Friday, October 22, 2010

What's That Smell--Bacon or a Book?

For the first time in months, I have a moment to breathe in the office. Granted, I have about ten things on my to-do list, but it's 4:15 on a Friday afternoon and I've been working my butt off all day. So, I'm giving myself ten minutes to surf the net.

And what did I happen on but something hilarious over at Richard Curtis's blog, E-Reads. I laughed-out-loud in my cubicle for about three minutes (that's very long in my world these days!).

Allow me to present you with one of Richard's oldies-but-goodies, "The Best of E-Reads: Aerosol Makes Your Nook Smell Like Crunchy Bacon":

From time to time we bring back some of the more popular articles and blogs posted on E-Reads. This one is from November 2009.
A while back we wrote up a book lover who said she was reluctant to buy a Kindle “unless Amazon comes out with a special ‘book scented’ Kindle.” (See If They Can Make the Kindle Smell Like a Book, Maybe She’ll Buy One). It was all kind of a joke, but an enterprising manufacturer took it seriously enough to produce a line of aromatics simulating book scents. The aromas include New Book Smell and Classic Musty. The product is trademarked as Smell of Books™ and here’s how their website describes it:

Does your Kindle leave you feeling like there’s something missing from your reading experience?

Have you been avoiding e-books because they just don’t smell right?

If you’ve been hesitant to jump on the e-book bandwagon, you’re not alone. Book lovers everywhere have resisted digital books because they still don’t compare to the experience of reading a good old fashioned paper book.

But all of that is changing thanks to Smell of Books™, a revolutionary new aerosol e-book enhancer.

Now you can finally enjoy reading e-books without giving up the smell you love so much. With Smell of Books™ you can have the best of both worlds, the convenience of an e-book and the smell of your favorite paper book. Smell of Books™ is compatible with a wide range of e-reading devices and e-book formats and is 100% DRM-compatible.

Whether you read your e-books on a Kindle or an iPhone using Stanza, Smell of Books™ will bring back that real book smell you miss so much.

Among the five smells offered is “Crunchy Bacon”. This is a welcome novelty for noses jaded by such natural book fragrances as grass, leather, printer’s ink, and decaying paper. Hopefully, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France will invest heavily in shpritzing their collections with Crunchy Bacon. Some other but lesser known aromas associated with books are baked lamb shank, General Cho’s Chicken, and asparagus vinaigrette.

On a more scientific note, Henry Fountain of the New York Times reports on research to quantify old-book odors to help librarians preserve books more effectively. Fountain describes how conservators “analyzed the volatiles produced by 72 samples of old paper of different types and in varying condition from the 19th and 20th centuries, using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. They found that some compounds were reliable markers for paper with certain characteristics — high concentrations of lignin or rosin, for example, which make paper degrade relatively quickly.”

Read the full article HERE

While this post obvious takles the topic in a humorous and silly way, there's certainly something to what's being discussed. What book-lover doesn't get a rush from that somewhat-musty old-book smell?

A favorite pastime of mine (I say pastime because I haven't had any time in the present or even recent past to do this!) is wandering around rare book stores. Not only do I love to look at the brittle pages, the cover stains, etc. but the smell of a book carries with it so much history. Experiencing even a little piece of that history is thrilling to me, even if it is just in a scent.

I have a small, but lovely, collection of rare books myself and sometimes it makes me feel better after a bad day just to look at them, to think about their pasts--who touched them before me, who read them, if the book was a gift to its original owner, what part of the country it was read in, etc. etc.

One of my personal favorites is a Robert Frost greeting card (not the one at this link but for some nice history!)--it's one of merely a couple hundred copies printed by Joe Blumenthal, Frost's dear friend and printer. Normally, it wouldn't be all that exciting--it's just a greeting card. But this one was unique--inside the little card-book was a folded note from Blumenthal himself to the card's recipient, letting him know that Robert Frost dropped off his manuscript that day.

I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty damn cool.

And it smells too.

Not bad, just chock full of history.

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