Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Used Book Smell

Apparently, "used book smell" wasn't quite good enough to describe that unique smell we literary lovers all adore. In fact, it wasn't even good enough to know the smell came from old books; these guys (above) decided they'd find out exactly what causes it.

In the enlightening video above, you'll find out that scientists have officially classified the smell as: "A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness."



Well. This just sounds kind of fun to me. So: how would YOU describe the smell of old books?


  1. It depends on the book.... Cookbooks always smell like oil and spice, sometimes souring milk or rotten eggs.

    I always feel like novels hold the scent of every reader who has flicked through its pages, and the combination of all those smells is why they smell musty. That and the dust that settles in the cracks between pages when they sit on shelves for a long time.

  2. OK, I have no shame. I actually went and found the oldest book I had and sniffed it. It smelled like library... like old books. Some museums smell like it too. I'm going to guess... It's a pleasant smell, sort of reminds me of linseed oil and wax. A bit of dust...? To kick it up a notch, I sniffed a new book. It definitely smelled more "chemical," like paint markers. There's definitely a difference...

  3. I need to keep track of that description :) That's awesome!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  4. I'd describe it in one word...beautiful.

  5. I agree with "musty" but think if my old books smelled like vanilla, I might be tempted to eat them. :-)
    Some Dark Romantic

  6. LOVE the smell of old books. Check this out from 1000 Awesome Things. #328 The Smell of a library.
    (I have this laminated and taped to my library door!)