I was the unlucky recipient of some depressing news yesterday.

The Bay of Plenty Times was sent a press release from the New Zealand Book Council stating that there had been a drop in the number of adult New Zealanders who read a book last year.

Their research said 442,600 adult New Zealanders didn't read a book in the past year.

The press release said books were competing with television and computer screens for our leisure time, 45 to 54-year-olds had the lowest percentage reading of any age group, and fewer Kiwi men were reading books.

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I found it shocking and sad that almost half a million of us didn't read even one book in a whole year.

Then I stopped to think about why this upset me so.

I love reading; it's my favourite pastime. The written word can capture your imagination in a way a filmmaker can only dream of doing.

But what am I doing when I'm not reading a book? Often, I'm browsing social media, reading news articles from around the globe and Googling random tidbits of information.

When watching TV, my husband and I spend more time finding out information about the cast and looking up evidence for claims made by the show's characters than actually watching the television.

So yes, we're reading fewer books. But are we actually reading less?

I suggest that we're reading more than ever, it just comes in smaller, bite-sized pieces of information served up on a hand-held screen rather than paper with printed words.

People are reading more news than ever before. It used to be that news consumers had to wait for the morning paper to find out what was happening in the world, or tune in to the 6 o'clock news.

These days, consumers will get a "ding" on their phone whenever a major news event happens and will continue to receive updates throughout the day as the situation unfolds.

So while this research sounds dire on face value, I don't think it tells the full story.

Maybe the news isn't as upsetting as it first seemed.