Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Book Trade is Going to the Dog

The Competition Commission has finally cleared HMV's bid for Ottakar's. Now tell me, how is it not lessening competition for HMV, which owns Waterstones, to buy Ottakar's? In central Edinburgh, there are already three Waterstones stores and only one Ottakar's store. The only other sizeable bookshop is Blackwells, and that company is in financial trouble too. Maybe HMV should drop the H.

Mind you, whoever takes over whom, it probably won't make a blind bit of difference to the fact that it's nigh on impossible to find a decent poetry section in any big bookshop these days. Tragically, small, independent bookshops are also under pressure from online sales. Nothing comes close to a good, leisurely browse among a good stock of books in a good shop, but might it soon be a matter of history?


Rob Mackenzie said...

I've a feeling there is now one less Ottakars in Edinburgh. Have a look next time you're in George Street. It looked closed-up to me.

Apparently, only 20 percent of poetry books are sold in bookshops. The other 80 percent sell in other ways - I guess readings, festivals, internet, personal sales, begging people on your hands and knees etc.

Andrew Philip said...

I find the pleasure of browsing the shelves is much less in the massive book warehouses beloved of Waterstones or Borders. There's something much warmer, more intimate--more human--about smaller bookshops. Most secondhand bookshops fit the bill. I wonder whether there's any connection between that and poetry sales from the high street shelves.

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