A book is a store of knowledge, experience and emotion. It is no surprise that people have been collecting books since way back in ancient China thousands of years ago. Personal collections have flourished through the ages, but with the advent of organised governments a governmental role was taken to collect books and save them from obscurity or extinction. These days the largest book collections are within the boundaries of national library services. The largest book collection in the world is that of the British Library which numbers over 170 million titles with the Library of Congress a close second with upwards of 162 million and most nation states around the world have similar services.
A collector of books is called a bibliophile, a lover of books, and most collect their favorite reading material or antiquarian books with a rarity value. It was not always the case. In England during the mid 16th century during the dissolution of the monasteries many ancient books were destroyed so some of those that were able took to collecting to save them for future generations. Famous modern book collectors include Ian Flemming, Keith Richards and Oprah Winfrey.
With the advent of modern technology a new form of book collecting has arisen, that of the virtual collection, surely due to become the largest book collection of all given the ease with which a book can be digitally downloaded and stored without the space needed for a proper library. It seems that the appetite to collect books is only gaining momentum, despite the alternative distractions.
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