Sunday, September 23, 2018

Can Bibliomania Cure The World?

The Anatomy of Bibliomania was published in 1950.  Thirty-one years later it was reprinted as The Book About Books, by Hollbrook Jackson.  Now, nearly 70 years after its original publication, I took a look at the book and find it interesting as to how the world of books was catalogued, judged, and experienced.

Who knew there was so much to consider when looking at books?  But there are numerous paths one can go down and explore the following:

·         The pleasure of books and how it varies with time and place
·         The value of reading for its own sake
·         The role of poverty or wealth on one’s reading
·         The size and shape of books
·         The praise of books
·         The bibliomania engendered by books
·         The art of reading – speed, location, book selection
·         Whether books can be our friends
·         Reading with a purpose, pleasure, or passion
·         The morality of books
·         Old vs. new books
·         Books as a substitute for life
·         Against idle and desultory reading
·         Books as furniture or decoration
·         Book folk defined
·         Reading multiple books simultaneously

It also explores many facets of the book in our lives, including:

·         Books in prison, battlefields, bed, bathroom, or vacationing
·         The influence of books
·         The might and liberation of books
·         Books that instruct our lives
·         Where books have failed
·         When life imitates books
·         The power of a book
·         In praise of libraries
·         The book borrower, customer, thief and sharer
·         The artful quality of book bindings and packaging
·         Books lost and found
·         Neglected or misused books
·         Hunting for books, book collecting, and book auctions
·         First editions, rare books, autographed books
·         The bookworm
·         Book love and madness
·         Hoarding books and parting with them

The flap copy to the 1981 edition summed books up perfectly:

“It has been said that when man needs company, a book is his best friend; when in doubt, a book is his adviser; when in damp spirits, a book is his comforter; and when a man is bored, a book is his best recreation.  Books are the lifeblood of humankind.”

The Book About Books declares and shows a monumental reverence for the written word. Millions of book readers feel as the deceased author felt, that books are such significant pieces of our lives.  Once you discover the beauty, utility, entertainment, and knowledge that books present to us, you can’t look at life the same any longer.  Books, for many, become our food, medication, clothing, movies, sports, and love. It’s only right that a tribute to books is made so publicly and profoundly as is done in a book such as this.

But The Book About Books was written nearly three score and a decade ago.  A lot has changed in the world since then.  No longer are books alone.  We now have the ever-expanding Internet along with an ever-shrinking traditional media troika of newspaper/magazine-radio-television.  Books themselves have undergone great change. 

No longer are books chosen for publication by a handful of editors at book publishers – now anyone can be published and there are more books in a week published now than may have been released in 1950.  

Books are no longer sold only in bookstores and drugstores – they are sold online and at big box retailers that didn’t even exist back then.  Indeed, the diversity of voices offered to the public today is completely overwhelming compared to who had the power back then.  So, with all of these changes to books and society, is bibliomania alive and well?

Books have survived a lot – bans, censoring, and competing sources of information and entertainment. But they continue to play a significant role in both society and the individual lives of their readers.  Look at what books do for us:

·         They get turned into great movies, plays, and TV shows
·         They inspire news media coverage of the subject matter covered
·         They educate us and teach us how to live or do something
·         They entertain us and bring joy to our angry, lonely, sad souls
·         They make us think and force us to choose a way to see things
·         They preserve history while also judging and analyzing it
·         They transport us to places we will never visit
·         They help us imagine non-existent or destroyed worlds
·         They expose us to ideas, customs, and beliefs that we otherwise wouldn’t ponder

Okay, that was a truncated list. As you can see, books are still very powerful in the role they play in our evolution as a world, nation, or individual. If all I can do is write books and read, I would feel fulfilled.  I’m not alone in that thinking process.  Bibliomania is still in the hearts and souls of a world eager to discover and embrace truth, peace, love and democracy.

May books lead the way to helping each of us find our purpose, pleasure and passion.  A world that reads more books, better books, and the right books is a world that will grow, prosper and evolve. Thank you, books and book-lovers.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America and participated in a PR panel at the Sarah Lawrence College Writers Institute Conference.

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