Bibliomania is not to be confused with bibliophilia, which is the (psychologically healthy) love of books, and as such is not considered a clinical psychological disorder.
One of several unusual behaviors associated with books, bibliomania is characterized by the collecting of books which have no use to the collector nor any great intrinsic value to a genuine book collector. The purchase of multiple copies of the same book and edition and the accumulation of books beyond possible capacity of use or enjoyment are frequent symptoms of bibliomania. Bibliomania is not a psychological disorder recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in its DSM-IV.
The term was coined by John Ferriar (1761–1815), a physician at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Ferriar coined the term in 1809 in a poem he dedicated to his bibliomanic friend, Richard Heber (1773–1833). In the early nineteenth century, "bibliomania" was used in popular discourse (such as in periodical essays and poems) to describe obsessive book collectors.
In 1809, the Reverend Thomas Frognall Dibdin published Bibliomania; or Book Madness, a work described by literary critic Philip Connell as "a series of bizarre rambling dialogues which together comprised a kind of dramatized mock pathology, lavishly illustrated and, in the second edition, embellished with extensive footnotes on bibliography and the history of book collecting." The "symptoms" displayed by the biblomaniacs in Dibdin's work include "an obsession with uncut copies, fine paper or vellum pages, unique copies, first editions, blackletter books, illustrated copies, association copies, and condemned or suppressed works".
In the late nineteenth century, book collections and collectors of note were given regular coverage as curiosities.
The Bibliomania: An Epistle to Richard Heber.
|Booknotes interview with Nicholas Basbanes on A Gentle Madness, October 15, 1995, C-SPAN|