Morgenstern Books will celebrate the store’s one year anniversary during the Evening with Carrie Newcomer event at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday on South Auto Mall Road.
The free event will feature a musical performance, poetry reading and book signing by Newcomer. While tickets to reserve seats are sold out, standing room is still available. Morgenstern’s asks that everyone wear a mask to the event, which will be livestreamed on the store’s Facebook page.
Originally opening in the 1990s, Morgenstern’s was a facet of the Bloomington community until it was forced to close due to competition from large chain bookstores moving into town, according to its webpage. Newcomer said she was a fan of Morgenstern’s back in the ‘90s, and is glad to still be supporting independent bookstores today.
“I'm really looking forward to just being part of this celebration,” Newcomer said. “Acknowledging how independent bookstores really change a community, how they really serve a community in a way that the big box stores don't.”
Newcomer, an acclaimed performing artist who’s released 19 records and three poetry books, will be reading poetry from her most recent works “Until Now: New Poems” and “A Permeable Life: Poems and Essays.”
During her musical performance, Newcomer said she will premiere new songs that she hasn’t released yet, as well as songs she sees as “old friends.” She will sing “Like Molly Brown,” “If Not Now,” “Betty’s Diner” and “My Dog,” among others.
The store’s co-owner, Samantha Eads, became involved with the reopening of Morgenstern’s during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a nurse practitioner, Eads and her husband, Todd, who also worked in healthcare, found themselves struggling with the uncertainty and loss ushered in by the pandemic.
“I asked [Todd] if you could do anything, if you could dream of something that you wanted to do that would make you feel better, what would you do?” Eads said. “After a minute of thinking, he said ‘I would open a bookstore.’ And I thought, ‘Yeah, that's it.’”
Two weeks later, Eads said she and her husband saw an op-ed in the paper from Rick Morgenstern, the store’s former owner in the ‘90s. In the editorial, Morgenstern said he wanted to re-open the original store now that the big box stores had moved out of Bloomington, and he was looking for anyone interested in helping. The Eads contacted Morgenstern and quickly became involved in the project.
Eads said she’s incredibly grateful for the support she’s seen since the reopening, and that they couldn’t have made it without the Bloomington community.
“It's been a dream,” Eads said. “You know, no one gets into book selling to make money right now. It's not a very lucrative profession. But, oh my goodness, it's just so rich with all of the other treasures of life.”
For Eads, Morgenstern’s locality and its focus on Indiana authors is one of its greatest strengths. When people read books, they’re not only connecting with themselves, but the authors as well, Eads said.
“What's really neat for me is, when it happens to be someone in your community who has written the book, or drawn the pictures, taken the photographs, and they're able to speak about their experience, it deepens that connection,” Eads said.
Morgensterns will be celebrating their anniversary throughout the week, Eads said. On the date of their anniversary, July 26, store items will be 26% discounted. On Wednesday, Morgenstern’s will lead a young adult book club. On Friday, celtic group SuperTrad will play in the cafe. On Saturday morning, Malcolm Dalglish will perform folk music. There will be Harry Potter trivia sessions for kids and adults as well. On Sunday, local harpist Theresa Labuda will perform.
Mitch Teplitsky, the store’s marketing director, agreed with Eads that Morgenstern’s has a unique ability to connect with the community.
“So many people talk about the space in terms of feeling good when they're here,” Teplitsky said. “I think people are craving community and they're craving connection, especially coming out of a pandemic. It seems to be a profoundly important place for a lot of people.”
As they celebrate the store’s one year anniversary since reopening, Teplitsky said he’s excited for the future.
“I'm looking forward to creating a really memorable week of celebration, and being a catapult to another year of doing bigger and better things,” Teplitsky said.