If you are a book lover who prefers an E Ink device to a tablet, I bet it’s because there are fewer distractions on a Kindle Paperwhite 3G or other dedicated eReader. I feel the same way. I love my Kindle Fire HD and iPad for zipping around the Internets like a waterbug on a pond. But when I want to immerse myself in a book, I turn to a gadget that’s easy on the eyes and slow to respond to chattering of my monkey mind. I wonder if any emails have arrived in my InBox during the past five minutes. How’s Hagel’s nomination going? Got tweet?
If you feel the same way, I want to recommend taking your dedicated eReader to a room made of salt. I didn’t know such a place existed until yesterday, when Darlene booked us for two hours in extremely comfortable loungers at Salt Spa Colorado. It’s in Boulder, of course, and it is the coolest room I’ve been in for a long time.
The young man who checked us in explained that two tons of salt went into constructing the room. The walls are ripples of white and look good enough to lick. Crystals of salt crunch on the floor as you walk to your lounger. You wear a hair net and booties while you’re in the room, and once the lights dim you can spend the time napping, reading or working on your koan. There is no talking in the salt room. You are advised to put your cellphone on stun. The New Age music is soft and pleasing. The theory is that inhaling the negatively charged tiny salt particles pumped into the room reduces inflammation in your airways, lowers stress and promotes well-being. It’s maybe why we always feel calmer during our summer stay at Ocean Park, Maine.
But to tell the truth, I wasn’t there for the halotherapy. I was there to read a book.
Two hours in a room made of salt seemed like a great way to read Seth Godin’s latest book, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? I wanted to grok this book, to let my mind absorb it deeply in order to frame a few crisp and original questions for Seth in my Kindle Chronicles interview later today. And it worked. Seth Godin’s latest call to make art and eschew the constraints of the Industrial Age found fertile ground in a mind surrounded by salt. The two hours went by in a flash, and I was sad when the young man came in to say it was time for the next group.
This business of reading with close attention, without distractions, is precious to me. It’s why I seem to see more deeply into a book when I’m reading in bed at 3 a.m., the perfect time for a Paperwhite. The world is asleep, and the only ones up are me and the author of the book I’m reading, even if he’s dead, like Tolstoy.
I get nervous when I see reports that annual dedicated eReader sales are declining as tablets take over the earth. I can’t imagine a world where there are no E Ink readers, or dedicated devices with similar ability to wall off digital distractions. It would be enough to send me all the way back to books on pulp.
I don’t think there is much reason to worry, though. I have heard from Jeff Bezos himself that Amazon understands the importance of dedicated eReaders. I don’t know if he’s ever read his Kindle in a room made of salt. If not, I hope he does some day. It’s a even more intense reading pleasure than taking your Kindle to the beach.
One mind, one book, no tweets. That’s about as good as it gets, in my view.