Total spending on consumer books is expected to rise 2.1% in 2002, to $18.2 billion, according to predictions in the latest edition of Veronis Suhler Stevenson's Communications Industry Forecast. The gains will come from price increases, as units are expected to fall by just under 1% in the year. The report does, however, forecast units to grow at a 0.2% compound annual growth rate in the 2001—2006 period, compared to a 0.8% compound annual decline in the 1996—2001 period. Spending on consumer books is expected to increase at a 2.8% compound annual growth rate over the next five years, hitting $20.5 billion in 2006. The compound annual growth rate in the 1996—2001 period was 2.4%.

For 2002, the report is most bullish on prospects for the adult segment, with spending on trade paperbacks projected to increase 5.2%, while spending on adult hardcovers is seen rising 3.4%. Spending on children's books is expected to decline 2.0% in the year, with hardcover spending estimated to fall 3.4% and paperback spending dropping 0.5%. In the other major trade segments, spending on mass market paperbacks is projected to increase 1.2% in the year, while spending in the religion book segment is projected to increase 3.7%. Spending on book clubs is projected to increase 0.7%.

In other gauges of the health of the industry, the report estimates that per-person spending on consumer books was $86.13 in 2001, down from per-person spending of $87.34, although spending is expected to increase to $87.02 in 2002. Hours spent reading trade books was estimated at 109 in 2001, down from 111 hours in 2000. Time people spend reading books is expected to drop further, to 107 in 2002.