The Guild Motor Company


“A Complete Rental Library on Wheels”, being pulled by a Ford.

One of the only bookmobiles to run as a successful for-profit venture, The Guild Motor Company began operating in 1935. It was an extension of the Guild Rental Library, a business that rented out best-selling books as a sort of cross between a bookshop and video store. The moving rental library was the brainchild of Guild owner Harold C. Kreisher, who had been running a series of privately-owned branch libraries in the West LA and Beverly Hills area. Noticing some of his branches weren’t making money, he built a bookmobile to take his business to low-performing areas. He designed and supervised the construction of the trailer himself, and a Ford coupe was used to haul the shop.  Capable of carrying 800 volumes, customers could also request any of the 12,000 books from his 60 branches. The Ford was equipped with chimes (“easily heard a block away”) that alerted residents of the moving rental library’s approach, an idea borrowed directly from ice cream trucks. Kreisher also mailed flyers to prospective customers, explaining their services and how to arrange for the trailer to stop at their homes. Patrons had the option of letting the driver drop off the books they’d requested on their doorsteps. Sometimes the driver simply left behind something he assumed customers would enjoy, based on past check-outs. The charge was 3 cents per day per book, along with the registration fee of a quarter. Each book was wrapped in a jacket of ads as further revenue.

“Motor Library Builds Business.” The Publisher’s Weekly. March 7th, 1936. de France, Sherrill. Pgs. 1065-1067.

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