We're a time-poor society who are constantly looking to shave a few minutes off almost every activity we undertake. And so it's no surprise that figures released this week show we're saying goodbye to the time-heavy hobby of reading and are instead devouring endless Netflix boxsets.
An article from The Times reports that sales of physical fiction books fell by 9% in 2018 - one of the biggest decreases in recent years. The article goes on to quote the chief executive of the Publisher's Association, Stephen Lotinga, who commented: "One of the difficulties that fiction comes up against is the sheer pressure on people's leisure time". And it's true, a book will often take me a good few weeks to get through but I devoured series two of Fleabag in the course of just one evening. And because of this, and as Lotinga says, people often make a choice between a boxset or reading a book.
Is there something necessarily wrong with this? There's the old mantra that TV rots our brains but thanks to Netflix, and its effects in spurring on the BBC and other big content producers, we're enjoying a golden age of television drama. There are some fantastic programmes out there in which you can learn a huge amount and expand your horizons - just like any good book can help you to do. And, with a nod to Blue Planet, TV can even galvanise public action in the face of some of the world's most pressing challenges.
So, I'm all for good television. It's also far more social than reading a book. My housemates and I make a point of deciding what new series we can sit and enjoy together. However while this is all great, I'm not for 'Boxset Britain' either because we all know just how easy it is to become addicted to a new show to the point where you miss out on sleep so you can fit in another 45 minutes of Killing Eve. And then there's the much lamented effects on sleep quality of starting at screens and its 'blue light' just before we go to bed.
Reading before sleep on the other hand is often said to help you enjoy a better slumber and some experts have even said that reading can act as a form of meditation that helps to calm the mind. And in a society that is sleep-deprived - and by extension unhappy, stressed and unhealthy - perhaps buying a book and reading before bed isn't such a bad idea. I still can't wait to finish Killing Eve though.
Britons are shunning novels in favour of box sets as the golden age of television captivates viewers. Sales of physical fiction books fell by 9 per cent in Britain last year, the sharpest drop of recent years, with rising sales of audiobooks and ebooks only partially offsetting the decline. The novel is struggling to compete with alternative forms of storytelling as streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon pump billions of pounds into programming, industry figures said.