Local bookstore owner and 1950 KSU graduate returns to see exhibit in his honor

Jamie Taylor

Following a fire at local bookstore owner Frank Klein’s building, the reference books in the store’s basement were submerged in water. Kent State Library employees helped salvage the collection, laying the books out to dry, being careful not to harm the frail pages.

“It was a beautiful thing to see people come out and volunteer. It was nice to know people loved the store that much,” he said.

Klein was on campus Tuesday to view the exhibit the library created to honor him and his third-generation Akron-based family business, The Bookseller, Inc.

Beaming with pride, Klein explained the different aspects of the display to a circle of friends and family. The display features pictures, drawings, bookmarks, Christmas cards and other items important to the history of Klein’s store.

“It is really great to look at,” Klein said about the display. “I can’t believe how far back it goes. There are some great pictures of my father when he was my age.”

Photos of the store pets were also displayed. These dogs and cats were always around, Klein said. He even joked that one dog practically raised his grandchildren.

“Some people will always remember the small bull terrier that sat in the front window,” Klein said.

The Booksellers, Inc.’s inventory mostly comprises books that were either given to the Klein family from people downsizing their collections or people who just want to make sure their books are preserved, Klein said.

Klein said he has worked with many talented writers and artists who went on to become famous. One artist, whose Christmas card is on display, went on to work with Jim Henson.

Klein has a long past with the university. He was a 1950 graduate from Kent State with a degree in English and education.

“I had many good times at Kent State. We beat Akron University four years in a row and helped to start the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, which became national after I graduated

“It is funny to be at Kent now because half the buildings are named after professors I had,” Klein said.

Besides being a Kent State alumnus and the owner of The Bookseller, Inc., Klein is also a veteran of three wars. He was in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War as part of the helicopter operating unit.

“In the 1950s, it was hard to support a wife and family in the book selling industry and my next year’s teaching salary was only going to be $18,000. Through KSU, I was able to get an ROTC commission,” Klein said.

Mark Weber, dean of library and media services, was responsible for the exhibit and Klein’s visit to the campus.

“My family owned and operated a hat and shoe store for over 120 years, so I admire the Klein family and wanted to do something for them because independent book stores are disappearing,” Weber said.

Contact Library Services reporter Jamie Taylor at [email protected].