The UK’s largest book chain, Waterstones, has acquired the country’s largest independent bookseller, Blackwell’s, ending 143 years of family ownership and signalling a further concentration of the bookselling industry.

The acquisition by Waterstones will see Blackwell’s ultimately fall under the umbrella of the £38.4bn US hedge fund Elliott Investment Management, which in 2019 also purchased the largest US bookseller, Barnes & Noble.

The acquisition will be viewed by some as a regrettable end to the family ownership of a cherished independent and academic bookseller. To others, it will be heralded as a turbo-boost for real-world bookshops in the battle for dominance with their online rival Amazon.