After shuttering one store this summer and another five stores on the shore in September, 36-year-old Atlantic Books, a Mid-Atlantic regional chain headquartered in Conshohocken, Pa., began going-out-of-business sales for its three remaining stores late last week. At the end of the year, when Atlantic Books ceases operations, Delaware’s state capital will no longer have a general bookstore.
Approximately 80 seasonal workers were affected by the earlier store closings, and another 75 to 80 full-time store and warehouse staff will lose their jobs in the new round. “It’s been an uphill battle for a couple years,” says co-owner Mark Simon, who stresses that this is not a bankruptcy, everyone will get paid. “The BJ’s, Sam’s Clubs, online retailers, and e-readers all eat away a little bit. It’s not a matter of focusing. We had a couple primary and second stores. Every one of them has gotten chewed up. Since 2002 we’ve pretty much seen a steady decline. These e-reader things will really make a dent. They’re voracious. That’s why I decided to bow out first.”
Simon founded Atlantic Books with his father in 1975, sold it in 1995, then bought it back in 2000, says that after so many years in business, “we’ve gotten notes and e-mails from people so sorry to see us go. I got a letter from a woman who went to our store with her grandparents and now comes to our store with her grandchildren. There’s a theme throughout all of them about the industry as a whole. They’re very concerned about having pages to turn.”