Kindle Is Cool, but Color E-book May Save Civilization

Is the digital savior of the sagging magazine industry finally in sight?

On Wednesday, Fujitsu Frontech began selling the world’s first color e-paper e-book reader. Available on April 20 in Japan only, the gadget costs 99,970 yen, or more than $1,000.

Until now, e-books like the Amazon (AMZN) Kindle and Sony (SNE) Reader have been limited to black and white or shades of gray, making them OK for reading plain books and newspapers that like to use stipple drawings, but not great for colorful print media such as magazines.

But if color e-book readers catch on, one theory holds, magazines and other media that currently print on dead trees would have a cheap way to distribute–and charge for–the colorful content and ads that marketers will pay for. Recently, publisher Hearst said it wanted to dive further into the e-book business.

Fujitsu’s color e-paper technology, first unveiled in 2007, is different from the technology created by the Massachusetts-based E Ink that’s used by the Sony and Amazon. But E Ink says it is working on color displays, too.

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