Given the state of flux in the book world, it can be dangerous to predict industry sales trends, but the private investment banking firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson has done just that in its latest annual report, the “VSS Communications Industry Forecast (2012–16).”

According to the report, expenditures on consumer books will fall at a 1.1% compound annual rate between 2012 and 2016, with spending dipping to just under $20 billion. The decline will come in spending on new print books, which the report said will fall at a compound annual rate of 13.1%, while sales of books on digital platforms will increase at a 37.3% compound annual growth rate, not quite fast enough an increase to offset the decline in new print books. The report also predicts that 2016 will be the tipping point when spending on books on digital platforms (mostly, but not entirely, e-books) will surpass spending on new print books for the first time.

The report is generally bullish on the communications industry overall, forecasting a 5.2% compound annual growth rate between 2012 and 2016, almost twice the growth rate of the past five years.