All King’s College students view the Barnes and Noble on Public Square in a different
way. Some see it as a building where they need to spend $400 on textbooks. Some look at it as
a place to get away from noisy residence halls when they need to study for an exam the next
morning. Even more look at it as a place to get really good coffee and pastries. However, not
many Students see Barnes and Noble as a place for great live music. New manager, John
Chaump, is trying to change that.
Chaump, a Philadelphia native who recently transferred to the Wilkes-Barre store, wants
to make this Barnes and Noble different from any other stores where he has worked. He hopes
that the addition of bands in his store will help the Barnes and Noble sales, but his larger goal is
to help downtown Wilkes-Barre.
“I want to make this more than just a bookstore,” said Chaump. “I want to make it a
Chaump’s goal to make Barnes and Noble a downtown destination may be a new one, but
it is also showing promise. Anyone that has live near Wilkes-Barre for more than five years can
see the downtown area is changing. The additions of Club Mardi Gras and Movies 14 have
helped the downtown revitalization, but Chaump and others believe offering live acoustic and
electric music on a regular basis will make the area even better. Performers such as Three
Imaginary Boys, Steve Husted, Dustin Switzer, and many more will be performing every
Wednesday and Friday nights.
One of the perks about live music at Barnes and Noble is that it is free. As college
students, most understand how important it is to save money so free entertainment is something
to be desired. Most students know when the local wing nights are, what nights have the best
happy hours, and when the best parties are, but most of those are usually weekend events that
cost money. Live music is just a great way to break many weekly routines.
The Barnes and Noble staff is well aware of the safety concerns of students due to crime
incidents in the area. Chaump assures that all customers, employees, and performers will be
safe, even if he must involve himself personally.
Anyone that enjoys the peace and tranquility of Barnes and Noble and may not enjoy
hearing loud, live music can also be happy about this new endeavor. The staff realizes they still
have a bookstore to run, and they assure the music will be quiet enough for shoppers to search
for books and read near the back of the store with minimal disturbance.
Many local bands and solo artists enjoy playing at Barnes and Noble. Steve Husted,
guitarist for local rock band, Lessen One, plays there on the first Wednesday of every month.
Husted enjoys the chance to perform as a solo artist and play for a smaller crowd. Lessen One
play at numerous bars along the east coast for hundreds of people each night. Although that
sounds like many rock stars’ dream, he enjoys the change of music and scenery when performing
in a bookstore and coffee shop.
Rob Husty, lead guitarist for Three Imaginary Boys, also enjoys playing for smaller and a
different crowd at Barnes and Noble.
“We don’t bring all of our equipment or get to play as loud as we normally do,” said
Husty, “but it is great to see all the college kids come here on a Friday night to watch us.”
Three Imaginary Boys can be seen performing at Barnes and Noble on the first Friday of
every month. Husted and Husty agree that the live entertainment will help the downtown area.
Husty thinks that having a place for both Wilkes and King’s students, along with students from
the surrounding high schools, to get together and see free entertainment will help Barnes and
Noble and other downtown attractions, such as Movies 14.
Hopefully, having music at Barnes and Noble will make students realize that it is more than just
a place to get coffee and buy textbooks. The staff there has worked very hard to book some of
the best local musicians and make it an enjoyable experience for customers and performers alike.