Sorry, I’ve got to stop addressing you: it’s time for my 17 minutes of relaxation.

Those who care about Bureau of Labor Statistics time use research will be happy to learn that in 2015, the year following the data covered in the chart shown above, although total leisure time had gone down by six minutes, the time devoted to reading remained steady at 19 minutes. I will resist the obvious temptation to use this inspiring fact to tell you that this shows we are as a nation on the way back to greatness.

A couple of years ago The Digital Reader provided this link to a Thad McIlroy piece about Netflix and its lessons for book publishing — which personally I believe amount to considerably less than a hill of beans. We don’t really need to be told that there are more and more types of media competing for our attention. So what? Stop worrying: if Publisher X goes out of business that’ll be a disaster for employees of X, but many of them will be able to get jobs at say Publisher Y, others will get jobs in other industries, and one or two of them may even start up their own little publishing operation. What won’t change as a result of the demise of Publisher X is the number of people writing books and their eagerness to get them published. However different the experience will be in a hundred years, there will always be “books”. Everyone fears change but change (in my experience anyway) is actually always good.

Statistics can notoriously be made to prove almost anything, though just what these data prove isn’t obvious. One thing I might question is the veracity of respondents: can we really believe that 15-19-year-olds spent just 0.2 hours a day in reading? Does nobody read cereal boxes any more: maybe not, but what about texts, emails, and other electronic communications? No doubt this low number is a result of education not counting as leisure — and if you’re reading stuff as a student it’s totally likely that that’s not going to be your number-one leisure-time activity. (I know it wasn’t mine, though I do know I’d spend more than ten minutes at it.) This doesn’t however mean that young people have abandoned reading, which to be fair is also the CEO of Netflix’s conclusion.

Perhaps unsurprisingly we see no great eagerness in Netflix to become “the Netflix for Books”. There seems to be more money to be made in movies and television: who’d have thought?! A couple of years ago Book Fox provided a review of the contenders for the title. There are clearly readers who are suckers for volume: for them this kind of service is great. For those of us who indulge in more targeted reading (though I’m not sure I could specify what my target is) having a mass of stuff flying at your head, screaming “Read me, read me” is little more than an annoyance. One could argue that there are two different worlds of readers (all squeezed into that 19 minutes), and that they are served by two different publishing businesses: traditional publishing and indie publishing. Whatever, Penguin Random House seems to be giving up on the idea of a “Netflix for Books”. The Digital Reader reports they are withdrawing their books from several subscription services. Publishing Perspectives also has the story focussing on the audiobook sector.