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Confessions of a Biblioholic

Newer readers may be wondering what I mean when I drop occasional mentions of my biblioholism. Allow me to elaborate. But before you start with the ridicule, know that I am aware I am opening myself up to it by doing this. So, if you insist on poking fun, exceed my expectations, will ya’, and make it really funny. As defined by me.

I regularly visit used bookstores. They are the best places to browse out-of-print science fiction and fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, Houston has an inordinate number of them. It used to be just me but in the past couple of years, the family has taken a shining to it. (Red Rum!)

My collection already contains more books than I could possibly read in my lifetime unless I was, say, augmented with Klausner-like nanotech, which has yet to be invented (sadly). I am honestly not bragging here – this behavior is illogical and, some would say, on the wrong side of sane. I think the affliction is the result of growing up in Long Island which is essentially a 100-mile-long strip mall. (Note to self: add “strip mall’ to list of phrases that make me giggle.)

I was doing well for a while. I think I went three whole weeks without stepping foot inside a bookstore. My recent visit to the awesome Borderlands Bookstore in San Francisco put the kibosh on that dry spell. I dare anyone with even a remote fondness for science fiction to step into that store without wanting to walk out with oodles and caboodles of crunchy, sf goodness. I couldn’t do it.

Anywho, in recent weeks, I found some good (to me) treasures that, while they are things I wanted, were not really things I needed. These titles fall into distinct categories. (Like Jeff from Gravity Lens once said, sf fans love to categorize.)


Gotta love the omnibus. Two or three books in one. Sometimes more! The Science Fiction Book Club publishes lots of em’, much to my biblioholic chagrin. Recent acquisitions:

  • Robots and Murder* by Isaac Asimov
  • Succession* by Scott Westerfeld
  • Confluence* by Paul McAuley
  • Evergence* by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
  • Geodesica* by Sean Williams and Shane Dix


I am not a scholar of science fiction, just an enthusiastic fan. In addition to reading sf, I like reading about sf. Recent acquisitions:


Who doesn’t like a spontaneous treat? The biblioholic will take Unnecessary Books for $100, Alex.

  • Diamond Dogs and Turquoise Days* – There was absolutely no reason I wanted this other than (1) they were two awesome stories, and (2) the pretty U.S. mini-hardback is an upgrade from my paperback overstock U.K. version. This one was a tough call but I justified it by calling it a “treat”. This is what biblioholics do; a book becomes a treat like a good meal or night at the movies.

So here’s where the biblioholism comes in…

Those books denoted by an *asterisk* are books I already own in one form or another. You will notice that this includes all but one of them. That’s a sign of biblioholism; the repeat purchases outnumber the new purchases. My justification for getting these was basically bang for the buck; 2 or 3 books for less than the price of a new mass-market paperback. It matters not that I am spending money on something I already own. Logic goes out the window faster than book money flies out of my wallet.

In the case of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, this latest one is my fifth copy. Here’s how that went. (As if I could ever justify this purchase.) I bought the first one (in paperback) at a discount. Then I stumbled on a hardback copy for an even better discount. I figured I could keep one in another part of the house as if they needed to be within reach heaven forbid some unforeseen sf emergency occurred. The third one (another paperback) was even cheaper and there was an empty spot on my desk at work waiting (nay…yearning) to be filled. It was filled up nicely, too, until someone [looks at JP] decided it would look better on his own desk. I figured I might as well share the wealth. But that, of course, left the aforementioned empty spot on my desk again which, in turn, provided a reason to pick up copy #4 (another bargain paperback version) and fulfill the original but artificial need of having a copy at work. (You just never know when the fate of the world depends on a critical overview of the career of Lionel Fanthorpe.) As fate would have it, this recent 5th copy was only two-and-a-half bucks. How – how, I ask you – could I pass that up?

I think I’ll keep this one in the car.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

8 Comments on Confessions of a Biblioholic

  1. Far be it from me to take issue with your bibliholism. How else can I get books to read for free (and not have to go to the library)? Not to mention that sweet SF encyclopedia!

  2. What’s the opposite of biblioholism? I went to Pheonix, stopped in a Half-Price Books there and bought two books (Evolution and Castleview.) I read them there, then left them behind when I returned from my trip. Intentionally left them behind.

    I don’t want to own books after I’ve read them. Most of them are only good once and the rare ones I’d like to read twice are usually lost well before that time comes up.

    Most of all, I dislike the hardback book – it’s heavy, too permanent to disrespect (ie spill soda on them by the pool), generally too large, and difficult to fit into a carry-on bag.

    That’s one of the reason I gave several boxes of books to John ;).

  3. Have no shame about your biblioholism, though I prefer the old fashioned term, bibliomania. I used to say to those who would question it, “would you rather I be addicted to drugs or to reading books.” It’s nice to see others with the same problem, perhaps we should form a support group (so I can borrow some books). I have also been known to buy a copy of the same book I own if has a new cool cover or I conveniently forgot that I had it.

    Borderlands in San Fransisco is certainly a dangerous place for bibliomaniacs. I couldn’t walk away with less than a pile of books and Cory Doctorow’s autograph. But just as good are used bookstores, where I often buy a shelfful (say 1972 to 1990) of science fiction anthologies if they are available.

  4. “…perhaps we should form a support group (so I can borrow some books).” That’s funny!

    I like the idea of justifying an addiction by the absence of an even worse addiction. It almost takes away some of the guilt. 🙂

  5. I’m with you there. Bibliomania is not so bad though. It is better than other addictions, and I’ll tell you why.

    I used to drink a lot. I used to spend $40-60 every couple days on beer and liquor. That’s a lot of books! Then I realized instead of punishing myself by killing brain cells, I could punish myself by *creating brain cells* – what novel idea. 😉

    I have curbed the book addiction in the last year. One thing that helps is to spend time with all the books you’ve bought. Go sit among the stacks and rows of them, and look at all the ones you haven’t read, and know that you will have trouble finding time to read them all. You will feel a little less anxious to go out and buy more.

    And if you continue to go out and buy more, then just know that you are a book collector, and that maybe your intention is to never read them all, but just to feel good about having them.

    It’s like food, alchohol, drugs, or any other ‘comfort’ – you buy it because it makes you feel good. Until you need another fix.

  6. Do we really equate book buying (even this odd form) with alcohol or drug addiction? I guess buying a book can trigger the brain to release good chemicals, uh, maybe?

  7. Scotts right. The brain is filled with bibliochlorians. [Looks at Lucas :O]

  8. Radwa Elshami // April 16, 2010 at 11:57 am //

    I’m writing an article on Biblioholism and I got to define the signs correctly on my own from my personal experience as a book addict. The problem is that I need to wind up with some solutions but I don’t know how to and I have no access to the book “Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction.” Could someone help me with key factors to recovering from or just curbing that. I am beyond the deadline for the article and would be really glad if you could provide me some tips.


    A fellow book addict

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