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With the arrival of e-paper, the entire graphics chain is now digitized. The final link in this chain to go digital, paper constituted the last bottleneck in the way of an entirely digital technical system able to respond to the emergence of new communications usages associated with the converging of new medium around the Internet. A new technical system is thus now in motion, with a new economic model and a new culture equipped with a new language and new occupation. This process began at the office-technology and photocopier levels, subsequently giving rise to reprography and then digital printing in parallel with the development of offset printing, in comparison with typography, and, lastly, computerization at the societal level. Analog printing thus coexists with the digitizing process resulting from the "all-in-one" digital revolution.

Indeed, three production modes correspond to three distinct technologial eras: the era of conventional printing, the era of digital and Internet-related printing, with printing on request and zero stock, and, lastly, the "all-electronic" era. Previously, data were printed and disseminated. Today, the same data are disseminated and may be printed. E-paper means the end of the need to print and has become the final interface of a totally electionic process. This new medium will result in the disappearance of the conventional form of printing but not the end of data dissemination. The form will change, but the substance will not. Like Hermes, the Greek god of commerce and messenger for the other gods, a mediator will always be needed. Like the phonix, this mediator dies only to be reborn in a different form - constantly, eternally. Information - received or disseminated - drives innovation, spurring us humans to adapt to our environment and to our society with respect to our relationships with others.

In order to keep pace, printers must first redefine their role and integrate developing communication media into this role. At every stage of history, depending upon the particular social, economic or political context, each new situation has led to the emergence of new roles, new occupations and new technological disruptions. The power of the gesture, of the word and of oral memory associated with direct communication gave way to the "writing master" and indirect communication. Thus began humanless history and memory associated with the "master printer" and today's "image master". The "image master" must be able to manage an entire range of communications media and multimedia forms of expression and reintroduce direct oral communication conditions. Writing also constitutes an image, but the meaning we give it has evolved. Today, the hypertext, symbolic interaction, the Internet, sound and video approach the ultimate communication model - reproduction of human communication and people's natural abilities to communicate.

Convergence and mobility will endeavour to imitate people and their ability to control and master time and space simultaneously and spontaneously. The ultimate model remains the human brain and the different senses it unites around consiousness to meet specific objectives. Today, this model technically finds expression in technological convergence made possible by digitalization, which will eliminate borders between occupations and between various forms of know - how and technologies as the effort is made to acquire people's natural capacity to communicate.


“What we are looking for from e-paper,” explained Jacques Angelé(1), director of technological programs at Nemoptic, founded in 1998, “is for it to retain information indefinitely without the need for a power supply, as is the case with conventional paper.”

E-Ink is the best-known firm in the field, but since the time of the initial experiments conducted by Nick Sheridon, who in the early 1970s invented, for Xerox, the Gyricon, the first reusable electronic paper, many e-papers have been developed. Other technologies have, however, followed and quickly evolved.

For now, there exist two technological families of this virtual mechanism for the display process. The first, associated with the E-Ink firm, involves particle (electrophoretic) technology used by Bridgestone (Japan), SiPix (Taiwan), Plastic Logic (UK), the Sony reader and the iRex reader in France (for the Les Échos newspaper and the Orange company), and, in the US, the Amazon reader, Kindle 1, 2 and DX.

The second technological family is based on liquid crystals and used by Nemoptic (France) and Kent Displays (US). It is largely the result of the work of Pierre-Gilles de Gennes with the Orsay group, researchers at Université d’Orsay and CNRS, who determined the essentials regarding liquid crystal physics.

The researchers filed patent requests with respect to BiNem technology, leading to creation of Nemoptic, the only French firm to have developed its own interactive reader, the SYLEN, equipped with a Nemoptic e-paper screen for reading newspapers and books.

Contrary to E-Ink, which, Jacques Angelé explained, must encapsulate the electrophoretic material to maintain good resolution (at the price, however, of a certain drop in contrast), Nemoptic uses a uniform layer of “bistable” liquid crystal placed between two substrates. This technology is original in that it uses a memory effect made possible by Nemoptic’s development of specific liquid crystals and bistable alignment materials. The liquid crystal may present two textures – uniform or twist – moved at will to display either black or white. The display persists when the power is cut: this is the basic principle behind e-paper.

Each technology has its advantages and disadvantages, in particular with regard to industrial processes. The stakes are high: according to an iSuppli(2) study released on June 9, 2008, Kindle is only the beginning(3). The flex screen industry is expected to boom between now and 2013 Analysts project that the Global Flexible Display Revenue Forecast will jump from US$80M to US$2.8 billion in 2013.

Fernand Baudin (4) writes that, soon after the Second World War, Louis Moyroud and René Higonnet (1902-1983) caused an upheaval in the field of mechanical writing comparable to that which Gutenberg caused around 1440 when he replaced ink and quill with ink and lead. Moyroud and Higonnet replaced lead with light – a system based on the combining of ultra-rapid photography and binary calculation. This mechanized-writing revolution ushered in a process that nuclear physicians had known, since 1938, as “dematerialization”. Henri-Jean Martin (5) states that this invention shifted typography from a mechanical to an electronic process. However, we believe that the roots of dematerialization go back to the 19th century and the beginnings of applying photography to lithography.

At the time, Maximilien Vox, visionary and founder of the « Rencontres internationales de Lure » in 1952 and of the French magazine Caractère, announced “the death of Gutenberg”. Engineer Nick Sheridon, working at the Xerox research centre in Palo Alto, California around 1970, and Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, collaborating with the Orsay group between 1990 and 1995, have perhaps proved him right by giving light a new medium...

(1) Jérôme Bouteiller, interview, « Jacques Angelé, l’essor du papier électronique est inéluctable» (there’s no stopping e-paper). [www.neteco.com], Jan. 19, 2007.

(2) ”Flexible Display Market to Expand by Factor of 35 from 2007 to 2013” [http://www.isuppli.com/news] June 9, 2008.

(3) David DeJean, ”The future of e-paper: The Kindle is only the beginning”, ibid.

(4) Fernand Baudin, « L’effet Johnston », in Elly Cockx-Indestege, F. Hendrickx and C. Coppens, E Codicibus Impressisque : Opstellen Over Het Boek In de Lage Landen Voor, Louvain, Peeters, 2004, pp. 601-630.

(5) Henri-Jean Martin, « Préface », in Alan Marshall, Du plomb à la lumière, Paris, Éditions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 2003, p. 19.

Technological enhancing

EPC @ Partners is dedicated to e-paper and the development of diverse media – from print to e-screen technology - towards convergence and mobility.

The firm is dedicated to supporting the industrial development of these various media in the move towards the new post-industrial economy. We seek to further enhance our understanding of the relevant mechanisms and implications in order to fully explain this technological development to professionals in the publishing industry and the news media, the print and traditional media sectors, and public and private institutions, as well as to private individuals.

EPC @ Partners provides technology-watch, research, and scientific- and technical-development services.

Drawing upon its expertise in the graphics-chain fields, the firm also provides analysis services involving the data dematerialization process, ranging from print media to electronic media.

EPC @ Partners also organizes events such as seminars and trade shows, and provides advertising control and/or related services (public relations, media-buying agencies, media representatives, display advertising, mass mailings, distribution of e-paper and e-books, advertising materials, advertising distributors), as well as product representation services relating to the industry and graphics communications sectors.

In addition, the firm offers other advertising-related services, as well as the creation of information media with respect to e-paper development in national and international markets.


EPC @ Partners, a digital-and-networks-era company, makes available to you its founder’s skills and abilities, as well as those provided by an extended network of associate consultants active in the print and e-paper industry able to help you adapt to the market’s new ground rules.

• Accompaniment in the dematerialization of the graphics chain and data transport

• Specialists and experts regarding the graphics chain, from print to e-paper

• Study upon request

• Distribution of e-books
• Representation of products for the industry and graphics communication industries sector

• Designer of trade shows involving e-paper and the digital process : E-PaperWorld, international e-print and e-book conference
• Animator and designer of e-paper displays

• Publisher, creation of e-information multimedia supports, journals, magazines, newsletters

• Technological watch (e-paper)
• E-paper and e-book markets, geographical areas, manufacturers
• Documentation


• Studies of the development of information and communications technologies and of epistemological discourse on the media on the basis of technological developments
• Portraits of media entrepreneurs and media fims
• Professional and academic meetings within the French-speaking sphere
• Developement of an e-paper and e-book-dedicated website
• Creation of E-PaperWorld Magazine, periodic specialized newsletters (by subscription) and a newletter concerning a regular technology-watch initiative
• Accompaniment regarding the dissemination of e-paper and its variations within the French-Speaking sphere and internationaly
• Study of impact on the paper industry and the publishing world, the daily press and magazines
• Study of applications in the education sector
• Developement of expertise with respecte to the new economic and management model


• Post-doctoral research: Canadian research chair - the history of the book and publishing at Université de Sherbrooke; Quebecor industrial research chair, printing and graphics communication, of the new integrated pulp-and-paper centre at Université du Québec in Trois-Rivières

• Franco-Canadian conference: « La bataille de l’imprimé à l’ère du numérique » (the print industry’s struggle in the digital era) (Sept. 2006) and « Le futur du média imprimé » (the future of print media) in connection with a forestry-research gathering held at Palais des congrès de Québec in Sept. 2007


• "La bataille de l’imprimé à l’ère du papier électronique" (book on the print industry’s struggle in the e-paper era), Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, Nov. 2008

• Organization of « La bataille de l’imprimé à l’ère du papier électronique, convergence et mobilité » (the print industry’s struggle in the era of e-paper, convergence and mobility) March 12, 2009 at CNAM in Paris


• Le fondateur de la presse moderne, Marinoni (1823-1904) (Marinoni, the founder of the modern press (1823-1904), Paris, Harmattan (2009)


E-PaperWorld 2009
International conference of the print and e-book
Convergence and mobilité
Septembre 30 and Octobre 1

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