‘Actually, it’s wrong to call him a nerd. There’s nothing wrong with nerds. At least they have a passion for something, whether it’s stamps or aeroplanes or computers – and that’s cool. Your … acquaintances, Lee, was a nerd-wannabe. A guy who may have worked with computers, but didn’t have the abilities or the stamina to be a real nerd, though he did try to hang out with them by using the right buzzwords and references.’ He cleared his throat. ‘Lots of people think that nerds are losers, but the real losers ar the wannabes, the pretenders, who think they can cheat their way to respect – very uncool.
For a long time John had thought a nerd was merely someone who spent all his time at a computer – someone who was scruffy and ate pizza and drank Coke and had problems with the opposite sex. For him there was no measure of quality, other than that a nerd could do more than start up a word processing programm. it was only lately that ‘nerd’ had increasingly replaced terms like ‘eccentric’ or ‘fanatic’ to express the fascination and mania that infected even stamp collectors. In that sense, Luca and the cumstomers who came to Libri di Luca could be called ‘book nerds’, though they would undoubtedly prefer ‘bibliophiles’.
Birkegaard, Mikkel. The Library of Shadows. London: Black Swan, 2009. 978-0-552-77502-1.