The new “chapter” of technology puts books on the shelf


University of Kentucky student Shannon Frazer, pictured in the Kernel office on 10/14/09. Photo by Ed Matthews

Maybe it’s a sign of the times.

Technology has taken over, and begun to replace the enduring, indisputably original entertainment source: the book.

iPads, Kindles, Nooks — sure, they’re all great. However, nothing can replace a book, in my book. But, that’s just what has happened.

In case you haven’t heard, Joseph Beth Booksellers has had to close four of its nine stores, and the Lexington location is on the chopping block.

With the recent announcement that the Lexington location has elected to exit its bankruptcy protection by the end of April, I can only express my dismay.

No one wants tangible books anymore. Technology wins again

On Wednesday, The Mall at Lexington Green’s management outbid Joseph-Beth’s founder in a closed auction “for the bulk of the well-known chain,” according to an April 21 Lexington Herald-Leader article. Lexington Green manager Robert Langley, of Langley Properties Co., who has worked with Joseph Beth’s founder for almost 15 years, appears to be the tentative winner of the auction.

Langley has expressed desire to keep Joseph-Beth as a book retailer, but the store’s founder was shocked to see his support in safeguarding the company.

Auction results will be reviewed and potentially approved April 27 in bankruptcy court, according to the Herald-Leader article.

Props to Langley for wanting to keep Joseph-Beth alive, but I’m not sure what innovations he has up his sleeve to counteract the growing shift toward technology-based reading materials.

Face it, bookstores are beginning to be classified as things of the past. It’s an injurious fact, but a harsh reality at the same time. I can’t help my nostalgia, though.

One of my first memories of Joseph-Beth Booksellers was by word of mouth.

My high school Latin teacher, who commuted from Lexington, would often speak about how the store was a must-see for any of us Louisville natives who ventured into Wildcat territory.

I’ve visited the store many times during my UK career. Did you know that the Lexington store was where the chain was founded? Or that the Lexington location has been around since 1986?

But longevity doesn’t seem to count for anything anymore.

This news is even worse than a real-life version of “You’ve Got Mail,” where some mega-giant bookstore impedes on the market that the Shop Around the Corner has held for years. No, Joseph-Beth was the equivalent of Fox Books.

It’s sad when even the giants can’t make it. Borders had to close 228 stores as part of its own bankruptcy proceeding, and Barnes & Noble (the nation’s biggest book retailer) was bought out in August 2010 and has continued to struggle.

I’ll say it again: Nothing can replace a book, in my book.

No matter what the final fate of Joseph Beth Booksellers, Lexington Green will never be the same.

And yes, that most certainly will be a sign of the times.