25 February 2022

The reason old books smell better than new ones

Details in the embedded infographic, but for the TL;DR crowd, it's basically because the cellulose in old books breaks down into ring structures that have pleasant fragrances, while new books smell like adhesives, inks, and other synthetic molecules.  You learn something every day.


  1. This reminds me of the “new car smell”. I’m in the minority of my friends and family in that I absolutely hate the smell of a new car. A very old car however, unless it’s full of tobacco smell, can have a very “old library/book” smell.

  2. There is NOTHING better than the smell of old books!!

  3. So, not very old books, which were typically not made with wood paper pulp. I bet there's research on the different smells of parchment/vellum books, of cotton rag paper books, and of wood pulp paper books?

    I wonder if cotton had more lignin than wood pulp?

  4. Before you rush out to buy a bottle of those chemicals, I should warn you that most of them only smell nice as a faint whiff. Up close, they _stink_.


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