Monday, February 27, 2012

Mr. Paperback Bookstore Chain (Maine) To Close

I've covered the travails of the publishing and retail book industries here enough times that I really don't feel like rehashing it again. Here is the latest such sad news, from the Bangor Daily News:
Mr. Paperback, a bookstore chain that has been a fixture in Maine for 50 years, will be closing and its sister company, Magazines Inc., will be bought out, an owner of the companies said Friday.

Mr. Paperback’s 80 employees and Magazines Inc.’s 40 employees will be laid off, co-owner Penny Robichaud said. The companies notified their staffs on Wednesday.

“Business is not great. It seemed like it might be a good time to get out,” said Mr. Paperback General Manager Jim McCree. Both companies will cease operation by the end of April.

Mr. Paperback has 10 stores in Maine, with locations in Augusta, Bangor, Belfast, Caribou, Dover-Foxcroft, Ellsworth, Farmington, Presque Isle, Skowhegan and Waterville.

Magazines Inc., which distributes magazines and newspapers in the state, is based in Bangor.

Mr. Paperback and Magazines Inc. are separate companies, but are owned by the Foss family — Robichaud and her siblings Ralph Foss and Pamela Williams.

Robichaud said they are still in negotiations to sell Magazines Inc. to Hudson LLC., based in Worcester, Mass. The company would take over Magazines Inc.’s clients, and move distribution to a Gorham facility. Hudson LLC has no interest in taking over Mr. Paperback, she said, so the bookstores will be liquidated.

“We’re all just wrapping our heads around this this week,” said Robichaud.

“It’s painful,” said McCree. “Over the years we’ve had an extremely dedicated staff — smart people, faithful people. I can tell you it’s been extremely hard on the Foss family.”
A sad tale, indeed. But check out one of the reasons cited for the closures:
Robichaud said changes in the book industry and finances were the reasons for closing.

“It’s due to gas prices and a changing industry — Amazon, the Internet, Kindle — people don’t need the printed materials as much as we used to,” said Robichaud.

“Most of us know that the book business and anything in print is not a particularly healthy place to be,” McCree added.
There it is--gas prices. Sure there are strong headwinds in the industry from those other factors, but somehow I'll be that bookstores would not be shutting down with quite such rapidity if gas were still $1.30 a gallon. Call it a hunch.

Bonus: Terry Tate sez, "reading is fundamental." And you better listen to him, sucka

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