NEW YORK — For the foreseeable future, book sales are looking flat.
According to the latest report from the Book Industry Study Group, released Friday, dollar sales and the number of books sold will increase by small levels through 2011, rising by 3% or less each year.
The book business totaled $35.7 billion in 2006, a 3% increase over the previous year. The number of books sold rose to 3.1 billion, an increase of just 0.5%.
Competition from other media is stronger than ever, the overall economy remains tight and, says BISG senior researcher Albert N. Greco, the industry may be too old to expect truly dramatic expansion.
"The book business has been around for centuries. It's a mature business, and it's hard to get tremendous growth," said Greco, a professor of marketing at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business.
According to the study group, a nonprofit organization supported by the publishing industry, the biggest growth in the next few years will be in elementary and high school textbooks, as California, Texas and Florida are among the states due for new course material.
Sales of mass-market paperbacks, which had been declining for years, appear to have bounced back, thanks to the new "premium-sized" editions that are easier on baby boomers' aging eyes. Growth looks modest in other areas as children's book sales look to a future without Harry Potter (the last in J.K. Rowling's hugely popular series comes out July 21) and religious sales tail off after surging for the last few years.
"The religious market is also maturing, so you're seeing a decline in growth," Greco says.