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Rising Stars: Meet Mark Pannebecker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Pannebecker.

Mark, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
The idea for an indie bookstore and artisan cafe came to me in an epiphany one day while driving down Cherokee St. I saw a corner building for rent and the whole concept arrived in one thought: To have a bookstore that exclusively sold indie authors and publishers, have a cafe that offered small plate food, and have a small space in which to hold various literary-influenced events in the evening.

The concept changed slightly as we developed Spine Indie Bookstore & Cafe, but the vision held pretty close to the original. We don’t offer small plate foods due only to the cost becoming prohibitive, but we do offer some outsourced foods from local chefs and pastries.

The major thing that changed in my business plan is the fact that we’re selling more books than I thought we would!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The road to Spine was relatively smooth.

I was able to find most of the funding I (thought) that I’d need; I found a great location–better than the original building I was looking at on Cherokee; and the buildout went fairly smoothly (though a little slow).

The biggest obstacle was that I–in fact–did not have enough funding needed due to the poor business plan that left me operating on a shoestring budget when I opened later in the year than I’d planned: Late November. It left me struggling and scrambling for funds throughout the winter.

It about killed me!

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I used to be a filmmaker who started writing screenplays to direct and produce. However, I wasn’t a very good filmmaker, so I abandoned that plan, but I loved the writing process and the segue from filmmaker to writer was painless and effortless.

I started traveling extensively and writing in any and every genre that fit the story. Eventually, I self-published because I couldn’t find an agent or publisher to accept my manuscripts. It was then I fell in love with the indie author and publisher community.

I founded the St. Louis Indie Book Fair to help foster indie authors/publishers. So, when I had my epiphany about a bookstore, it couldn’t have been anything else but indie.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
I learned that a lot of people started listening to their inner creative voice.


  • Our pricing is competitive with other cafes.
  • Our books range from $7.99 to 49.99

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