Joseph-Beth books files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The Joseph-Beth Group has filed for federal bankruptcy protection while the bookseller restructures with fewer stores.

The Cincinnati-based company says it's closing stores in Cleveland and Nashville, on the heels of last week's announcements of closings in Pittsburgh and Charlotte, N.C. Joseph-Beth blames the weak economy and changes in the book industry — online discounters and e-readers have added to pressure on traditional book stores.

"The continuing challenges for the book industry; a weak economy and resulting sales decline; along with economic forecasts for the first half of 2011, represent significant challenges to Joseph-Beth and the entire retail industry," the family-owned company said in a statement.

The parent of Joseph-Beth Booksellers and Davis-Kidd Booksellers filed a Chapter 11 petition Thursday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Lexington, Ky. It says it wants time to restructure its debt and improve stability.

Joseph-Beth dates to 1986, when Neil and Mary Beth Van Uum opened the first store in Lexington. Their second store in the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood has hosted such high-profile book signings as one by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Other remaining stores are at the Cleveland Clinic, and Fredericksburg, Va.

The group says there will sales on remaining books at the closing stores, and other daily operations shouldn't be affected.