Pre-Order HOSTL Book

Pre-Order HOSTL Book


“Don’t talk to strangers.” Those words are ingrained in us. But we chose to talk to strangers, despite the hurdles of approaching others, because we believe personal stories have the power to connect people and inspire compassion. With that in mind, we’ve been listening to and sharing personal stories of the people of St. Louis for the past 5 years. We’ve tackled important issues, created a platform for dialogue and discussion, and celebrated humanity.

As St. Louis’s story continues to be written, we want to take a snapshot of the past 5 years the way that we always have — one photo and story at a time. Typically, the Humans of St. Louis (HOSTL) posts only get a day of playtime on the page. But the stories are still relevant and timely and enjoyed by so many.

So we’re making a book! We’re self-publishing, and we’re keeping it local, from the stories to the team of creatives, from the printer to the distributor. And we’re inviting you to join us to make something truly unique of, by, and for St. Louis!


Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you need to make a book?

Our stories typically only get a day of playtime on social media before the next one goes up, but we recognize that the messages and lessons in them are still relevant. That is why our hope is to honor and elevate the stories and the people who are telling them by taking the content offline and accessing a wider audience who can experience them in person to:

  • Give the gift of reflection that takes place when you hold and read a book

  • Offer something concrete and tangible with unique value, separate from only sharing these stories on social media

  • Generate another avenue to talk about themes addressed in the stories specific to STL

  • Memorialize and permanently share these powerful point of views from the people who know St. Louis best.

I’d like a copy of the book, but I can’t afford it.

We will be donating one copy of the HOSTL book to all Louis area libraries in the city and the county to make it available to patrons. If you’d like more books in the library system, help us make this possible by requesting this from your library, too.

I have a reading disability or visual impairment; how can I access the book?

We welcome any opportunity to make this book more accessible to more people. If you have suggestions for how we can produce and distribute this publication to help a wider audience enjoy it, contact us by sending an email to

How can I get a copy if I’m featured in the book?

Without you, this publication wouldn’t be possible! As a thank you for sharing your story in the book, we are giving every featured Human a free copy. We will be working to reach every featured Human to get an additional release specifically for the book and get your updated contact information. If we haven’t reached you and you haven’t received your copy after they’re printed, send us an email with your name, address, and phone number to

Is there going to be a Humans of St. Louis book tour?

If you’d like to invite HOSTL for a speaking engagement and offer books to the audience, please send an email to with information about dates, times, and your specific ask.

Are you doing a follow-up book to the first one?

We would love to, and we’ve certainly got the stories! But first we have to see how this one goes. If you’d like to sponsor Volume II, let us know.

I can see all of the HOSTL posts for free online. Why should I buy a book?

In our digitally-based world, it’s easy to forget the impact a real, physical photo can have. We want to share the stories we’ve gathered of a St. Louis that is both familiar and unknown, in a book, in your library, to give as a gift to your friend or your cousin who moved away from St. Louis ten years ago, or so you can put a bookmark in that one story that made you laugh, or weep, or just feel a little closer to home. The Humans of St. Louis deserve to be memorialized in a tangible record and that’s what we want to gift to all of us.

Do you ship outside the US?

Yes, we do! The prices will be higher for S&H, but e-mail us at, and we’ll be able to ship it to you wherever you are when the book is printed.

When will I get my book?

It’s been quite the process to put this book together from choosing the stories, ordering them, getting permissions, finding the right team of people to build the thing, and coordinating all our schedules to put all the parts together. We are currently working on the design and hope to have the product printed by Spring 2020. We’ll provide updates as the process continues on our social media sites, and quarterly through the Kickstarter page and via digital newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here.

Something went wrong with my order. Who do I contact?

Please email about any issues or questions.


Will I be able to buy this book after the pre-ordering is complete?

Definitely! Once the book is printed, we plan to make it available in local St. Louis and regional retailers as well.

Who’s making money off of this?

No one person. Humans of St. Louis is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which exists to tell the stories of people in St. Louis. The money raised in the Kickstarter campaign will primarily pay for printing and distribution of the book, and secondarily for the book’s writing, design, editing, and support (such as marketing and fundraising). HOSTL has one Lead Storyteller and four team Storytellers a volunteer board and a volunteer editing team. While working to see the mission of storytelling grow in the St. Louis region, they are supported by the money coming into HOSTL through print sales, commissioned work, and giving presentations about the work.

In addition, we’ll be donating a portion of book sales (not the Kickstarter funds) to places that address the type of needs we’ve seen often from our featured Humans who are experiencing unfortunate circumstances like food insecurity, homelessness, and lack of healthcare. Our first organization will be PotBangerz, a St. Louis based 501(c)(3) family of community leaders who fight injustice by uplifting the community, meeting nutritional needs, helping unhoused families navigate their way to permanent housing, and advocating for them when they need it the most.

Who made the video?

We are lucky to be working with local filmmakers and videographers Jon Alexander and Justin Barr.


Who’s making the book?

This book is 100% made in St. Louis! See our team section for introductions to the local team designing, fundraising, writing, editing, and championing this big and beautiful St. Louis book. It is also funded in part from 445 backers who pledged to the HOSTL Kickstarter Campaign in July 2018. The additional contributors are recognized in the acknowledgment section at the bottom of our website.


If you’re keeping this all local, why isn’t the printer in St. Louis?

Self-publishing a book is an expensive process; in order to maximize the possibility of getting this book made and keep costs under what we can raise money for, we looked for the closest (and also best) printer we could find, who is also in alignment with the work we do. Versa Press is in East Peoria, Illinois (about 3 hours northeast of St. Louis) and will deliver a great product at a price within our budget. In a time when most books are printed overseas, we’re willing to consider Central Illinois as part of the region, and it’s the most distant part of our whole team!

What if I want to donate something that’s not a reward level?

We would love to talk to you about that. If you’re interested in further donations or being involved with getting this book made in any other ways, please contact Lindy Drew at

How else can I help support the book project?

Share the link to this page with your network on social media, tell your friends and family about HOSTL’s storytelling, attend an event we’re hosting; or share the Humans of St. Louis pages. You can also invite HOSTL to give a speaking presentation to your school or business, donate to the project to appear in the acknowledgments section of the book, or purchase prints to display HOSTL stories as an exhibition on some empty walls around town. We also have a volunteer sign up if you’d like to help once the book is ready to deliver to local retailers.