Whether or not you read old books or not, everyone’s familiar with the smell of the odd scents that haunts libraries and second-hand book stores. Similarly, there is also the smell of fresh new book pages of a newly purchased read and the crisp aroma of new freshly printed ink.
As with all aromas, the origins can be traced back to a number of chemical constituents. The chart (see above) examines the processes and compounds that can contribute to both. It’s likely that the bulk of ‘new book smell’ can be put down to three main sources: the paper itself (and the chemicals used in its manufacture), the inks used to print the book, and the adhesives used in the book-binding process. While the ‘old book smell’ is derived from this chemical degradation.