Competition authority clears way for HMV takeover of Ottakar’s

I missed this story earlier, and it’s probably oh-so old news by now, but the UK’s Competition Commission – a body that regulates mergers and acquisitions – has judged that the proposed takeover of UK bookseller Ottakar’s by rivals the HMV group (which includes Waterstone’s) will not lead to reduced competition in the high street. In other words, they don’t reckon that the consumer will suffer from a reduced range of books (and those at higher prices).

Hmm.

I’m not generally in favour of the impact of conglomerated blocs in publishing (tedious dealings with my local Exeter Waterstone’s have been tempered somewhat by correspondence with Scott Pack – Waterstone’s chief buyer – who turns out to be quite approachable and knowledgeable; pity he’s resigned). However, I guess the proof of this pudding will be in the eating. If the HMV group does hoover up Ottakar’s but proceeds to fuck up the book-buying experience for enough people, I think that will only serve to send high street booksellers up the same creek as high street travel agencies. Who purchases their holidays in a shop these days?

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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