Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bad News for Book Lovers

The Competition Commission has decided to back the attempted take over of Ottaker's by HMV. On the surface, good news for people who want to buy cheap books. However, the reality is more bad news for the consumer in terms of choice on the High Street. Without a doubt, the increased buying power of Waterstones' parent company will lead to more and more competitors going out of business. It will also mean that niche publications will become harder and harder to purchase as the company will cater for the mass market (that is, after all, the way of capitalism). The poor
selection of the works of the great English poets, being a particular case in point (certainly in the Waterstones' stores I have visited, and they are pretty large). Finally, what will this mean for libraries?? Lending numbers are already in decline and this will surely accelerate as books become cheaper and more 'competitive'. If trends continue, there will be no libraries at all, we will have no need for them. What will become of the noble ideal of providing knowledge for free, for everyone??