Why Print Found a Home at Airbnb

pineapple_cover_winter_2014 (1) (1)A doctor I know recommends turning off all electronics one hour before you crash to allow your brain to drain itself of all that beta wave chatter. He prescribes reading a print book or magazine in the interim, to allow the tactile page-turning and soft visual engagement to gently switch our brains from reasoning beta mode to the blissful alpha mode that foster sound sleep and dreaming.

Don’t get me wrong – electronics absolutely rule for information retrieval and sharing.

But if I want to dream of Tahiti as I fly to Toledo, I’ll take an in-flight magazine every time.

So it was with some interest that I read – online, of course – that Airbnb, the place we go when we want to run away from home, recently launched Pineapple, a print magazine named after the fruit favored as a housewarming and hospitality gift in the tropics.

Publisher Christopher Lukezik vows Pineapple will be neither rental catalog nor travel magazine, but instead a storytelling platform to celebrate the personal perspectives and DIY esprit de corps of Airbnb’s 20 million adventurous hosts, guests and daydreamers.

“This isn’t a magazine about homes; it’s about the connections that our community makes in the environments where they live or travel,” he explains. “For us, print was the perfect medium to tell these stories.”

Why would a millennial magnet like Airbnb opt to retroengineer pixels into print?

It turns out there’s a bit of a trend this way recently, with such digital publishers as Politico, music review site Pitchfork and technology blog Pando all launching hard copy versions of their online selves.

Where digital once spelled doom for handheld content, it’s now bringing print back as a premium product, thanks to huge demand from the ad side.

Why? Simply put, advertisers are weary of sharing screen space with a digital jungle gym of bouncing brands and muddled messages. In print, they can have the whole space to themselves, which is why Converse bought out the entire first year of Pitchfork, HR giant TriNet did likewise for Pando and JP Morgan singlehandedly financed Politico’s year-long look at urban America.

“Advertisers are interested in us because they want to align the reader’s experience with the content that they’ve made,” says Tom McGeveren, co-editor of the Capital New York. “That environment is much cozier on print than on the Web.”

Lukezik insists Airbnb isn’t headed back to the future; it’s simply conveying its dreamers’ stories in alpha rather than beta mode.

“I think it’s a complete misnomer to say that print is dead. Print is changing, that’s for sure,” he told Katy Cowan at CreativeBoom UK. “The desire for physical magazines and books will always remain. Without being too precious, print is still the best medium for telling stories in words and photographs, just as the screen is great for interactivity and video.”

I guess where publishing is concerned, what William Faulkner said really is true.

“The past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.”

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald is an award-winning journalist, author and blogger who incorporates humor and human interest into a broad range of topics. Follow him on Twitter @omnisaurus

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