Gently Mad Blog
Entries From Nick

Biblioclasm in Mosul

When innocent people are being slaughtered by ISIS terrorists in the most savage and unspeakable of ways, it is easy... read more

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

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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

Library of Congress, National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest Winners Ceremony

Friday, Oct. 17, 4:30 p.m.,free and public

Madison Room

Batavia Public Library, New Lyceum Lecture Series

Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, 7 to 9 p.m., 10 S Batavia Ave, Batavia, IL 60510, free and public

Friends of the Lilly Library, Indiana University

Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, 5:30 p.m., 1200 East Seventh Street Bloomington, IN 47405

International Seminar on Innovative Traditional Korean Paper, Hanji, Keynote Address

Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, 9 a.m., Seoul, South Korea

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

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.

“Bibliophile Basbanes has written an exceptionally entertaining and comprehensive history of bibliomania, which turns out to be not so "gentle" an obsession after all. A tireless researcher, Basbanes relates the remarkable stories behind some of the world's most famous collections, from the legendary Alexandrian library to the libraries of Thomas Jefferson, the Folgers, and the Schomburg Collection. Basbanes also profiles an intriguing group of amateur collectors, including Carter Burden, a pioneer in the collecting of modern American writers, and Aaron Lansky, who almost single-handedly rescued Yiddish literature from landfills. The most enigmatic collector Basbanes portrays is Stephen Blumberg, whose notorious "Blumberg Collection" consisted of 23,600 rare books, all of them stolen from libraries. A surprising number of these stories involve nefarious dealings and vicious rivalries, proving that even in our digitized age, books arouse intense emotions, from worship to greed. Donna Seaman” —Booklist

“Anecdotes and insights on book collecting and appreciation make for a fine collection of stories on collecting. Authors, book authorities, builders of special collections, and biographical sketches of bibliophiles contribute to an excellent discourse on book passions and literary loves.” —Midwest Book Review

A Gentle Madness is chock-a-block with such strange and appealing characters, each more wonderful than the last. On nearly every page Basbanes neatly profiles similar dreams, dedication, and sometimes sheer biblio-lust. Nicholas A. Basbanes has compiled a wonderful gallery of eccentrics, isolatos, charmers and visionaries—an ingratiating and altogether enjoyable book.” —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World

A Gentle Madness is an impressive achievement in its compilation of vast information, as well as being instructive and interesting. It is compulsory for anyone seriously interested in books or curious about the manic nature of collecting.” —Philip Kopper, The New York Times Book Review

“A massive, comprehensive, and wonderfully readable history of book collecting and collectors.” —David Walton, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Obsessive book collecting remains the only hobby to have a disease named after it. This book is an adventure among the afflicted, beginning 2,500 years ago in Alexandria, when a commitment was made to gather all the world's knowledge beneath one roof, and moving on to profiles of living collectors and exclusive examinations of many great contemporary stories. Illustrations.” —Ingram

“What a delightful book about books and people who love books! As a second generation bibliophile, a possible bibliomane who had several people move out of my house a year ago because they erroneously believed that my books were taking over the household, and a devout employee of "Earth's Biggest Bookstore," I can vouch that Basbanes accurately describes the glorious role of book collectors as archivists of human knowledge, and—in continual counterpoint—sometimes pathologically obsessed book junkies.” —

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