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My Job in 5: Kris Kleindienst

Kris Kleindienst is co-owner of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri, USA and is at the helm of this week's My Job in 5.
Written on 03/03/2020 - 13:45

1)  Describe Your Role:

I co-own Left Bank Books, where I have worked for 45 years, since I was but a tot. I came here in 1974 in need of a job and I loved the store. I still need a job, and I still love the store. Responsibility for its care and feeding became mine to share with one or two business partners back in 1979.  Sweat equity was our investment. Over the years, the other owners have come and gone and come, but I remain.

2) What do you like Best About Your Role:

Running a bookstore is like creating a recipe over which you are constantly fussing, adding a little more of this, less of that. What books we carry, which authors we host, and how we interact with our community. is never-ending opportunity to get that recipe just right. And that's just it--there is no one right way and there are no boring days. 

3) Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?

This is the year we reinvigorate our fairly robust author event programming and work with our nonprofit arm to enhance what we are able to do with community partnerships, larger off-site events, and some new types of programming that go beyond a person standing at a podium reading from their book. We are also expanding our meager foreign language offerings this year. And we are recommitting to being intentional in our staffing around diversity, equity and inclusion.

4) What skills do I need in my role?

It is absolutely necessary to stay curious about everything, to be willing to adapt and change. If you don't like people, don't own a bookstore. Ditto for books. You must also be a jack of all trades. Only owners clean litter boxes and fix toilets!

5) What is your advice to those looking to work in the industry?

Working in a bookstore is an excellent platform from which to launch your book industry career. You'll have the broadest view of the entire industry from this vantage point. And, you might just decide that bookselling IS your career and go no further.