Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why Old Books Smell: Does It Matter?

I am definitely a fan of the "old-book smell," I'm not going to lie. I love going into used/rare bookstores and just breathing it in. There's something so calming about it for me--I guess, in a way, it takes me back to a time when things were simpler, where there weren't so many choices to be made to simply read a book, when life was just less busy.

And yes, this "smell" is one of the reasons I prefer print books to eBooks. I am one of the people that GalleyCat blogger Dianna Dilworth speaks of in her April 20th post about the topic. And I am perfectly okay with that.

It honestly doesn't matter to me that the smell of an old book is just matter deteriorating; smell is the most memorable sense and that is what it's all about.

But for those of you who are interested in learning more about why old books really smell, here's the GalleyCat post and an interesting (and somewhat amusing) video from Abe Books:

Many people use the excuse that they love the smell of an old book to describe why they prefer print books to eBooks. Abe Books helps explain the science behind the smell of old books in the above video.

In the video, Richard from Abe Books says, “A physical book is made up of organic matter that reacts with heat, light, moisture, and most importantly of all, the chemicals used in its production. And it is this unique reaction that causes the unique used books smell.”

Here is more from Abe Books’s YouTube post: “Chemists at University College, London have investigated the old book odor and concluded that old books release hundreds of volatile organic compounds into the air from the paper. The lead scientist described the smell as ‘A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness.’”
See the post HERE

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