By Alex Gladu, Independent We Stand
When you’re living in the digital age, it can sometimes seem like there’s less time for the physical world. An Internet browser can replace a trip to the mall, smartphones can interrupt dinnertime, and tablets can turn paperbacks and hardcovers all but obsolete. Technology has advanced society in countless ways, but there’s still something to be said for the old-fashioned way of doing things. When it comes to reading, opting to go low-tech can re-instill an appreciation for the book, the story and the effort that went into both of them.
E-books have shot to prominence in recent years thanks, at least in part, to the prevalence of ways to consume them. If you’re an iTunes user, you can download a book much like you would a song. If you’re an Amazon user, you can purchase an e-book in the same transaction as your drone-delivered dog food. E-readers have also become popular, allowing users to read books, check email and browse the Internet all from one very-portable screen.
Though, for many, using that screen takes the joy out of reading a print book. Turning the pages as you go, marking your progress with a ribbon or a dog-eared page – these actions aren’t necessary when a screen is involved. In fact, the entire traditional publishing process of books, from printing to binding, isn’t necessary – and to the appreciative readers of print books, as well as the independent businesses that have found their niche there, that’s a shame.
“Recently, I had a book rebound by Long’s-Roullet Bookbinders in downtown Norfolk,” says Roger Phelps, corporate communications manager at STIHL Inc. and a resident of southeastern Virginia. “The owner, Alain Roullet, took me through his workshop and showed me with pride all of the machines that he uses and the work that he does. Talking to him rekindled my love of actual books, and I’m now going through and sorting my library.”
Long’s-Roullet has been in business since 1975, working closely with local libraries to find success. The family operation now offers a wide range of services, including rebinding, on-site printing and bindings for bibles, medical journals, newspapers and more. Over the years, the business has remained committed to supporting the community. “While I was there, Roullet handed me a large quantity of pocket bibles to give to my neighbor, who is a Navy chaplain, so that the sailors who are deploying can have them,” Phelps says.
Aside from the nostalgia, there may be health benefits to reading print books over electronic versions. If you read before going to bed, opting for a screen can make it harder to fall asleep, according to a study from Harvard University. That’s because the light from most tablet screens can inhibit the production of melatonin. Additionally, readers who use tablets tend to absorb and retain less of the information they read than those who opt for print materials, according to a 2014 study out of Norway.
All of this isn’t to say that the trend toward digital reading is entirely a bad thing. Sales data of e-books shows that independent publishers are perhaps the group benefitting most from the digital trend. The once-coveted shelf space at mass book retailers has grown slightly less coveted, as independent publishers are able to get their stories in front of readers through online channels. In this way, the technology may have created a more level playing field in the publishing industry.
Despite the digital revolution and its many benefits, some traditional activities are worth preserving. Whether it’s re-instilling the joys of reading or helping you fall asleep, print books often maintain important advantages over tablets. Not to mention there are the Main Street businesses like Long’s-Roullet Bookbinders that enrich both reading and the community.
To become reacquainted with the joy of print reading for yourself, find an independent bookstore or binder near you with Independent We Stand’s Locals Only Business Search.