Why Books Smell So Good

So THAT’s why!

Strawberry Stars

      You know what I’m talking about, old books smell incredibly good. The ebook technology kind of takes the magic out of it. Here’s a scientific explanation as to why old books have this unique and pleasant aroma, when practically, we’re smelling dead trees.


     I came across a piece of analytical chemistry inspection, where a group of scientists took interest in the study of material degradation of historical paper, and noted some curious findings. The fragrance is due to a group of complex VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, that get released into the air as you flip the book’s pages. Some of these VOCs have been identified, and the smell of books can be best described as follows:

A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness, this unmistakable smell is as much part of the…

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