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BISG Projects 4% Increase In Industry Sales in 1998
Jim Milliot -- 7/27/98
Total book sales are projected to increase 4.4% in 1998, to an estimated $21.68 billion, according to forecasts in the Book Industry Study Group's Trends 1998. Sales in 1997 rose 2.4%, less than half the 5.3% projected by BISG. Unexpectedly soft sales in the consumer segments were largely responsible for book sales failing to hit the BISG estimates. Unit sales in 1998 are forecast to rise 0.8% in 1998 compared to a decline of 3.4% last year.
While the consumer segments are expected to improve this year, professional and educational sales are projected to lead the gain. The college segment, with sales estimated to increase 6.9% to $2.85 billion, is expected to have the largest gain in the year. Increased enrollment and more effective marketing of textbooks are seen as two factors supporting the gain in college sales. Sales in the school market, which rose nearly 14% in 1997, are forecast to increase by 4.8% in 1998; with schools benefiting from strong funding, industry members would not be surprised if the sales gain in the category topped the forecast. Low unemployment and a changing work environment are expected to help boost sales in the professional segment to a 6% increase, to $4.40 billion this year.

Freed from comparisons with the Goosebumps phenomenon of 1995-96 and with improved library funding, the juvenile category should be the best performing consumer segment in 1998. The projected 5.9% gain, however, will still bring total juvenile sales to just under 1996 levels. Similarly, the 1.6% sales gain projected for the adult segment will bring sales in the category to $4.16 billion, a total that is still $35 million below sales in 1996. If the BISG forecast proves accurate, however, it will mark the first time since 1994 that sales in the adult segment increased.

Although industry members expect to see the mass market paperback category bounce back from the disastrous results of 1997, when sales fell 7.8%, few think sales will increase at the forecasted 3.2% rate. Continuing consolidation and confusion in the ID market, as well as weak midlist sales, are expected to keep the category from hitting the BISG estimate. The book club segment is expected to turn in another solid year with sales up 5.4%, following a 4.9% increase in 1997. The mail-order category is the only segment projected to have a decline in 1998, with sales off 3.1%.

Sales in the religious category are expected to rise 4% in 1998, bringing revenues up to $1.18 billion. University press members believe that, given a more stable marketplace, their segment may do slightly better than the 3.9% gain forecasted by BISG.

Looking ahead, Trends projects sales to reach nearly $26 billion in 2002, with average annual sales increases of about 4.5%.
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