Bless the People Who Figured Out the Chemical Recipe For ‘Old Book Smell’

Khryss | Published 2017-04-08 23:27
Oh the joy of opening an old book, sniffing away its aroma. There's this certain comfort, like it's giving me a hug. With a tea or coffee beside me in my room, the corner of a cafe or even at the library, this is like a glimpse of heaven. While what's written in the book is really important and the momentary figment of imagination it gives us, I think we can all agree that there's this certain value on its smell (book lovers unite!).

Well Cecilia Bembibre thinks our love affair with its aroma is so strong that she have helped developed a 'Historic Book Odor Wheel' to document and archive the smells associated with old books. The concept was published in Heritage Science with their detailed  work.

"We had evidence that a lot of people value the smell of books, and the sensory experience that comes from holding a physical book and entering a library. No research had been done in this area," Bembibre told Motherboard. "Our experience of many cultural objects tends to be visual. So when we look at a painting in a museum or another historic object we tend to just look. With books, and the spaces that hold the books like historic libraries, our experience is really on so many different levels."

Sugar, spice, and everything that's nice? More like a dash of ‘old room’, a hint of 2.4-dimethylpentane, and a sprinkle of mothballed acetic acid (and many more)! With the odor wheel now assembled, the researchers just have to specifically find out how the smell of old books will be archived. But would having it be accessed in public a good idea? Or would the aroma descriptions just being written down and stored better?

"The idea of an archive of heritage smells, so smells that hold cultural value, is very attractive and we are developing it. But the big question is what do we do to preserve it? Do we preserve just the physical smell, like a sample, or do you want to preserve the experience?" she answered.

Well, there's no place like home. And home to me is holding and reading the book that I'm smelling. While it's a very interesting research especially to book lovers, I wouldn't trade just the smell to the whole out-of-this-world encounter!

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