By Cassondra Kirby/Staff writer

According to Eastern students, buying books at the campus bookstore in the past has become somewhat of a cut-throat tradition. Students have encountered long lines, crowded chaos and utter confusion. When students learned of the new contract signed with Barnes & Noble College Bookstore Inc. in May, the big question that seemed to be on each Colonel’s mind was when the madness would finally end.

“We have put forth a lot of effort to get in the products the students need and to get everything within the store organized,” said new manager Linda Kenley.

Kenley and her staff’s devotion is one of the biggest changes students have seemed to notice this semester.

“Customer service is the No. 1 priority stressed with employees,” Kenley said.

Barnes & Noble submitted a proposal last April to assume operation of Eastern’s bookstore. The transfer of Eastern’s contract from Wallace’s to Barnes & Noble was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Lexington at the end of the spring semester after the two companies owned by Wallace Wilkinson (Wallace’s Bookstore Inc. and the Wallace Book Co.) said they would not be able to conduct a book-buy back and stock the shelves for summer.

Eastern filed a Chapter 11 motion March 26 seeking release from Wallace’s contract. The motion said Wallace’s did not provide 39 textbook titles for the spring semester, and the bookstore would need $500,000 to bring inventory up to the needed level. Eastern needed $240,000 for buy-back last spring, $500,000 for summer and intersession stock and $1.5 million for fall stock.

Wilkinson was asked by nine creditors to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy Feb. 5. The case was converted to Chapter 11 Feb. 8. Wallace’s Bookstores, Inc. and Wallaces’s Book Co. followed Wilkinson into bankruptcy Feb. 28.

So, does the bookstore comply with student standards? According to Eastern students, yes. Actually, the students are more than pleased with the new store.

Robyn Peyton, a junior at Eastern, said, “The biggest thing that I have noticed about the bookstore is the installation of more cash registers. The lines go much quicker than they have in the past.”

Newcomer Charles Lovins agrees that the new store is a success.

“The workers are not only friendly, but they also take time out to help lost and confused freshmen,” Lovins said.

Friendliness may be a top virtue when it comes to winning some of the students’ hearts, but others claim that they have fallen for its new stylish appeal.

“The new bookstore looks so much nicer and so much more organized,” said sophomore Amy Famborugh.

Senior Robert Fletcher agrees that it does have a more organized appeal, but he thinks the “coolest” part of the store is the new student book-charging plan, a policy that was just adopted this year.

The new Barnes & Noble staff reported they have not had a complaint so far, even though students have just barely dipped their toes in the pool for the 2001-2002 school year.

As worker Peggy Pope puts it, “The store is on the upswing, and despite a bad last year, this one is going to be great!”