About Nicholas A. Basbanes
Well known for writing about books, bibliophiles, and various aspects of book culture, Nicholas Basbanes has worked as an award-winning investigative reporter, a literary editor, a lecturer, and a nationally syndicated columnist. More…

Nick on C-SPAN2 BookTV

Book TV
A one-hour visit with Nick in his home library, and in his office among his books, aired recently on C-SPAN BookTV, and can now be viewed online. To see it, click here
Gently Mad Blog
Entries From Nick

In Memoriam, Bookseller and Author Patricia Ahearn

The antiquarian book world lost one of its nicest, most beloved figures this week with the passing of Patricia Ahearn,... read more

A Golden Age of Papermaking?

A couple of days ago, I received a number of questions from Gregory McNamee, a freelance writer who does book-related... read more

'Double Fold' at 10

Has it really been ten years since Nicholson Baker shook up the cozy world inhabited by librarians and conservators with... read more

Memories on the Block

Call it bittersweet, if you like, but the sale next week of the entire contents of the City of Boston's... read more

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Upcoming Appearances

Biblioteca Nacional de México, "Common Bond: A Fellowship of Books and Paper"

Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, noon to 1 p.m., free and public

Auditorio “José María Vigil” del IIB, Mexico City

Festival el Libro y sus lectores, "Paper and Technology," lecture

Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, 5 to 6 p.m., free and public

Conferencias magistrales, Mexico City (full location details on link above)

University of Dayton, Roesch Library, Lecture and Signing

Monday, Sept. 29, 2014, 7:300 to 9 p.m., free and public

Kennedy Union Ballroom

Details of other signings and events will be posted as finalized.

Order Your Copy of On Paper

On Paper“On Paper: The Everything of Its Two Thousand Year History” (Alfred A. Knopf) – Nick's ninth book – is available in bookstores everywhere, or can be purchased online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. Released in October 2013, it has been named a Best Book of the Year by the American Library Association, Kirkus Reviews, Bloomberg News, Mother Jones, and the National Post of Canada. It was the recipient in 2008 of a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship.


On Paper Reviews

The Washington Post

So much for those fantasies of the paperless office from the early days of the Internet. And nobody is happier to see the old sheets hanging around than Nicholas Basbanes.  The celebrated bibliophile spoke this afternoon at the Library of Congress about his new book, "On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History" (Knopf). Continue Reading


Barnes & Noble

For as the self-confessed bibliophiliac Nicholas Basbanes points out in his natty, bright, and good-humored On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History, paper has been the mode of choice to transport information -- personal letters, last wills and testaments, transit documents, court summons -- for century upon century, and is still the go-to substance when, as a government worker, soldier, or journalist, there is need to "cover your ass with paper" -- though there's always a risk that same paper trail will burn its way back to you, and your backside.  Continue Reading


About the Author

The Definitive Edition

A Gentle Madness

When first published, A Gentle Madness astounded and delighted readers about the passion and expense a collector is willing to make in pursuit of the book. Written before the emergence of the Internet but newly updated for the 21st Century reader, A Gentle Madness captures that last moment in time when collectors pursued their passions in dusty bookshops and street stalls, high stakes auctions, and the subterfuge worthy of a true bibliomaniac. An adventure among the afflicted, A Gentle Madness is vividly anecdotal and thoroughly researched. Nicholas Basbanes brings an investigative reporter's heart to illuminate collectors past and present in their pursuit of bibliomania. Now a timeless classic of collecting, no lover of books can miss A Gentle Madness.

What people are saying

Dedicated bibliophiles and ardent book collectors will find "A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books" by Nicholas A. Basbanes to be a superbly crafted testament to what drives someone to prize books the ways others might esteem paintings, sculptures, fine wines, or precious gems. Originally published in 1995, this new edition for 2012 features a new preface by the author. A 678-page compendium organized into two main sections, enhanced with a section of illustrations, an epilogue, extensive notes, an extended bibliography, and a comprehensive index, "A Gentle Madness" is strongly recommended for community and academic library collections, and simply a great read for anyone who has every held their own passion for the world of the printed word. --Midwest Book Review

Some years ago I reviewed Nicholas A. Basbanes' A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books ($15.95, Fine Books Press, softcover). It was a bestselling book then and remains the most comprehensive book about the passion of book collecting. There is no one to rival Basbanes for his knowledge and I was happy to learn that a new, updated, definitive edition had been published. The research is self-evident, but it is the anecdotal elements that are entertaining as the author reviews the lives of some of the great collectors. It began with the 2,200 year-old Library of Alexandra, moves on to the dawn of Western printing in the Middle Ages, into the Renaissance, and now into the advances of twentieth-century collecting. I admit I am resisting reading books in their new electric formats. I like the feel of a book in my hands. If you do, then this book will provide endless hours of reading pleasure. --Bookviews by Alan Caruba

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