New bookstore open on the square

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

As the owner of Bob’s Bookstore, which opened recently on the square, Joe Judd has had a busy couple of weeks getting books, making bookshelves, and all the work of opening and maintaining a new store.

“I have to be here all day, all night,” he said.

Bob’s Bookstore, which will be open with a new shipment of books on Monday, will sell and buy every genre of books from fiction, to poetry, to books on psychology, with two exceptions.

“We will not buy romance or textbooks,” Judd said.

This will not be a problem for Eastern students as they rent their textbooks, a fact that Eastern graduate Judd remembers fondly.

“I went to college, I came here and I got rid of my TV,” he said. “In college the people I knew read; I had friends that read. The friends I have now, the one thing we talk about is ‘What are you reading?’”

Many of Judd’s books so far have come from his personal library, as well as Goodwill and other stores.

The bookstore is located at 601 Monroe Avenue.

Judd said he is going to respond to what people want to read.

“If someone want to have books on Dungeons and Dragons, then why not?” he said. “We have everything from Kafka to Kingston.”

Bob’s Bookstore is named after Judd’s father, an avid reader.

“He has always been very helpful, and he likes books,” he said.

Judd said he liked having a university nearby.

“There’s more academics,” he said. “People in college, who have taught and worked in the college.”

Judd also owned a bookstore in Chicago called Myopic Books. He anticipated some changes being in a town like Charleston because of its size and different atmosphere.

“There probably won’t be any homeless people sleeping in front of the store begging for change,” he said.

Myopic Books was broken into and robbed several times, something Judd does not think he will have to worry about in Charleston.

“They used a knife, broken bottle, a gun,” he said. “I never could figure out what they were going to steal. We had a safe, and books are heavy.”

He does think there will be some drunk people, as they are located by bars and a college campus.

“I think maybe drunk people will come during Homecoming,” he said. “I went to school here. It’s a fun place.”

A couple of drunk people have already been to the store.

“They came in drunk, said the place looked great and I looked yummy,” Judd said.

Many sober people have also had a positive reaction to the opening of the new store.

“People have been really helpful,” he said. “I really feel welcome. The city has been very nice to us.”

Because many people in Charleston’s population are Eastern students who are leaving in the summer, Judd will take that time to connect with the larger Charleston community.

“School’s going to be out, and I’ll concentrate on getting acclimated with the community,” he said. “There seems to be a distance between the town and the university.”

Judd said he thinks that students are looking for a variety of places downtown where they can go.

“Students are looking for amenities,” he said. “I hope to attract people back to the square. It’s not just bars, although I have no problem with the bars.”

Judd wants the bookstore to be a place where people who love to read can come and study, read books and attend book readings and other literary events.

“There should be a store in Charleston, where people can read or meet, maybe before going to the bars or parties,” Judd said. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Judd started to think a place like this could work after attending an open mic night at Jackson Avenue Coffee.

“I saw this place filled with young people, old people, university students, high school students,” he said. “If you can have all this, you can have people around town, people who want to read books by local authors.”

He said the bookstore could be a place for writers and poets to perform their work.

“We’ll have all kinds of writers, if people want to do that,” Judd said.

Judd said he hopes people will come in and tell him what they are reading.

“I’m really interested in what people are reading now, what books people are telling their friends about, what’s exciting people,” he said.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]