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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • BRITISH COLUMBIA VACATION-LAND: 1950s

Rent-a-Book: 1940

Rent-a-Book: 1940

Circa 1940: In an effort to generate more foot traffic in his Chicago camera store, my grandfather Edwin Shutan dedicated a section to a book rental library and hired a staff librarian, Miss Michaels (shown). Edwin charged just 10 cents for three days with no deposit or membership required. His library was immaculate and well-stocked with all the latest titles from authors such as Thornton Wilder, Alexander Woollcott and Lloyd C. Douglas, to name a few. View full size.

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Front and center on the table: How to Read a Book.

Mostly forgotten authors

Average cost of a hardcover was between $2 to $4, $2.50 was most common in 1940. Yesterday's popular fiction is today's forgotten novel. The cases feature Death of a Lucky Lady-Virginia Bath, Love in White-Gay Rutherford, The Game of Hearts-Emily Noble, Dust in the Afternoon-Holmes Alexander, This is On Me-Katharine Brush, Murder Comes Back-H. Ashbrrok, Girl at the Cross Roads-Jackson Gregory, Oh, Promised Land-James Street (that one gets rave reviews at goodreads and Amazon), Pass Through Manhattan-Richard Wormster, Moon Tide-Willard Robinson, Hill Billy Doctor-Elizabeth Seifert and Country Growth-August Derelth. This store was in downtown Chicago so most of their customers probably rode the L and read on their trips to and from work. The 40 hour work week was made standard by the government in 1940 and went into effect on October 24th.

Colorizing Challenge

Wouldn't this be great with colorization? Anyone want to try?

Just finished "Mrs. Miniver"

(it's on the table to the right) and it's much better than the movie. Saw several other titles I own, and enjoy. I agree, StefanJ, you would have to be reading nearly full time to finish some of these books in only 3 days.

You Can't Go Home Again

Published in 1940, two years after Thomas Wolfe died at the age of 37.

Shoot with the best, your cost is less

Shutan still exists, but they don't have retail stores anymore. I remember their TV commercial jingle from the '70s.

Pre-TV Video Rental Shop

I like that. And the best thing, no extra equipment needed, except maybe a flashlight and a bedspread for minors. However, three days to go through such a tome? With the kind of working hours they had back then? And out of curiosity, what was the retail price of one of those books? Compared to those 10 cents?

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