Third-quarter sales for three of the nation's largest book printers were generally flat for the third quarter ended September 30. Banta Corp. had the best results, reporting that its book division had higher sales and earnings in the period. Trade sales led the gains helped in part by higher orders for page-a-day calendars. Sales for the entire printing and digital imagining segment fell 1.8%, to $267.2 million, although the company noted that if the decline in paper prices is excluded, sales would be even with last year's quarter.

R.R. Donnelley reported that net sales in its book publishing services group fell 2.8%, to $193.9 million for the third quarter ended September 30. Excluding paper costs, sales in the division were flat, at $137 million. Greg Stoklosa, executive v-p and chief financial officer, said that market share gains made by its educational publishing clients offset volume declines across all book markets.

At Quebecor North America, book group sales fell 2.7%, to $143 million. Executives said elhi and college business was up and that the company was considering adding capacity to its Iowa facility, which prints textbooks. The trade market has had some softening and executives were not expecting any significant change in the fourth quarter.