? That’s the only content it comes with. You can’t download anything else.
Called the eOneBook, the digital reader has a pair of 7.55-inch E Ink screens (at 300 PPI) and comes in a case that looks like an actual paperback manga. The designers opted for the power to come from three AAA batteries, saying the goal is to make it feel and look like a real book in as many ways as possible. “When connecting a cable to charge,” the Kickstarter page says, “you can't avoid feeling it like an electronic device.”
To that end, there are other ways the eOneBook feels like an actual book: there’s no Wi-Fi, no ports, no bookmark feature (it’s supposed to remember your last page read, but if you skip around for some reason, good luck!), and no ability to download any content other than the series the eOneBook comes with. These are all things the company is saying are pluses, which, I don’t know, could be for hardcore manga fans who want the authenticity of an actual book without having the series take up an entire bookshelf? Help me out, manga fans!
There are some features that are worth highlighting. The dual screens are tantamount for not just manga, but graphic novels, comics, and more, where the visual and reading experience can rely on interplay between pages. The eOneBook’s price, at $250, might seem pricey for something where you can’t download anything else, but it’s a bargain when you consider the cost for all 18 volumes of the manga is much more than the digital reader itself. There’s a “commitment to be bookish” with the body of the eOneBook made of paper behind the actual screens. And, with the same resolution as paper printing, the artist drawings are displayed with high contrast and sharpness.
Dual-screen E Ink digital readers have had a rough go trying to find wide audiences. They mostly find homes in niches, like the Gvideo, launched last year, meant for musicians to hold digital scores. Manga looks to be another perfect use scenario, and others agree: the eOneBook already blew past its goal of ¥3,000,000 ($26,619) and has collected ¥18,778,900 ($166,625) with 44 days to go. Progress Technologies says it has minimized risks by creating multiple prototypes that are near readiness for the eOneBook to enter mass-production. Just remember: this is still a Kickstarter, and there are always risks with crowdfunded projects.