Founded in 1927 the Klein News Company of Cleveland got its start as a local distributor of magazines and newspapers. As paperback books started gaining popularity, publishers would utilize distributors such as Klein to help bring the new low-cost books to market. To help spur interest in these new inexpensive books the company would donate them to area libraries as well as organizing bookmobiles to help acquaint students with them.
The Klein News Company wasn’t just an innovator in bringing paperbacks to market though, they were also innovators in technology. In the 1950’s and 60’s the company was the first in Cleveland to use the initial generation of IBM Computers to help improve the company’s operation efficiency.
By the 70’s The Klein News Company was the area’s prominent distributor of paperback books and was looking for a way to expand their sales even further. With supermarkets being the backbone of paperback and magazine sales at the time it only made sense to try and enter into a similar retail market, the shopping mall.
The company would bring their new idea to life with Booklein (pronounced book-line) Family Reading Centers. Though the name translated from German means “little book store”, the store was actually named after the company president, George Klein. Despite the name, Booklein was always first and foremost a magazine shop. The store stocked “all the magazines you’ve ever wanted to read…and then some”. But it wasn’t just all books and magazines at Booklein. The store also featured tobacco, candy, maps, calenders, and of course, lottery tickets.
In addition to the Summit Mall store The Klein News Company would go on to open Booklein shops at Great Lakes Mall, Rolling Acres Mall, Randall Park Mall, and Sandusky Mall before abruptly exiting the retailing market in 1984.
I have many fond memories of the Rolling Acres store as Booklein and later as Churchill News and Tobacco. The store was a must visit every time I would go to the mall. It seemed that no matter what age I was or what hobbies I had at the time, the store would have a magazine to cater to my needs.
“We don’t just sell books, we serve our customers with a smile-that’s why we call ourselves ‘The Friendly People Place'”
Toni Lack – Manager at Booklein, Summit Mall from The Beacon Journal 1978