Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lending libraries

Lending libraries are a phenomenon that's not generally known in Finland. I don't know for sure, but there may have been some in the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th. Lending libraries flourished in the US and the UK in the 1930's and 1940's and some lasted into the sixties. You had to pay a small fee to lend the books. (At least that's how I gathered the thing worked.) There were also some publishers who put out only books targeted for the lending libraries. In the UK, Robert Hale started out doing these and they still do books mostly for libraries.

Here's a very nice site about American lending library publishers, especially the ones that did crime and mystery novels.


Peter Rozovsky said...

Colin Watson's entertaining social history of English crime fiction, Snobbery With Violence, outlines the role of lending libraries in the history of English reading habits. I posted some comments about the book here,, though not about the lending-library chapters.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Juri said...

Thanks, Peter, for pointing that out. An interesting discussion. Haven't read Watson's book myself, but I seem to remember it's in the local library - must get to it someday.

One of these days... (Sigh..)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Juri, for your inspiring blog. It's quite new to me and I enjoy seeing pulp from a Finnish point of view.
Lending libraries specializing in pulp fiction and subsequently publishers doing the same thing seems to be a phenomenon from the the 1930s to the 1960s. In Nazi-Germany they were flourishing as well with only the war putting an end to that. After the war it took on a new lease of life. 220 different publishers produced about 30 to 40 thousand individual titles from about 1950 to 1970. These titles were not available at bookshops, only at one of the 28.000 lending libraries in Western Germany. All that's left now is a small community of collectors. At Ebay there are always more than 300 titles of "Leihbuecher" available.