Mr. Paperback stores to close, Magazines Inc. to be sold, 120 to lose jobs

BANGOR — 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," McCree said. "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."

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," Robichaud said.

"Most of us know that the book business and anything in print is not a particularly healthy place to be," McCree said.

The companies were started by John and Evelyn Foss in the 1960s and later handed down to their four children. Robert Foss retired, leaving Ralph Foss, Robichaud and Williams in charge.

"I will say I worked with this family for 18 years. They're very honest and they've very ethical," McCree said. "They want to go about it the right way instead of bailing out and owing a lot of money."

Robichaud said she's sad to have to lay off employees of the companies, some of whom she grew up with.

"I'm very concerned about all the employees," Robichaud said. "We want to make sure they're going to be OK, because they've been loyal to us. We've had an awesome staff."

A rapid response team will be brought in to help train former employees and get them new jobs, Robichaud said.

The announcement comes less than a year after Borders, a national bookstore chain, closed 399 locations, including three stores in Maine and Waldenbooks in Auburn.

McCree said Mr. Paperback stores will start going-out-of-business sales beginning in March.

"There's a lot of work to closing down and getting rid of everything," Robichaud said. "We're going to pay off all our bills and walk out with our heads up."

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Sandra Coulombe's picture

Oh I did not miss your point

Oh I did not miss your point Mr. Breton. When you use something that is totally unrelated to the governors positions to try to prove your point it detracts from your own credibility and the credibility of your point which in my opinion is a very valid point but one that is unrelated to this particular instance of business loss. No policy will change the coming tide of change to the book industry. It is solely being driven by the new technologies that provide a more convenient format for consumers to acquire and read books.
If those of us opposed to the governors policies save our attempts to point out their fallacies to relevant issues we have a much better chance of swaying others opinions. If we don't we just loose even more credibility in the minds of those who support the current administration.
Making snide digs at every opportunity regardless of relevance in no way helps and in fact only hurts those opposed to the governor's more dangerous policies.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well stated, madam.

Well stated, madam.

Sandra Coulombe's picture

As much as I dislike our

As much as I dislike our current governor this is one I can't blame on him or his policies. Kindles, smart phones, pads, etc are quickly making print books obsolete. Why buy a book that you then need space to store when you can have several hundred books stored on something smaller than one hardback? Add to that you can find a ton of free books for your e-reader and there is even less incentive to buy a hard copy.
It is a shame, I for one really don't care for reading on those things. I fear by the time my grandkids have kids books will be things you only see in a museum.
It has nothing to do with politics however and everything to do with the direction of consumer consumption. Simply put more and more people are using electronic devices to read and fewer and fewer are buying hard copy books. If stores can't sell books they stop carrying them. If the main focus of the store was selling books, they go out of business.


The connection

The connection between slashing government spending and businesses closing is not that difficult to make. Laying off teachers, government workers, police, and now medical workers means more and more people have no discretionary income. Therefore they do not shop for books or other luxury items. True, book stores have been hurt by online products but there are still plenty of people who read books. See the public libraries. The more people don't shop or pay taxes the more businesses close and fire more and more workers. The less money the government collects in taxes, the faster it sinks into debt requiring more cuts, more layoffs, more debt and it spirals on. In Europe they are on their fourth round of austerity cuts with their recession deepening every time. Now they are beyond rescue. The amount of stimulus required to bring them out of recession being beyond what the banks or the government can do.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Mr. Robichaud blames the

Mr. Robichaud blames the closures on gas prices and changes in the industry, but I guess he must be lying, huh? Probably doesn't know what he's talking about, and he and LePage have joined forces to close all the stores, is that it? You've just about elevated self-embarrassment to an art form.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Dan, Perhaps you should do

Perhaps you should do more to fill in the details as to the relationship between Gov. LaPage and the closing of Mr. Paperback and Magazines Inc.? Otherwise I’ll read this as Dan is just slinging mud again.

Gov. LaPage’s policies have nothing to do with changes in print media occurring over the past decade. I know that you understand.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Hmm – lots of rhetoric but

Hmm – lots of rhetoric but you still have no cause (LaPage’s Policies) and effect (Mr. Paperback and Magazine inc. closing) relationship; all you have is just another opportunity to sling mud. Can you make the cause/effect relationship?

The answer is no because Mr. Paperback and Magazine Inc. are casualties of the digital media revolution, not the LaPage revolution.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

So much anger, bitterness and

So much anger, bitterness and hatred during Lent. And from a Christian, too.


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