Where does the scent of old and new books come from? We rounded up the facts about book smell some time ago, but the recently published research article gives new light (or we should rather say “flavor”) to the chemistry of the most addictive scent in the world.
A group of scientists at Institute for Sustainable Heritage (University College London) conducted an experiment to find and analyze the words used to describe the smell of the aged book.
The researchers asked 79 visitors of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to name the unlabelled smells that were presented to them. One of the eight tested odors was a “historic book smell.”
The word cloud you see above collects the most common descriptions of the book smell. The word “chocolate” was picked by a majority of respondents. It’s followed by “coffee,” and “old.” As you see, the descriptions are quite far from the “official” book smell descriptors: vanilla and newly cut grass.
An outcome of the research is Historic Paper Odour Wheel, a novel tool that can help an untrained nose identify an aroma and associate it with the chemical causing it.
The wheel contains eight main categories – they are placed inside the inner circle. The descriptors are grouped on the middle lever. The outer circle is reserved for the likely chemical compound causing the smell.
Click or tap the image to see it enlarged.
Via Mental Floss.
More to explore:
- Popular abbreviations as seen by book geeks
- Brick wall deformed by a single book – great installation by Jorge Méndez Blake
- These literature-inspired tea blends will make a great gift for every book lover
- Famous book quotes on infinitely charming posters by Simini Blocker
- A magic history of Harry Potter (infographic)
Want even more? Check out all articles in this topic: Geek stuff.
Start the discussion
Tips and tricks
Library ebooks are now showing up in Google search in the US
If you search for a book on Google, you may see now whether its digital version is available in a public library…
Amazon Fire 7 (2017) – tech specs, comparisons, reviews, and more
Everything you wanted to know about the 2017 Fire 7 tablet from Amazon. You’ll find here a detailed overview, comparisons with other 7-inch tablets, full tech specs, and highlights from top reviews.
10 premium iPad Pro sleeves hand-crafted from genuine leather and felt
Premium sleeves for iPad Pro 10.5 and 12.9, hand-crafted from genuine leather and natural felt. Options with or without Apple Pencil holder, for iPad with Smart Cover, and Smart Keyboard. Personalization options are available.
17 insanely colorful Amazon Fire 7 (2017) cases and sleeves
Brighten your life with the Fire 7 tablet, and brighten your Fire 7 tablet with one of these colorful cases, covers, and sleeves. They fit the 7th generation Amazon Fire 7, released in June 2017.
50 vintage bookmobiles from around the world
Rare photos of mobile libraries not only from the United States. Find examples from France, Sweden, Canada, India, Australia, Japan, Italy, Poland, and much more!
50 best Samsung Galaxy Tab cases and accessories
An updated selection of the best Samsung Galaxy Tab case covers, sleeves, and accessories. Tab A, Tab S3/S2, Tab 4, and more.