To merge, or not to merge, that is the question. But for Richard Ratner, Director and Head of Equities for Seymour Pierce, it’s ridiculous that there are even criticisms of HMV’s plans to take over Ottakar’s. “I feel very strongly that the near hysteria at the time that the deal was announced was whipped up by the [Publishers Association],” he tells Publishing News. “It appears to have done its best to sow seeds of ‘doom and gloom’ amongst the authors and some of the book-buying public.”
And unless the specialists can compete with the superstores on bestsellers, “then, in time, they will have to take stock of the number and size of units that they have and, just as importantly, the ranges that they carry.”
Meanwhile, Permira isn’t out of the running to take over HMV, as they’ve put forward a revised bid at 200 pence per share — up from the 190 pence that was rejected earlier this month.
And what of independent booksellers? The Telegraph meets James Daunt, owner of an eponymous chain of 4 shops in London. The stores have been successful with the city’s middle-class literati thanks to knowledgeable staff and good customer service, and Daunt has no plans to expand to Waterstone’s like numbers. Interestingly, he’s rooting for the merger to take place: “Ottakar’s is extremely dangerous to independent booksellers and leads to them closing down. It is run by a brilliant entrepreneur [James Heneage], whereas Waterstone’s has been static for years. If it bags Ottakar’s, it will kill that entrepreneurial spirit stone dead.” Leaving more good news for people like…himself.