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

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.

Carnegie Medal Finalist

On Paper paperback edition
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On Paper paperback edition
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This past May On Paper was named one of three finalists for the 2014 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction by the American Library Association. (First prize ultimately went to Doris Kearns Goodwin for The Bully Pulpit; the runners-up were myself, and Sheri Fink, for Five Days at Memorial.) In its announcement, the ALA cited On Paper thusly: “Combining crisp technical explanations with vivid historical and contemporary profiles, Basbanes unfolds the two-thousand-year story of paper, revealing in the process that paper is nothing less than an embodiment of humanity.” Read More On Paper was also named a Best Book of the Year for 2013 by Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bloomberg News, Mother Jones, and the National Post of Canada. Hardcover and paperback copies are available in bookstores everywhere, and from any of these online vendors.

On Paper Reviews

"Buoyant, encyclopedic ... Celebrates paper in all its forms." - The New Yorker

"Every facet of this celebration of paper is engrossing and thought-provoking ... Paper, Basbanes avers, is nothing less than an embodiment and conveyance of humanity."  - Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review) (A Best Book of the Year)

"An absolutely fascinating tale" An engrossing, essential book that no book lover should be without." - Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)

Also by Nicholas Basbanes

The Definitive Edition

About the Author
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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.

"[Basbanes is] our top writerly bibliophile [and now also] a philosopher of paper ... [He is] a power hitter whose grand slam brings home other recent appreciators of paper [and] provides the sweep of information that makes breaking down the 'Whither Paper' question clear and necessary." - Carlin Romano, The Chronicle of Higher Education

"A delightful and intrepid guide in this capacious history of paper. A lively tale told with wit and vigor." - Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) (A Best Book of the Year)

"Pretty much irresistible." - Library Journal (Starred Review) (A Best Book of the Year)

"I will confess to being an enormous Basbanes fan, but this volume may well be his best." - Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg News (A Best Book of the Year)

"Fascinating. Reminds us that bound up in the most mundane of objects, there is the potential for the deepest of human expression." - Mother Jones (A Best Book of the Year)

"Nicholas Basbanes is something of a national treasure, bringing what is often called 'book culture' in front of us. In an age of the digital page, when books can be downloaded, when e-mail and twitter are developing a distinctive lexicon and rhetoric, when the book itself seems to be on its way out of our private and public culture, Basbanes returns us, again and again, to the importance of paper, as we knew it, know it, and, hopefully, shall maintain it."  - Lewis Fried, The Key Reporter (The Phi Beta Kappa Society)

"[Basbanes] has poured his heart and soul into this splendid survey of a beautiful human invention." - Philip Marchand, National Post (Canada) (A Best Book of the Year)

"Basbanes demonstrates prowess as a perceptive, comprehensive researcher who combines instincts as a seasoned investigative journalist with a knack for spinning a yarn, using appropriately understated first-person narrative that highlights the subject and not the author. In fact, Basbanes utilizes a unique version of 'saturation reporting,' the phrase coined by Tom Wolfe in 1970 to describe a type of new journalism practiced by a vanguard whose identifying characteristic was total immersion in the subject. Basbanes plunges into the multifaceted idea of paper, his adventurous inquiry so extensive (the bibliography lists 196 books) that readers indeed can be sure they are getting 'the everything' he promises." - William F. Meehan III, Information & Culture: A Journal of History

"Nicholas Basbanes is an especially congenial writer, a quality he displayed memorably in A Gentle Madness, his 1995 history of book collecting and collectors. He does it again most pleasurably in On Paper, a wide-ranging investigation into the 'everything' of that ubiquitous and indispensable construction of cellulose fibers whose history paralleled--and made possible--the rise of civilization."  - David Walton, The Dallas Morning News

"On Paper concludes with an elegant chapter titled 'Elegy in Fragments,' about Sept. 11, 2001. In a grim contrast to ticker-tape parades, Basbanes writes, 'paper rain' fell after the attack on the World Trade Center. The tattered sheets bore witness to the ordinary and extraordinary lives of the victims, writ small and large in deposit slips, legal memoranda, and a call for help from a man on the 84th floor. And to the place of paper as 'artifacts of consequence.'" - Glenn C. Altschuler, Tulsa World

" ... paper remains in robust health. One reason is that it combines apparently irreconcilable properties--durability (it outlasts papyrus and floppy disks alike), portability (a precondition of modern postal systems) and foldability (one of Nicholas A. Basbanes's most engrossing chapters concerns origami). That trio allowed it to displace other writing surfaces that were fragile, unwieldy or both: clay, stone, papyrus, parchment, metal, bark, bones and even seashells." - Leah Price, Times Literary Supplement

"On Paper represents a new contribution to an ongoing dialogue about the future of reading and print ... Basbanes is more optimistic about the future of paper, in part because he has so thoroughly explored its past. As [his] book shows, paper, that most remarkable technology, has always been the most effective medium for capturing what is both practical and passionate about being human." - Christine Rosen, The Wilson Quarterly

"Nicholas A. Basbanes, 'a self-confessed bibliophiliac' (the term roughly translates as someone who loves, loves, really loves books), has made a later-life career of exploring the worlds of fellow book-obsessed souls and in the process has mapped a fascinating, little-discussed corner of cultural history. His first book, published when he was 52, was the surprise bestseller A Gentle Madness (1995), an illuminating, often amusing look at book collectors. His previous book, About the Author (2010), explored the creative process of writers. Now he turns his attention to the medium that enables his bibliophilia to flourish: paper." - Alden Mudge, BookPage

"natty, bright, and good-humored. Paper as an art form and paper as history are glories--there are terrific chapters on origami and its votaries, the story of rag to paper pulp to feed the needs of American colonists to behave seditiously in their newspapers, and how Islamic countries forsook the printing press out of reverence to calligraphy" - Peter Lewis, Barnes & Noble Review

"Beyond the fascinating history the author is drawn to the idea of paper, for it is a marvel of both medium and message, a tool both flexible and functional. A lover of the printed word will surely choose to read On Paper in a print edition, although a digital edition is available. Here's guessing that an ebook will likely leave you longing for the feel of paper as you read this remarkable story." - Helen Gallagher, New York Journal of Books

"Why is it that the field of papermaking has attracted so many memorable characters? Or maybe Nick Basbanes has just had a knack of discovering so many of the most colorful of them." - Martin A. Hubbe, BioResources

"Well known for his love of books and his scholarship in the area of book culture, Basbanes in his most recent work, On Paper, gives us a consummate look at the pages of books as well as reminds us of the myriad other uses paper continues to serve, even in a modern world that some have forecast to be a 'paperless society.'" - Lois Carr, The Wichita Eagle

"To his credit, and that of his publisher, Nicholas A. Basbanes put an honest subtitle to his newest work, On Paper. It is indeed 'The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History.' A prodigious and endlessly fascinating tome ... can be read either as a single work or nibbled on over time like a Whitman's Sampler. Even if Basbanes were not the accomplished writer of books on books that he is, this new work could sustain itself on the endless parade of conversation-starter tidbits." - James McGrath Morris, Santa Fe New Mexican

"With an accomplished background in investigative journalism, Basbanes deftly splices together countless disparate topics. Along the way readers come to know how cellulose relates to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and the crucial role paper played in the hands of top CIA exfiltrator Tony Mendez whose 'audacious plan' would eventually prompt the movie Argo. Less esoteric but just as fascinating are the chapters on the quotidian uses of paper. These facts and figures astound readers but the strength of On Paper lies in the author's ability to analyze this information and show the importance of paper to humanity. [It is] a joy to read, perhaps owing to the enthusiastic tone in which it is written. He has generously transformed his eight years of painstaking research into an entertaining book sure to gratify anyone curious about paper." - Akemi Martin, Hand Papermaking (Summer 2014)