New-York Quarterly, Vol. 4, Issue 1-2, 1855 (p. 4).
I was interested to find that ‘instant libraries’ go back at least to 1855. The Strand Bookstore, here in NYC is still doing it, selling books by the foot, and lists Steven Spielberg (surprising) and Ralph Lauren Polo (not so surprising) as clients. At least in 1855 there was a pretense that the content of the books mattered a bit (“the best authors”) whereas in 2011 it is just the appearance (“antique leather books”) that matters, although the Strand does offer subject specific books by the foot for intellectually discerning decorators. Inflation alert: Currently, Neiman Marcus has a 250 volume instant library for $125,000 in their ‘Christmas Book’, and a Boing Boing article about this Hideous Bespoke Library with Pre-Selected Books: $125,000.