Bibliomania: the strange history of compulsive book buying
An essayist looks into the curious past of pathological collectors – and considers her own lifelong urge to hoard ever more volumes
"By the turn of the century, as evidenced by a 1906 Metropolitan Museum of Art article, book collecting was no longer disparaged. Skill was required to separate the gold from the dross; book collecting was now a “whole science” and readers were told that they, too, could score a find, as long as they possessed “keen judgment, faultless taste, inexhaustible patience – and contempt for ridicule”. As the author points out, it takes special knowledge to know that Franklin Evans’s The Story of an Inebriate – a book many would throw away – was actually Walt Whitman’s “first published work, and that it is rare and valuable”. Bibliomania was now a bragging right."