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true true true

Are There Plans to Open a Barnes and Noble or New Bookstore in Bloomington?

Bloomington Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble does not have plans to return to Bloomington as of now. (Courtesy of IDS)

In February of 2019, Bloomington’s Barnes and Noble closed its doors for good and left the community with an immense need for more books.

Nancy Boerner, a retired collection development librarian and avid reader, had lost her favorite place to browse and find new books when Barnes and Noble closed. She then asked City Limits to find out if there were plans for Barnes and Noble to return and if there were any other bookstores planning on opening in the area. 

Boerner had visited Barnes Noble at least every other week and after it closed, she knew she wouldn’t find another place to satisfy her book needs. For her, Barnes and Noble was more than just a book store.

“They build a sense of community. I heard a lot of people say after Barnes and Noble closed that they were really sad about it and I know one person that won’t go to Aldi’s because it took his Barnes and Noble away,” she says.

According to Barnes and Noble’s media spokesperson Alex Ortolani, the company is interested in finding another location but has nothing planned as of now. He also stated that the reason the store closed at its prior location was because the lease had expired and there was not an opportunity to renew it.

Boerner says there was one other store in particular that she remembers for its space and book selection that was in Bloomington before Barnes and Noble opened its doors.

Morgenstern’s was a local Bloomington bookstore that opened in November of 1990. Rick Morgenstern, the owner, opened the store with the goal of creating an intimate gathering spot for the community.

The store offered poetry readings, children's events, and even had jazz bands play on weekends. But within a few years of the store’s opening, big market stores like Borders and Barnes and Noble opened in Bloomington, one right next door and the other across the street, from Morgenstern’s, ultimately putting the local bookseller out of business.

But there may be hope for Rick Morgenstern and his business now that the market has changed and those big stores are gone.

“I didn’t even want to consider doing it again while one or both of them were here and in February, we got the announcement in the Herald Times that Barnes and Noble was leaving and I immediately thought maybe it’s time now,” he says. 

With fundraising efforts for the new store under way, Morgenstern hopes that 2020 will finally be his year. At its core, the new store will be a bookstore but Morgenstern has big plans for his new space. Rick says he is both excited and scared to start this journey especially with the closing of his first store still looming in the back of his mind. His vision is not to recreate his old store but to create something new based off his experience with his previous store.

“What we intend to offer which is actually organically and without intention offered in our first store which is the experience of being in a really cool place, a community gathering spot where you can hang out for hours if not the entire day,” he says. 

Rick believes there is something special about being able to go to a bookstore to browse or find a new book or to simply just enjoy the culture. For him, the experience is everything.

“The only group that we can really strongly speak to are very strong community-based people who support independent business and want to put their dollars there and I’m scared and I’m also hopeful and excited that Bloomington has enough of that mindset that we can actually make it in today’s climate.”

While plans for a new Morgenstern’s are still in the works, there are still places to buy books in Bloomington including the Book Corner at Walnut and Kirkwood, Caveat Emptor Used Books on Walnut, and Half Price Books Outlet on the west side.

Morgenstern wants feedback from the community on his ideas and is actively seeking additional investment partners. He can be contacted at morgensternbooksellers@gmail.com.

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