Sluggish and flat are two words often associated with growth in book sales, but the new Communications Industry Forecast from the investment banking firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson shows that the book segment is far from the biggest laggard in the media sector.

Although consumer spending on books rose at only a 1.8% annual rate over the last five years, that pace was faster than the growth posted by the recorded music, newspaper and consumer magazine segments and was not too far behind the annual growth of spending on videogames and movie tickets. According to VSS, the fastest growth in spending in the media sector in the 2000—2004 period was on DVDs, followed by the cable and satellite TV segments.

Over the next five years, the VSS report predicts that spending on books will once again grow at a faster rate than spending on recorded music and newspapers; will match the growth in spending on movie tickets; and will be only slightly below spending on magazines. Spending on DVDs is projected to grow at the fastest rate in the 2005—2009 span, with solid gains projected for the videogames and cable/satellite TV segments as well.

Spending on books is projected to reach just under $22 billion in 2009.