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What is Bibliomania?

What is Bibliomania?

Bibliomania literally translates into “book madness”. It is oftentimes referred as a possible symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder (more commonly known by its acronym OCD) which involves massive happiness in collecting, to the extent of hoarding, books to the point where social relations or personal health are extremely damaged to a point of no return.

Considered only one of the several unusual behaviors associated with books (bibliophilia, bibliophagy, and bibliokleptomania exist as well), bibliomania is characterized mostly by the collecting of books which have no use to the collector nor any value to an actual book collector. Bibliomaniacs usually won’t read the books they purchase, using the excuses of “I have no time to read” or “my reading list is too long” as an escape from questions such as “what is your favorite book?” or “where did you get all of these?”.

While regular book lovers buy books for the knowledge inside of them, bibliomaniacs amass books, piling them higher and higher and determining their import only by weight, measurement, and exterior qualities knowing they’ll never open them. While people with this “disorder” love books for their outward appearances, normal people tend to like them for the stories inside and what was actually written. For bibliomaniacs, books are treasures to be protected at all costs. For normal book lovers and buyers (often called bibliophiles), books are friends that deserve to be enjoyed by all.

What are the Symptoms of Bibliomania?


A Bibliomaniac’s Shelf

One of the most used examples as a symptom of bibliomania would be cluttered bookshelves and an extreme usage of storage facilities to store hauls of books. Many people with this so-called disorder run out of space for bookshelves quickly, causing clutter to form and a “bricks and mortar” styled layout of books, magazines, and paper to spread across the floors nearby.

The purchase of multiple copies of the same book and edition and the accumulation of books beyond possible capacity of use, sales, or enjoyment are frequent symptoms of this mindset is also a major symptom.

By grabbing multiple copies of the same book for no logical reason, the person is obsessed with not the quality, but the quantity of their collection.

What are the “Treatments” for Bibliomania?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy  is commonly implemented for therapy against compulsive hoarding, including bibliomania.

  1. Discover why they are so compelled to hoard.
  2. Learn to organize the possessions in order to decide what to discard.
  3. Develop the decision-making skills of the bibliomaniac.
    • “Do you really need that book?”
    • “What are you going to do with that book?”
  4. Remove their collections. Out of site, out of mind.
  5. Help them gain and perform relaxation skills so they feel more attached to reality.
  6. Attend family therapy so they realize they need to reduce social isolation and social anxiety.
  7. Be open to trying psychiatric hospitalization if the hoarding is serious.
    • However, the DSM-IV doesn’t recognize the term Bibliomania. If treated at a psychiatric hospital, they will be treated for obsessive compulsive disorder or hoarding.
  8. Have consultations to keep them on track.

Individuals who suffer through hoarding behaviors often have low motivation, and they are usually indecisive and procrastinators, which may frequently lead to dropping out of or showing little result in treatment.

Famous People With Bibliomania

Stephen Blumberg

Stephen Blumberg

Stephen Blumberg, who was diagnosed with bibliomania and bibliokleptomania, was convicted of stealing $5.3 million worth of books in 1990. Since then, he has been arrested multiple times for stealing antiques and, you guessed it, books.

Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872) suffered from severe bibliomania. His collection, containing over 160,000 books and manuscripts, was still being auctioned off over 100 years after his death.


Bibliomania is not a psychological disorder recognized by the DSM-IV, but it is considered a clinical disorder pinned closely to the relation is shares with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many bibliomaniacs turn to bibliokleptomaniacs, leading them, like Mr. Stephen Blumberg, to a path of criminal activity and theft. Such a massive leap for a small and simple disorder that isn’t even recognized by leading psychologists.

Many people wouldn’t help someone different from themselves. Society has created out-groups and unseen prejudice against separate mentalities and disabilities. While you would definitely help someone with a physical problem such as a broken leg or empathy deserving physical disability, would you help someone having a panic attack? Or an alcoholic who has passed out in front of you? Would you help someone slowly being eaten away by their own thoughts? Someone crazy in your eyes? People tend to frown on insanity, but what people don’t realize that insanity comes in many forms.


“Biblioholism, Revised Edition: The Literary Addiction Paperback – April 30, 2001.” Biblioholism, Revised Edition: The Literary Addiction: Tom Raabe: 0757739024004: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.

Connell, Philip (Summer 2000). “Bibliomania: Book Collecting, Cultural Politics, and the Rise of Literary Heritage in Romantic Britain”.

Book Collecting: A.N.L. Munby: A Balanced View

“A Book Thief.; A Providence Preacher’s Strange Transactions In Rare Volumes”. The New York Times. 1881-07-28. Retrieved 2010-04-26.

“Epidemiology of hoarding disorder”. Bjp.rcpsych.org. 2013-10-24.

Frost, Randy (2010). “Treatment of Hoarding”. Expert Review. 2 10: 251–261.

Sholl, Jessie (2010). Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding. Gallery Books.

Frost, Randy O.; Steketee, Gail (2011). Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. Mariner Books.



I’m a writer and historian. Simple enough, right? I enjoy philosophy, sociology, social psychology, politics, basic programming, statistics, and old books. Unlike the stereotypical leftist, I do not necessarily censor myself. I apologize in advance if you find yourself offended by something I’ve said; but I do enjoy hearing criticism and having debates.

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Joseph Kaminski
I’m a writer and historian. Simple enough, right? I enjoy philosophy, sociology, social psychology, politics, basic programming, statistics, and old books.


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