I’ve just been reading an interesting Wikipedia article on book-related behaviours. Bibliomania, for example, is described as “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”. In contrast, bibliophilia is the more socially acceptable love of books and is not considered a clinical psychological disorder, unlike bibliophagy (book-eating), bibliokleptomania (compulsive book-stealing) and bibliotaphy (book-burying).
Delving deeper into the article I must admit I began to feel uneasy. Apparently, “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“.
I have to confess that I have often picked up multiple copies of attractive first editions at flea markets, charity shops, etc which I thought I would be able to sell on when I finally have time to become a real book dealer.
An extreme example would be Roald Dahl’s “Guide to Railway Safety”, which I always thought would become collectable one day – I have no less than 18 copies!
This booklet, nicely illustrated by Quentin Blake, has been described as a humorous
public information guide to railway safety for children. A search on BookFinder.com revealed many examples available for sale, ranging in price from around £9 to over £38 (unsigned).
I could go on…
Bibliomania is apparently characterized by “the collecting of books which have no use to the collector nor any great intrinsic value to a genuine book collector”. I”ll take that as my get-out clause and conclude that my book-collecting behaviour has been perfectly normal and absolutely nothing to worry about.
At least I haven’t started eating, stealing or burying books (well not yet, anyway).