It's post-coronavirus and you're off on (another) business trip. You've settled into your seat on the plane, with many hours stretching ahead of you. You reach into your carry-on bag and pull out – what? An iPad? A Kindle? The latest issue of your favourite magazine, or a book?
It certainly seems that books, at least in their printed "dead tree" format, are slowly being pushed off the inflight reading list.
It's no accident that air travel spawned its own category of literature in the form of the "airport novel". These large, thick paperback tomes are geared to passengers with engaging, easy-to-read escapism to reduce the boredom factor in long flights.
As Ian Fleming freely admitted of his James Bond adventures, "I write for warm-blooded heterosexuals in railway trains, aeroplanes and beds." But is the new wave of technology setting up books for their own cliffhanger ending?
Tablets from Apple and Google have joined the growing legion of travel-friendly gadgets that I'm seeing in increasing numbers on planes, in airport lounges and hotel lobbies.
On most flights, regardless of whether I'm in business class or economy, it's rare not to spy at least one passenger in any given row using a tablet or e-book reader. I also make a quick tech tally on most visits to airport lounges, and tablets appear to have long overtaken laptops.
Quite a few travellers pack both: a laptop for work and a tablet or e-book reader for downtime.
I'm often packing my iPad and a Kindle, sometimes with a magazine as well. (Yes, that mitigates against my penchant for travelling light.) But these days the iPad is almost a must-have for my travels and is best for digital editions of magazines and newspapers alongside its many other functions.
The Kindle offers an experience that's optimised for books, while the device itself is far easier to read and lighter to hold than the iPad.
And now and again I'll grab the latest issue of a favourite magazine to dive into – something I too-rarely indulge in back on terra firma.
But I long ago gave up on taking books on my travels.
They demand too much carry-on space – especially with the trend towards larger print sizes, spacey layout and hence more pages per tome – and as a fast reader, knocking over one book during the flight means I'm carrying dead weight for the rest of the trip.
And if I don't finish the book before I land, I almost certainly won't have time to read it once that my work begins.
Book, magazine, tablet or e-book reader – what's your choice of inflight reading, and why?