Bibliomania can be a symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder which involves the collecting or even hoarding of books to the point where social relations or health are damaged.

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.[1] Bibliomania is not a psychological disorder recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in its DSM-IV.[2]

The term was coined by John Ferriar (1761–1815), a physician at the Manchester Royal Infirmary.[3] Ferriar coined the term in 1809 in a poem he dedicated to his bibliomanic friend, Richard Heber (1773–1833).[4] 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".[5]

In the late nineteenth century, book collections and collectors of note were given regular coverage as curiosities.[6]

Holbrook Jackson was to follow the work of Ferriar and Dibdin later in the work The Anatomy of Bibliomania[7]

People with bibliomania

Depictions in fiction

See also


  1. ^ "Hooked and Booked". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  2. ^ Agrawal, Mukta (2015-09-09). "A Detailed Study About Bibliomania". InlifeHealthCare. Archived from the original on 2019-03-02. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  3. ^ Kendall, Joshua. The man who made lists: love, death, madness, and the creation of Roget's Thesaurus, Penguin Group, USA, 2008, p. 154.
  4. ^ Ferriar, John (1809). The Bibliomania, An Epistle to Richard Heber, Esq. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, in the Strand; J. Haddock, Warrington. p. 1. The Bibliomania: An Epistle to Richard Heber.
  5. ^ Connell, Philip (Summer 2000). "Bibliomania: Book Collecting, Cultural Politics, and the Rise of Literary Heritage in Romantic Britain". Representations. 71: 24–47. doi:10.1525/rep.2000.71.1.01p00764.
  6. ^ "LITERATURE". The Australasian. LIV (1415). Victoria, Australia. 13 May 1893. p. 45. Retrieved 18 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ Jackson, Halbrook (1930), The Anatomy of bibliomania (1st ed.), The Soncino Press, retrieved 18 November 2017, also Jackson, Holbrook (1932), The anatomy of bibliomania (3rd ed., rev ed.), Soncino Press, retrieved 18 November 2017
  8. ^ Book Collecting: A.N.L. Munby: A Balanced View
  9. ^ "A Book Thief.; A Providence Preacher's Strange Transactions In Rare Volumes". The New York Times. 1881-07-28. Retrieved 2010-04-26.

Further reading

External video
video icon Booknotes interview with Nicholas Basbanes on A Gentle Madness, October 15, 1995, C-SPAN