The Undead Bookstores of Kentucky

The Joseph-Beth Booksellers chain, a Lexington, KY icon for years, has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Four of its nine locations are now walking dead – they will close by the time the company emerges from bankruptcy. 

The company’s president believes many more bookstores across America are fated to close in the near future:

“I think in the next three to five years, you’ll see half the bookstores in this country close,” Joseph-Beth Booksellers President Neil Van Uum told the Lexington Herald-Leader. recently reported two other stories that amount to distress signals for book retailers.  Hastings Entertainment reported that its new book sales dropped 9.3% for the quarter ending October 31. Also, a U.S. Census report said book sales were down 7.7% in September after a 6.5% drop in August, and year-to-date book sales are down 2.6%.

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the link.]

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4 thoughts on “The Undead Bookstores of Kentucky

  1. Very sad news. I’ve been shopping at Joseph-Beth since it was a single store in Lexington Green, at its original location (it has moved within the mall twice, currently taking up what was originally the entire interior of the mall).

  2. When the economy is bad, people’s disposable income goes down. And for most people, books are one of the exenses they can cut back on. Bad times for bookstores.

    My local comics shop was able to renegotiate its lease recently. If it hadn’t, it would have had to close its doors several weeks ago. I found out about this when I dropped in to tell the owner that I needed to cut back on my own pull-list. (Rotator cuff surgery, and being off work for several months thereafter, is giving me a pretty big hit in the pocketbook.)

  3. We went to both of them, finding Davis-Kidd again almost by accident, after they moved to bigger quarters a few years ago. We’re going to go to Joseph-Beth in Lexington the week after Thanksgiving (Southern Lights, Columbia Steak House, and other rituals of visits to Lexington).

  4. Hastings Entertainment is also a video and music store and a coffee bar at most of it’s 147 locations. They sell used as well as new. I am currently getting up to speed on what’s been produced over the last ten years in the film and television industry by buying very cheap (usually 89 cents) DVDs online from their web site ( I’ve watched about a hundred so far. DVDs don’t have any physical contact and therefore don’t wear out. The cases may be banged up but unless someone has scratched the disk, they are as good as new. Full disclosure. I’ve done 16 book signings for “The Shenandoah Spy” at some of their stores in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado and I own their stock. Their locations are mostly in small towns where they are the ONLY place to buy a book that is not a rack-jobbed paperback or best-seller. So they will survive, and I believe, prosper.

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