I always smell any book I pick up without exception. Even the ones I know will stink. Old books from India often have an acrid smell which can be nice but also very quickly too much. Like piss maybe? I’ve always wondered why that is, and of course the obvious answer is true; they must use less quality paper, making books almost straight from pulped bark, instead of taking out any acidic stuff. Janneke just sent me a great little 5 minute radio item (by Alex Gallafent for TheWorld) about book-smellers. Turns out the smell of a book is really connected to its age.
“..It has a mustyness. What is must.. do we know what must is? .. It has a shoebox, a shoeboxness.. It smells llike pockets like people’s pockets.. the inside of somebody’s purse”
And if you’re already using an iPad or Kindle whatever and don’t read books anymore, here is a perfume that smells like old books.