Shortly after arriving in Allegheny City (near Pittsburgh) Andrew Carnegie’s Uncle Aitkin had complained in a letter:
(p. 42) “There is no possibility of getting papers or periodicals to read here for a small sum–most of the people being in the habit of purchasing them for their own use. This has been to me a great deprivation. I really find that books here are as dear as in the old country everything considered.”
Uncle Aitkin hoped to remedy this flaw in American cultural life–and make a profit at it–by starting up his own lending library. “I am now convinced that for any one to keep a library and to give works out at a cheaper rate would pay very well & I think I will be engaged in this business in a short time,–after I make a little money by lecturing etc.” Regrettably–for Uncle Aitkin and for Allegheny City’s starved readers–he never got around to setting up his business.
Nasaw, David. Andrew Carnegie. New York: Penguin Press, 2006.
(Note: the pagination of the hardback and paperback editions of Nasaw’s book are the same.)