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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Smell of Books


I have some very strong memories associated with smells, but not one of them relates to the smell of books. However, it seems that the smell of books is something that has associations for many people. An article by Robert Gray, "Memory & the 'Smell of Books'" explores this topic. Gray asserts,
It is almost impossible to find an article about the e-books versus print books debate that does not include at least one person citing the importance of the "smell of books" as a primary reason for resisting the digital world's siren song.
What about you? Do you sniff books? Will you miss the smell of books when everything goes digital? Would loss of the smell be a reason for you to not explore e-books?

As I said above, books don't hold olfactory memories for me, but, I am very aware of books that do not smell normal. By this I mean books that are permeated with cigarette smoke, or the scent of mold. These smells will immediately turn me away from reading a book.

Despite many years of anti-smoking messages, there are people who still smoke. Some smoke so heavily that the books they return to us are secreted away for a few days to spend time in the "stinky box." The bottom of the stinky box is lined with charcoal to absorb the odors. Sadly, it is not always possible to rid the book of tobacco odor! But, we try...

I sometimes wonder if smokers have destroyed their sense of smell through their tobacco use. Navigating Smell and Taste Disorders by Ronald DeVere [616.856 DEV] may be able to give the answer.

Photo by maureen_sill

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