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Why old books smell so good

Old book

You know how you go into a rare books library, or maybe an old used bookstore, and you step between the shelves and take a deep breath and there it is: that incredible old-book smell. To me, it always smells like leather and caramel and dust and sunlight, all blended together.

Turns out, there’s a scientific answer (as well as a teleoogical one) for just why old books smell so damn good:

This sign might be on to something. Smell is the scent most strongly tied to memory, and in my dreams (the real, I’m-asleep ones) I’m often combing the shelves of a vast secondhand bookstore, looking for treasures. Despite all the exciting possibilities opened up by e-readers, there’s one thing they don’t have, and won’t ever have: that old-book smell. What scent will subliminially stoke the e-book generation’s hunger for knowledge?

 Actually, one perfumer–Karl Lagerfeld–has actually created a perfume based on the smell of books. Has anyone out there tried it?

Literary Partners