From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Bibliophilia is the love of books. Accordingly a bibliophile loves books, but especially "for qualities of format". A bookworm loves books for their content, or otherwise loves reading in general. Bibliophilia is generally considered to be incorrect, but some would say it is a new, recent, usage. That practice of loving or collecting books is dubbed bibliophilism, and the adjective form of the term is bibliophilic. Also, a bibliophile may be a book collector.
The term entered the English language in 1824, according to the Merriam-Webster's reference below. It is to be distinguished from the much older notion of a bookman (which dates back to 1583), which is one who loves books, and especially reading; more generally, a bookman is one who participates in writing, publishing, or selling books.
The classic bibliophile, exemplified by Samuel Pepys, is one who loves to read, admire and collect books, often nurturing a large and specialised collection. Bibliophiles do not necessarily want to possess the books they love; an alternative would be to admire them in old libraries. However, the bibliophile is usually an avid book collector, sometimes pursuing scholarship in the collection, sometimes putting form above content with an emphasis on old, rare, and expensive books, first editions, books with special or unusual bindings, autographed copies, etc.
Bibliophilia is not to be confused with bibliomania, an obsessive-compulsive disorder involving the collecting of books to the point where social relations or health are damaged, and in which the mere fact that an object is a book is sufficient for it to be collected or loved. Most bibliomaniacs, then, are compulsive hoarders, identifiable by the fact that the number of unread books in their possession is continually increasing relative to the total number of books they possess and read. Extreme bibliophilia may amount to a diagnosed psychological condition.
- Antiquarian book trade in the United States
- Book collecting
- Caxton Club
- The Club of Odd Volumes
- Grolier Club
- Oxford University Society of Bibliophiles