Friday, April 13, 2012

Old Books Stink

I mean that literally, not metaphorically.  

This article and video from Abe Books made me crinkle my nose in disgust, not at his writing or the video, but just from an imaginary aroma conjured from memory.  It's funny how aural sensations bring forth things long unseen.

For the last few years I've contended liking e-readers better because your hands don't smell bad after holding them.  Someone once asked me, "What kind of books are you reading? Ewww!"  They're not ones rescued from the sewer or anything.  I just think old pages, covers and the "library candy" that binds them just smell bad.

It's like the damp of an old basement.  Those curtains that have never been dusted, much less taken down and washed.  Abandoned game boards left in the corner cobwebs since 1979.  The smell of a damp cardboard box where they've rested unread for too long.  All reeking of long-forgotten stories and abandonment.

Call it OCD, but I have to immediately wash my hands to rid them of the fresh-from-the-wet-dog's back scent.  Wouldn't that send anyone less than a dog fanatic in a rush to the washroom?    

The video guy claims old books smell like a "combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness."  Acids are surely a part of the combination, but I say they're mixed with the dank of sweating concrete walls, rotting sheet rock, a tinge of athlete's foot, and ink decay. And I don't like that on my fingers. Organic compounds, indeed.


  1. This post makes me think of my daughter's aversion to the library. She won't use library books because "they have boogers in them." I am a pretty honest mom and I haven't been able to truthfully refute that claim so I just buy her new books. I understand being creeped out by anything porous that has been handled by many people.

  2. I'm with her! All the more reason to love my booger-free Kindle. :)