When looking at an old book, what’s one of the first things that you notice? Is it the binding? The pages? The font? Those are all very important aspects of a book, but for a lot of individuals, the smell of a text is one of the most memorable. What causes this unique smell? According to the head of the Laboratory for Cultural Heritage at the University Library of Slovenia, each book has a complex smell based on the materials within the book. The main component that influences smell is the type of paper used and how that paper reacts to the elements. Most deteriorating books release about one hundred various scents from their paper, especially when a book shows foxing or browning. For example, my novel of interest, “To Have and To Hold,” was printed in 1900 and exhibits an old, musty smell. This is due to the acidic pages, which cause decay and the old book smell. In addition, lignin plays a role in adding a slight vanilla scent. A more in depth explanation of this process can be found here and in the video below.
In today’s society, printed paper texts are slowly losing interest, while sales for Kindles, iPads, and other digital technology are booming. From 2009-2010, mass market paperback sales declined 13%, but E-book sales were on track to spike 250% in that one year period. With this new technology and declining interest in paper texts, what alternatives are there for individuals that adore the aforementioned “old book smell”?
#1: Paper Passion Perfume
A perfume created by Gerhard Steidl is marketed towards book lovers and has been quite successful. The perfume is currently sold out after being mentioned in a Huffington Post article. The perfume contains five ingredients, which was done to mirror the simplistic old book smell. Retail price for this perfume is $98.00.
#2: Aerosol E-Book Enhancer
This particular aerosol spray is intended to supplement digital e-book usage. Kindles and iPads are gaining popularity, but lack the smell that accompanies paper text. By spraying Smell of Books onto your e-book reader, you can have the best of both worlds! It’s safe to use with all devices and can be purchased for $28.99. Smells include the New Book Smell, Classic Musty Smell, Scent of Sensibility, and Eau You Have Cats.
#3: Library Candles
#4: New Book Smell Car Freshener