Under the title ‘Waterstones/Blackwells: book-opoly?’ there is this piece in The Week. It is more than usually relevant to me because there is a Waterstones in Cambridge and also a Heffers bookshop. Which will be kept? Can Cambridge support two of them, my guess is that Heffers has been suffering. It is partly the location, but also the approach. It is just more fun in Waterstones.
Here is the article:
There’s nothing like a good book to distract from problems – especially if you’re the US activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors, which has suffered a series of setbacks in its efforts to shake up Britain’s pharma and housebuilding sectors. Bookselling, though, is a different story, said Ian Johnstone in the FT.
The UK’s largest book chain, Waterstones, which Elliott has owned since 2018, is close to buying its smaller rival Blackwell’s-“expanding its dominance” in the sector just as “sales experience a revival”. Last year, UK book sales reached their highest point in a decade, according to Neilsen data, with 212 million print copies sold.
The move brings Blackwell’s, with 18 stores including its Oxford flagship, under the same ownership as Foyles and Barnes & Noble, said The Bookseller. “Some indie booksellers” have “expressed concern” about the growth of Waterstones. But most are pleased to see family-owned Blackwell’s ” rehomed safely” after years of losses.
Page 41, The Week 5 March 2022