Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Over Joseph-Beth

When I moved to Morehead in 1990, Joseph-Beth bookstore in Lexington, KY was the place to go for the intellectual glitterati at Morehead State University. The chair of the search committee even took me there during my job interview even though the store was 60 miles away in Lexington.

And then, the owners made Joseph-Beth even better with a dramatic expansion.

But Joseph-Beth gradually got less interesting.

They started focusing more on bestsellers, name-brand authors, and trinkets for the post-hippy set, less on materials that were intellectually interesting. Once upon a time, I could go into the philosophy and history sections at Joseph-Beth and come upon great books and authors I'd never heard of.

Not any more.

The philosophy section at Joseph-Beth has shrunk from a wall to two shelves and the history section looks like its declined as well--too much Civil War and Kentucky history stuff, not enough effort to connect with the history of the rest of the world. It wasn't like there was nothing there. I found a decent looking book about the Romans and Barbarians and bought a couple of other books as well. Joseph-Beth's is not BAD. It's just not all that good.

If I did a survey of my professor friends, I think most of them would still say that they think Joseph-Beth is the best book store in Lexington. But I now like the Barnes and Noble in Hamburg Place better.

Next year, everybody should send me gift cards from Barnes and Nobles.

1 comment:

CBL said...

I have to agree with you about Joseph-Beth. I visited the store this past spring, the first time in over ten years, and I was horrified at what has happened to the store. All of that space, and I couldn't figure out where all the books went. It was THE place to go when I was at UK in the early/mid 90s and a few years thereafter.

My feelings are mixed about Barnes and Noble. I'm not terribly impressed with their philosophy and social sciences sections. There are more books on learning philosophy in 90 minutes than actual books on philosophy. The social sciences are a little better, but their market in that area seems to be dominated current affairs, like Anne Coulter and Glenn Beck - you know, the real analytic minds of this decade.