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Do you smell your books?

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Apr 4, 2007, 9:33am Top

OK, I don't want to admit to it but I'm reading a book with a particularly lovely book smell. Every so often I hold my nose close to the pages and inhale. Am I a weirdo?
Also, have you ever caught a whiff of a book and it has reminded you of a previous book? I have.

Apr 4, 2007, 9:37am Top

I love getting books from our local herbal and Pagan shops. They always smell of incense.

Apr 4, 2007, 9:41am Top

I occassionally smell the book I am reading, particularly if it is at least 5 years old as these tend to have more of that book smell. With all of the scented candles and oils and whatnot that are sold, I would love if someone made one that smelled like old books. It's one reason I love used bookstores.

Apr 4, 2007, 10:44am Top

I smell just about everything I come into contact with, (and yes, I know just how weird that is), including books. There are so many lovely smells in the world, and I don't want to miss out on any of them.

Apr 4, 2007, 10:46am Top

I do, I do! I also pause when I walk into a bookstore, just to savor the aroma.

Then again, I like the smell of hardware stores, gas stations, and lumber yards. Maybe I am a weirdo!

Apr 4, 2007, 10:52am Top

I buy antique books *specifically* because I love old book smell. So are people who smell books weirdos? I plead the 5th :-)

Apr 4, 2007, 10:53am Top

I love lumber yards!

Bookstores, too! :)

Apr 4, 2007, 11:09am Top


I know what you mean! We don't have many (or any, that I know of) of those shops here, so my mom sends me some from Vegas occasionally. They always smell amazing, and the scent seems to stick to the books forever. Sometimes it's more fun smelling them than reading them.

Apr 4, 2007, 11:30am Top

Yes! I love the smell of books. Old books and musty ink is the best, but new books and that 'fresh from the press' smell is great too. When I was little I had a copy of ladybird's version of the little red hen, and it had a wonderful scent. Slightly of the red floor polish we used to polish our floor with, slightly sweet too, and of something I've never come across before since then. Mmm it was great, I loved the picture of the wheat and the bread, it went so well with the smell. I'd nearly forgotten about it till I came upon this discussion, too!

Edited: Apr 4, 2007, 11:39am Top

So I decided to see if anyone had created any old book scented items.


Apr 4, 2007, 11:44am Top

One of the reasons listening to books on my iPod is never going to be as good as reading them. Reading is a total sensory experience for me. (I usually have a snack to hand. And sometimes a baseball game going in the background.)

Apr 4, 2007, 12:22pm Top

I do! And I particularly love that peculiar aroma you only smell in used/antique bookstores.....heavenly!!!!!!!!

Apr 4, 2007, 12:39pm Top

That's why I loved going to my grandparent's apartment. It didn't have that "old people smell" children usually don't like, but it smelled like old books everywhere as my grandfather had countless books in every room (I am guessing something around 50,000). I later learned that those weren't even all his books, he had to get rid of more than half of them when they moved out of their house.

And yes, I do smell my books as well, be they new or old. Thank God I can work without smelling the books that pass through my hands every day. That would be embarrassing...

Apr 4, 2007, 12:40pm Top

I'm with bookishbunny--lumberyards and bookstores are two of my favorite smells.

The smell of some books takes me right back to the first time I read that book. I love when that happens!

Also, I'm glad all of you smell your books. My husband thinks I am quite odd for smelling them.

Apr 4, 2007, 1:06pm Top

I love the smell of a new book! As for the old ones, I try to avoid smelling them unless I'm adding them to my BookMooch inventory. I actually list a book's smell as part of its condition. Now how's that for weird?

Apr 4, 2007, 1:13pm Top

oh yea, I'm a proud book sniffer! everytime I finish reading a chapter I fan the pages in my face for i can smell it lol.

Apr 4, 2007, 1:20pm Top

To paraphrase.... I love the smell of old books in the morning!

I have this (my wife calls it annoying) tendency of smelling just about everything I come in contact with. And, yes, I am even guilty of taking a whiff of my 1150 eBook device every now and then. When the new bookcases arrived, the house was filled with the aroma of the wood finish.

Smelling, for me is a survival technique. I've got some severe (and odd) food allergies -- peppers, onions, garlic, tanic acid, alcohol, to name a few. I never eat anything offered without asking what the ingredients are because the consequences are getting more critical as I get older. So, I smell ~everything~!

18myextras First Message
Apr 4, 2007, 5:29pm Top

Recently a new branch of a public library opened (new building construction) and the first time I went through the door I stopped in the foyer....transported back in time to the bookmobile that stopped in our town parking lot during my childhood some 40 mumble mumble years ago. That brand new library smelled just like that bookmobile! I was sure they had sprayed that book smell everywhere to cover the smell of new construction!! How did they do that? :-)

My grandfather was a printer and I grew up with the smell of ink and paper and solvents. I was secretary to a minister who had an extensive library and occasionally we would take especially fragrant old and newer volumes off the shelves and sniff away....heavenly!

I am glad to know there are others like me. People already think I am crazy to have so many books. I don't usually confess to smelling them as well as reading them :-) Some of my favorites to sniff are the Junior Classics volumes that came with our 50s era Colliers encyclopedia.

Apr 4, 2007, 7:59pm Top

Another book sniffer here.

And remember the smell of "math" paper and the manila drawing paper (the sixties, I don't know if they still use it...), or the smell of a freshly mimeographed (purple) copy?

Apr 4, 2007, 8:23pm Top

I hadn't thought much about book smells until I started buying from ebay. Sometimes the books have no smell that I notice, sometimes they smell of cigarettes, and sometimes mildew. I live in Arizona so the mildewy smell goes away as the books dry (and any other odor disipates(sp?) over time).

Apr 4, 2007, 8:35pm Top

Over time, the compromise of buying a mass market paperback smells. The cheaper paper has the odor of vinegar as it breaks down. Sometimes enough to make my eyes water.

Edited: Apr 5, 2007, 6:45am Top

#18 - Paper that has matured since the 50's has a special smell... I've got some volumes printed on pulp (mass market paperbacks) back then and they smell wonderful.
Mine has matured in a box stored in a cellar (by my father, who originally bought the books), maybe that has something to do with it? But I want to think it's the paper...

(#21 - The books mentioned above has a sweet smell, not vinegary at all...)

Edited: Apr 6, 2007, 9:15am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Apr 5, 2007, 11:43am Top

My sister has actually buys her books based off of "smell". Whenever I get a book from her on a birthday or Christmas she will say, "I know it will be good from the smell of it!" Ha ha. So you're not alone.

Apr 5, 2007, 12:48pm Top

Old books/hardbacks are much better than newer paperbacks. The old vintages...

I'm also into mimeograph paper and leather. I worked in a leather bag factory once...it was heaven just to go into the storeroom and have a huff.

Apr 5, 2007, 4:42pm Top

I'd like to think we're book sniffer connoisseurs...I always compare it with wine tasting. As you all know, its really an art. Personally, I prefer the pre-1940s yellowing paper smell on hardbacks (Some oddly enough still don't have a smell..what's up with that?). But what is also good is the shiny, glossy paper (used most often by science books, I've discovered), I love the way it sounds as you rub the paper between your fingers. New magazines are also pretty addictive, depending on the magazine of course.

I also go into used books stores or even new books stores and take a big whiff. There's nothing like the surrounding smell of aging books. Just thinking about it makes me all happy and fuzzy inside. :)

Apr 6, 2007, 10:04am Top

My favorite scenes in The Name of the Rose are in the Library and Scriptorium. Just imagining being surrounded by thousands of books - hand copied and illustrated, no less - makes me swoon. The smell of the mouldering parchment must have been overwhelming.

Apr 6, 2007, 11:22am Top

Yes, absolutely. I love the smell of old books and used bookstores. A curious thing I've noticed is that old American books have a different odor from old books that came from Britain and spent most of their lives there - or maybe I'm just imagining it.

I like the idea of a "used bookstore" scented candle! And I completely agree on lumberyards and old purple mimeos - I think the machines for these were called "spirit duplicators." Way back in school, I used to sniff quizzes and handouts that were fresh off the duplicator. That's a smell which is pretty much extinct now.

Here's a quote I ran across recently you might like: "Oh, delightful! To cut open the leaves, to inhale the fragrance of the scarcely dry paper, to examine the type to see who is the printer (which is some clue to the value that is set upon the work), to launch out into regions of thought and invention never trod till now, and to explore characters that never met a human eye before -- this is a luxury worth sacrificing a dinner-party, or a few hours of a spare morning to." William Hazlitt

Apr 6, 2007, 1:49pm Top

>MaggieO, I suspect in your home there is no escaping the book aromas!

Apr 6, 2007, 4:54pm Top

>avaland - Probably - I'm used to it, so don't notice. I guess I wouldn't have much need for a used bookshop scented candle!

Apr 6, 2007, 5:27pm Top

You're not weird, I'm embarassed to say I like the smell of gas stations to.lol. And that fresh cut wood smell..smells divine! Fresh cut grass and mulch smells good too.

But, I love the smell of a bookstore, especially new books, I love new book smells. When I'm reading, every now and then I'll pause to smell my book.lol. Of course, if I'm in public I sneak a look around me to make sure no one is looking before I do this.lol.

Apr 6, 2007, 5:48pm Top

#28 MaggieO...your quote reminds me of various period films i've seen where the reader holds a page cutter in hand to split the pages as she/he reads. Very cool. (Gee, I wonder if EBAY sells victorian page cutters?)

Anyway, I've read everybodys posts here and share, without a doubt, the same passion/quark(?) - even down to the mimeographs!!

Apr 6, 2007, 7:47pm Top

Mimeos -- the smell is alcohol, if you weren't aware. I was part of the AV crew in high school, and had access to the only mimeo machine in the building. I've had to refill the tank on that thing many a time, and it surely is a sweet aroma. It isn't the kind you can drink, I'm told. I never tried to find out -- my body doesn't react well to alcohol, in any form, except topically.

Jul 10, 2007, 7:47am Top

I had no idea so many people smelled their books! I constantly fan the pages as I read! My fiance' always asks "Is that a good one?" - meaning the scent. Then he asks if it is a good read. Middlesex was my best smelling recent read. It has many thin pages and smelled terrific!

Edited: Jul 10, 2007, 8:19am Top

I prefer books with no scent, although I don't mind the smell of brand-new books.

I recently purchased a paperback on eBay. It was advertised as 'new' but turned out to be ex-book exchange (hmmm...!). The book appeared unread but there was significant amount of yellowing along the top edge. So I did my usual trick - spray some nice perfume on a couple of sheets of paper towel, wrap them around the book and seal the whole thing in a plastic bag. Leave it for at least a week, after which, voila! a lovely, scented book :) (I did the same trick with a book my mother sent me which smelt of dog fur and stale cigarettes).

Edited: Jul 11, 2007, 3:00am Top

Constantly dude! I laughed really hard at this topic 'cause I thought I was the only one who did it; but I see I'm not... I LOVE to smell my books, it's part of reading it, don't you think? And I am reminded of other books by their particular smell: isn't that weird?

37bookworm33 First Message
Jul 15, 2007, 10:18pm Top

I smell a book if it's from a second hand store, or if I got it from e-bay, or if I brought it brand new from the bookstore. It's part of my experience in the book, so if you got it second hand, you can try and figure out where it's been. And no, I don't think it's weird.

Jul 15, 2007, 10:33pm Top

(Sadly?) I have absolutely no sense of smell. Never have. I've been reading this thread to try to get an intellectual understanding of the concept of smelling (books). I find your posts fascinating.

Jul 16, 2007, 4:43pm Top

monohex: that's soooo sad :( I wish you could smell a book: it's fascinating. It can bring back memories, send you places, make you remember someone or just plainly enjoy the smell.. I wish I could share it with you.
PS I also smell magazines :)

Jul 16, 2007, 6:13pm Top

I buy lots of used books, so I'm accustomed to strange smells wafting from the pages. Doesn't bother me, but (like Clinton) um, I don't inhale.

The stinkiest books come from "stacks."

Jul 17, 2007, 4:33pm Top

I was recently on a business trip with a co-worker. We passed a closed bookstore on the way to dinner one night, and pressed our faces up to the door to see inside. It was one of those places with overflowing shelves, piles upon piles on the floor...and then we caught a whiff. "Ahhhhh, that smell," we sighed in unison.

Jul 18, 2007, 5:15am Top

YES!! I love the smell of books, both old and new. Both are comfort smells and remind me of my happiest reading days. =D

Sep 20, 2007, 8:56am Top

#39: I LOVE the smell of new magazines!!!

Sep 20, 2007, 9:07am Top

New books, old books, used bookstores, lumberyards...all have such wonderful connotations for me. I too sniff.

I also like the FEEL of the paper. I always run my fingers over the pages, and revel in the feeling. For some reason I really like the feel of the WWII era paper. (They were rationing, or something. Anyway it feels different.)

Sep 20, 2007, 9:10am Top

>43 agentrv007:: You'd be in heaven where I work. We get between 150-250 magazines every day. We all despise unpacking and cataloguing the ones from India though. I don't know what they do with them, but they stink and are always covered with some kind of dirty dust...

In general I love the smell of everything printed though.

Sep 20, 2007, 9:26am Top

The smell of books both old and new is a sensual experience not to be missed. The spicey musky smell of an old book or the sharp inky smell of a new one can be near intoxicating. The feel of a printed page maybe slick and silky, soft and fuzzy, cold and smooth, rough and heavy, light and fragile like onion skin, or many other tactile sensations can give me goosebumps... (mmmmm.... Books.)

Sep 20, 2007, 10:33am Top

Old books smell wonderful. Sometimes I step into a 2nd-hand bookshop and know instantly from the smell that it's going to be a good one even if I don't end up buying anything. So far I've only actually tagged one book for its smell, but there may be more.

Sep 20, 2007, 11:10am Top

Oh, yes. I often smell my books. I love the smell of new books, fresh ink and paper, and old books too. I can't stand it when a books smells like cigarettes! On occasion a book has had such a particular smell it reminded me of another one I read before (maybe from the same publisher?) and it bothered me until I figured it out! My husband thinks I'm strange for smelling my books, but he's not a book person!

Sep 20, 2007, 11:38am Top

I smell my books, and sometimes I smell other people's too.

Sep 20, 2007, 8:40pm Top

If crack smelled like used books, I'd probably be a crack addict. Seriously.

The worst are new textbook-type books. They often smell terrible.

Sep 20, 2007, 11:34pm Top

I used to think that British and American new books smelled differently: different paper and ink? I'm not so sure now.

Sep 21, 2007, 9:48am Top

I loveee the smell of books old and new.. ohh and I think they all feel different too...my friends crack up when I say feel how soft that hardcover is!!!Only a true book lover knows what that means.

Edited: Sep 23, 2007, 11:53am Top

A teacher at my old secondary school is quite enthusiastic about praising the delights of smelling book spines, to the point of demonstrating it in assembly once. If I recall correctly he favours brand new books.

Sep 23, 2007, 10:23am Top

But........of course !

Doesn't everyone ;>)

Sep 24, 2007, 10:18pm Top

>54 faceinbook: faceinbook

Not everyone DOES, but everyone SHOULD. But then we wouldn't be an elite group of awesomeness any more!
Your username says it all, really. Quite literally.

Sep 27, 2007, 1:48pm Top

Oh yes I smell my books--not only do I love the smell but I love the feel as well.

Oct 13, 2007, 2:09am Top

I always smell my books, but the main reason is to avoid the musty smell, is it mildew? It gives me an extreme headache. I will buy even the rattiest looking book, with a broken binding, but I will not buy one with a mildewed smell.

I do love the smell of paper and ink. On the rare occaision that I buy a brand new book, I feel embarassed because I often cannot resist sniffing in public.

Oct 13, 2007, 2:46pm Top

I just got a book on Bookmooch from Italy that had the most gorgeous aroma of herbs... just lovely! Made me imagine the gorgeous food being served in that home....

Oct 14, 2007, 4:05pm Top

The posts regarding the scents left by former owners, such as herbs and incense, made me think of how books can not only allow communication with the author, but also, the prior owner of the book.

I am a docent in a Chinese Garden, and the Scholar's Study has a poetic name of "The Celestial Hall of Permeating Fragrance." Camphor wood was used in the construction of this building (as well other buildings in the garden.) I also imagine the scent of tea would often be present.

Oct 17, 2007, 5:37am Top

#58: jagmuse and #59: plantluvver

That sounds so lovely! It would be great to find a book with an aroma left from its previous owner. :)

Oct 17, 2007, 8:01pm Top

In answer to message 1
No! your nat a wierdo!
I aggree with everything you say and I do the same as you.

Is'nt that what books are for?

May 25, 2008, 8:02am Top

Resurrecting an old topic, but this seemed appropriate:

'Books also give off special smells. According to a recent survey of French students, 43 percent consider smell to be one of the most important qualities of printed books—so important that they resist buying odorless electronic books. CaféScribe, a French on-line publisher, is trying to counteract that reaction by giving its customers a sticker that will give off a fusty, bookish smell when it is attached to their computers.'

May 25, 2008, 2:55pm Top

Sometimes I work with bookbinder's paste... I Really like the smell of that stuff!

May 26, 2008, 11:56am Top

Aw, I love the smell of books. I'm quite the smeller; I love smelling most things. Haha, sometimes people catch me smelling random things, and they look at me funny. Gee, I wonder why!

May 26, 2008, 2:34pm Top

I recently received American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau. It has a combination of unusual paper, ink and sewn binding that released a distinct fragrance when the seal was broken. I generally like the smell of books both individually and in the stacks of the Woodruff library at Emory University. My wife and I have a pug who insists on smelling each book that we read. As I turn the pages of the book she will insert her snout and audibly sniff until I make her stop.
I also retain the habit of breaking the back of a new hard cover when I buy it. I enjoy the feel of running my fingers up and down deep in the folds of the pages. It proclaims the book open for reading and claims it for me.

May 28, 2008, 9:37pm Top

You are a true poet! I relate to everything you said and you put it beautifully!
PS: LOVE your dog!

May 29, 2008, 2:37pm Top

I swear the reason I prefer Borders over Barnes & Noble is because they infuse the air with book-scent. Is that crazy? I walk in and just sigh. And yes, I have been known to a) buy a book just because of its smell, b) ask strangers how their book smells, c) take furtive sniffs while reading in public, d) gotten my kids in the habit of smelling books too. I truly thought I was the only one. This changes everything.

Oct 30, 2008, 9:48pm Top

Definitely. Love the smell of old books, but new books when you get the crunch the spine of them are good too.
Does anyone know the actual scientific word for this weird behaviour? Alot of people do it, so surely it has to have a name.

Oct 30, 2008, 10:04pm Top

Yes! I stick my nose between the pages and inhale. Bizarre isn't it?

Oct 30, 2008, 10:56pm Top

What do you think? :o)

Nov 1, 2008, 4:22pm Top


Mar 11, 2011, 1:58pm Top

Do any of you know how I can find out what kind of paper certain books were printed on? I'd like to someday write my own books from my story ideas and get them printed somewhere, and have that sour smell in hardcover and that strong (I don't know how to describe it) smell in paperback. I'm thinking the newer paper of today might not have that same effect as the older stuff from the '70s, '80s, and early '90s.

Edited: Mar 11, 2011, 3:32pm Top

I think it's more a combination of the ink used, the paper, and just time.

If you want to have a book with that smell, you could go to a local used bookstore, ebay, craigslist, etc. .and if they have any old hardbacks that are cheap you could get them and take out the bank pages from the front and back then have them bound.

Mar 11, 2011, 3:41pm Top

Yes I do at times smell the book that I am reading and after finishing a book that I have really enjoyed I will hold it to my chest, with love!!

Mar 11, 2011, 4:54pm Top

I don't smell at particular books but I love to inhale deeply when I walk between rows of old books in the library. It's like a meditation therapy for me, whenever I feel stressed a visit to the library usually does the trick. The general smell of books can relax me

Mar 11, 2011, 5:20pm Top

Whenever I buy a book, be it new or old, the first thing I do is open it up and take a deep whiff. Then I flip the pages a few times because I like the sound. I do the same thing before I read a book.

Mar 11, 2011, 6:38pm Top

I'm a dog. I smell everythng.

Mar 11, 2011, 6:54pm Top

There's a particular warm yet acrid smell found in libraries of old leatherbound books...

Mar 11, 2011, 7:09pm Top

>57 plantluvver: There is a way to get a musty smell out of really old books. My dad left me all of his dictionaries when he passed. He lived on a lake and kept them in his basement so they had a very musty damp smell. I put them in a plasic tote, the kind with a cover with a product called an "Air Sponge". The product usually comes in a platic container of some kind and contains charcoal and other odor abosorbing stuff. Kept them both closed up in the tote for about a week.....when I took the books out....no musty smell.

Wonder what a Kindle smells like ?? Must take away half the joy of having the book :>0 No smell, no feel....all books look/feel the same. How dull is that ??

Mar 11, 2011, 8:38pm Top

"I think it's more a combination of the ink used, the paper, and just time.

If you want to have a book with that smell, you could go to a local used bookstore, ebay, craigslist, etc. .and if they have any old hardbacks that are cheap you could get them and take out the bank pages from the front and back then have them bound."

So, the older a book is, the stronger smell it will have?

I heard somewhere that printing companies used a different kind of paper than is used today, which had a stronger "sour" smell as it aged over time. I've noticed that in hardcover books of the '70s and '80s and early '90s. Would the place/conditions it was stored in (i.e., the library) have anything to do with it?

Mar 11, 2011, 8:46pm Top

yes i smell my books
mainly if theyre new

Mar 12, 2011, 8:47am Top

>80 VideoWriter: Age does have something to do with the smell of a book but it is more about how the book was stored. If one collects older books often they find that they were stored in basements or attics. Books that are exposed to dampness get something called "book mold" (which can spread from book to book) and they often have a very strong musty odor. Most often not a pleasant odor.........
Another problem is "smoke odor" We have people bring used books into the store that smell very strongly of cigarette smoke. Usually the owner will not buy them....but if it is a very desirerable book he will buy it and "destink" it in the tote.

When shelved and cared for in normal situations, older books have a particular odor all of their own. Not objectionable at all. Just different.

Mar 12, 2011, 10:27am Top

Coincidentally, I've just been having this conversation on the Open University website and I'm amazed at how many of us there are. With me, it's not so much old books, as it seems to be with many people. but the books that are new with semi-glossy pages (a lot of academic books fall into this category, OU ones in particular). They have a slightly plasticy, chemically smell - which might explain why I love them because I'm also a fool for WD40, old-fashioned creosote, tar, felt-tipped pens, paint etc. My daughter has inherited this "problem" too and whenever either of us has a new academic book we know the first question will always be "how does it smell?" It gets us some strange looks from other members of the family but it gives us many innocently happy moments. The accompanying hallucinations are just a fun side-effect.

Mar 12, 2011, 1:16pm Top

From one of the letters of Flannery O'Connor (p.164):

"Oh, I meant to ask you. Do you read the National Geographic or do you smell it? I smell it. A cousin gave me a subscription when I was a child as she noted I always made for it at her house, but it wasn't a literary or even a geographical interest. It has a distinct unforgettable transcendent apotheotic (?) and very grave odor. Like no other mere magazine. If Time smelled like the Nat'l. Geo. there would be some excuse for its being printed."

Mar 16, 2011, 3:48pm Top


If you are a dog, take away the word "everything" and you have a more accurate statement! LOL!

There is another question to be asked about smelling books. Do you just hold the book to your nose and inhale? Or do you flip thru the pages, start to finish really quickly, and inhale the breeze that it gives off?

Mar 16, 2011, 4:39pm Top

All of the above ! ;>)

Apr 12, 2011, 12:07pm Top

I flip thru the pages and take a deep inhale. Absolute heaven.

Apr 12, 2011, 12:13pm Top

Occasionally. Some books smell really really bad though. I blame the ink.

Apr 12, 2011, 12:30pm Top


Are you sure it's the books? Maybe you have to answer the question via removing the last 2 words (i.e. Remove "your books" from the question).

Sorry, had to ask! LOL!

Apr 21, 2011, 11:09am Top

Unrepentant book sniffer here.

Those I like most are the ones where the ink and glue smells have mostly faded, and the paper sends of a whiff somewhat akin to vanilla. Usually goes with a moderate amount of yellowing of said paper, especially in mass-market paperbacks, and probably contributes a good share of the "pleasant used-books shop smell", with just the lightest smidge of musty.

Apr 21, 2011, 7:52pm Top

I've gone so far as to design my own fragrance just to smell like book dust. It's my main comfort scent!

May 19, 2011, 6:37pm Top

>82 faceinbook: I noticed an "old library book smell" in two hardcover books with full-color, glossy pages from the library, one from 1993 which I read in 2006, and one from 1994 which I read in 2007. I don't know how to describe the smell, maybe it was sort of like magic markers or white glue. I've noticed that the books were both aged 13 years.

Would a book of the same type that's printed, say, this year and stored in a library a certain way have that same smell 13 or so years from now, or are books printed with a different type of paper today than before that doesn't give off that kind of smell as it ages? It's interesting to think about that.

May 19, 2011, 8:34pm Top

I'm glad I found this thread, as I have always loved to smell books ever since I can remember. Anchor and Vintage paperbacks seemed to have the nicest smells. I think glue must have something to do with it. I guess I must really be a glue sniffer.

May 26, 2011, 2:12pm Top

OMG! YES! I thought I was the only one!
My friends all laugh at me for it, but if I'm uncertain about wether a book will be a good one, the sniff test always lets me know, and never ever fails. Well, unless its been in a heavy smokers house for awhile, or something like that.

I feel so normal now! Book sniffing has always been one of my secret "omg people will laugh at me! Im so wierd!" things.

Jun 6, 2011, 9:10pm Top

Yes I also smell books, and I hug them if they are especially good reading!!!

Jun 6, 2011, 10:37pm Top

When you love books, you know you've found the right website when there are 95 posts regarding whether you smell your books.

Jun 7, 2011, 5:08am Top

>#94: so that's why you disguised your real name, Smelly W.

Jun 7, 2011, 3:48pm Top

I work at a bank, and if you have never smelled fresh from the Federal Reserve money, I would suggest smelling a brand new book. That crisp, fresh smell of a brand new book is the exact same. I can't seem to get enough of it. I think that its the ink that attracts me to the smell. MMMMMM!!

Jun 7, 2011, 4:19pm Top

Ok, cruising through random groups and saw the title of this thread.......Thank God I'm not the only one who smells their books! LOVE the smell of a book...whether brand new from Books-A-Million or dusty/musty from an old used book store. Best thing to smell besides horses in the world!

Sep 11, 2011, 6:18pm Top

Hard to believe no one has posted this: http://smellofbooks.com/

Haven't had such a good laugh in quite a while.

Sep 25, 2011, 1:50pm Top

I have a pug who sits on my lap when I read. She won't let me read a book until she has given it a thorough sniff.

Sep 25, 2011, 8:33pm Top

Mmmm, old-book smell... :)
Inspired by this thread I went looking for an older book on my shelves and took a good whiff of my secondhand copy of An Autobiography, by Agatha Christie. 1978 was a very good year.

Sep 26, 2011, 5:14am Top

Most of my books have the old-book smell, however I have purchased a few brand new online and they have a very special new-book aroma.

Sep 27, 2011, 8:44am Top

I've just revisited one or two old books on my shelves which have a deep tobacco smell. Not the acrid, stale cigarette smell of last night's ashtray, but the deep, rich smell of a good pipe tobacco, as rich and as heavy as fruitcake. What would it have been I wonder, Old Holburn, Three Nuns, Exmoor Hunt?

Now, just like General Sternwood in The Big Sleep, I have to enjoy this particular vice by proxy.

And misrecall Kipling's "old memories that gather in the smoke".

There was a character, I think it was in one of Len Deighton's books, who entered a rather dark room which was lined with shelves full of old leather bound books. But there was a strange smell about the place, and he asked the owner what it was. "3-in-One", was the reply, "It keeps them supple". He had ruined a priceless collection by soaking them with the oil. Can anyone remember, was it a Len Deighton book, and if so, which one?

Mention has been made of the lack of smell of a Kindle. Some time before the Kindle, Elspeth Davie took this concept further in her short story, "The Man Who Wanted to Smell Books". It begins: "This was the time when every book in the world had been put on the tape, when long ago every catalogue in every library could be read from hundreds of flickering screens which quickly settled down into a steady blue and green twilight shade, or at times a purple, violet and pink, the colour of rainbows. The library which had once been a murky, mysterious place was fun at last. Into this brave new world comes a man who remembers what books looked like, what they smelled like."

Oct 8, 2011, 3:20am Top

ahh the smell of books sigh ...I love walking into books stores I always stop for a second and just enjoy the smell.I love to go to my book room at home and just sit next to them so I can enjoy it I dont do it enough.For me the smell of books is like walking into to your grandmothers house and smelling fresh baked cookies.I always call it one of my happy things in life.

Edited: Oct 12, 2011, 2:16pm Top

I swear I can even smell a used bookstore from the street sometimes! I love it!

A few months ago a used bookstore opened up, and it is quite lovely. The only disappointment is that they repainted, and it smelled of fresh paint. It still doesn't have that wonderful old book smell. I wonder how long it will take to acquire it!

Another item I love the smell of that might seem strange is Halloween Jack O'lanterns.

Oct 8, 2011, 10:08am Top

In The Phone Book Ammon Shea goes on for four pages about smelling books.

Early in our relationship my wife and I confessed to each other that we both like to smell books. It has worked out very well.

Oct 8, 2011, 11:51pm Top

I love that slightly musty old book smell too but I really don't like when books have a smokey smell...sort of like a dirty ashtray (yuk). I've noticed lately that some of the new books I have read have a slight bleach smell. I'm assuming it is the bleach they use in the paper but I don't know why I've never noticed it previously. Maybe they have changed the way they process the paper.

Oct 9, 2011, 9:31pm Top

Yes, indeed! I love the smell of old books! It reminds me of times when I was a child. I fairly despise the Kindle, nook and other such modern contraptions. All personality and human touch is lost with this "technology".

Oct 21, 2011, 4:35pm Top

I notice people mentioning smelling books more frequently than ever. the latest is this quote from a blog post on the Monticello web site. "I could only imagine the reactions of the visiting students as they felt and, in my opinion, most importantly, smelled the same books that Jefferson and his grandchildren would have read. "


Oct 21, 2011, 5:02pm Top

Yes, especially if they are brand new.

Feb 16, 2013, 9:39pm Top

So does anyone know if there's an actual term for people that sniff their books? I found one that said "Bookophile" but i doubt this is a real term, if it is or there's another term someone please tell me!! or email me at dawnchevier55@hotmail.com Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

Feb 17, 2013, 4:51am Top

I'm guessing 'nosobibliophile'.

Feb 17, 2013, 1:17pm Top

I'd go for "bibliosmophile".

Feb 17, 2013, 2:33pm Top

There' a rich vocabulary which oenophiles use to descibe the smell of wine. Perhaps a like vocabulary should be used for books.

Feb 18, 2013, 6:43am Top

#115 Loving that idea. "An unpretentious little volume with a bouquet of very large wet cats, flying fish, carnivorous foliage and just a hint of philosphy thrown in" (Anyone want to guess the book? This might make a great game.)

Feb 18, 2013, 1:35pm Top

Feb 18, 2013, 3:41pm Top

Well done, nemoman!

Feb 18, 2013, 5:21pm Top

Racy with a hint of wet dog. Comes on strongest when its raining.

Feb 18, 2013, 6:13pm Top

Feb 18, 2013, 6:18pm Top


Feb 18, 2013, 6:29pm Top

The aroma lingers in the air for a considerable time. It seems to last for a year. Redolent of lavender and truffles, with a hint of pastis.

Feb 18, 2013, 6:33pm Top

Feb 18, 2013, 6:51pm Top


Feb 18, 2013, 7:17pm Top

A bold, masculine scent that annouces itself in short declaratory whiffs. An old mustiness pleasantly contrasts with a bracing sea brine. After the first page you will be hooked.

Feb 18, 2013, 7:24pm Top

A sniff of peat, heather, the salt smell of the sea store, a whiff of religious rivalry, and aqua vitae aplenty.

Feb 18, 2013, 7:37pm Top

Kidnapped? by RLS

Feb 18, 2013, 7:43pm Top

I always smell my books before I start to read them

Feb 18, 2013, 8:35pm Top

Ah, but do you swirl them in situ to release their exotic esters. Do you check your reading glasses to see if the book has legs. Do you swirl the initial words in your mouth as you read to yourself. Do you shelve certain books to be read later after either they or your palate has matured.

Feb 19, 2013, 2:20am Top

Back to guess the book, please!!

Edited: Feb 19, 2013, 5:27am Top

>127 nemoman: A very good guess, and I'm beginning to think it might be a better answer than the one I had in mind. But no, something more modern.

Edited: Feb 19, 2013, 6:06am Top

#125 I was thinking maybe The Old Man and the Sea.

Did I just completely derail a perfectly good conversation? (Slinks off trying to look innocent . . . )

#126 Whisky Galore?

Feb 19, 2013, 6:51am Top

Whisky Galore it is.

Feb 19, 2013, 11:22am Top

>132 Booksloth: Claro que si.

Feb 19, 2013, 2:03pm Top

Absolutely. But not in my living room though

Feb 19, 2013, 11:46pm Top

Does non sequitur have an aroma ?

Feb 19, 2013, 11:56pm Top


Feb 20, 2013, 12:31am Top


Edited: Jun 17, 2013, 1:00pm Top

Yes I have always smelled books and record albums (back when they were new). "Hot of the Press" always had a great aroma. Paper run through a printing press - a faint whiff of heavy machinery and oil. Ink. So many kinds of ink.

Albums were the same. The shrink wrap had an aroma, you opened that and poof - out came the vapours of the cover art ink. In most cases, delightfully alluring. Then you slid the vinyl out of the plastic - and the vinyl records manufacturers all had their own aroma - Mercury was my favourite, followed by those thick MCA records of the early '70s.

There is still association to this day of various vinyl record companies and the music. Same for books. The way a new Penguin smelled compared to the way a new DoubleDay smelled.

I dislike the smell of old paperbacks that have started to go musty. That simply can't be healthy to breathe : )

Jun 17, 2013, 11:58pm Top

I too will often hold a book up to my nose and inhale the wonderful aroma that is literature.

Jun 18, 2013, 3:38am Top

Yes always.

Jun 19, 2013, 4:51pm Top

Am I a weirdo that I don't smell my books? :( I just love being in bookstores and buying books but I never smell them,I mean even when I do I don't feel anything

Jun 25, 2013, 3:24pm Top

I love the smell of new books

Jun 26, 2013, 2:11am Top

I am a book smeller, especially when I have purchased from Amazon and I know that they have traveled all the way from the USA to me in Aussie land, I also smell shoes when purchasing to see if they smell like the leather that they are supposed to be!! Another smelling thing of mine is to smell fruit when purchasing to make sure that the smell is one of freshness.

Jun 30, 2013, 3:02pm Top

yes I do ..however now I have the Nook so cant really smell it, except for the plastic smell of the cover, lol

Jun 30, 2013, 3:03pm Top

I also have to smell shampoos as i am allergic to sveral smells of herbal ones, lol

Jun 30, 2013, 3:03pm Top

go for it! worse things in life!

Jun 30, 2013, 5:17pm Top

I try not to. I was around in the 70's - books I couldn't read because of the stench.

Jul 1, 2013, 3:19am Top


Deb - First of all hi, and welcome to LT. Just to point out that you've done the perfectly natural thing of assuming that when you click 'reply' you are posting a reply to that particular message. As you can see, it doesn't work that way and everything you write just gets tacked on the end. The best way to avoid this is to start you message by referring to the number of the post you are replying to. Hope you have fun here.

Edited: Jul 14, 2013, 8:19am Top

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