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What causes the smell of old and new books? (infographic)

Why we love the smell of old books? The nose is responsible for that. It’s one of the strongest ways to trigger memories, old good memories from times when parents had used to read books to us in bed.

Compound Interest, the blog exploring the chemistry behind everyday objects, has published a very interesting infographic (also embedded below), explaining differences between the smell of old and new books.

When you buy a new book, you’ll mostly feel:

  • the smell of a paper itself,
  • the ink used to print the book,
  • the adhesives used in the book-binding process.

As stated, differences in paper, adhesives, and inks used will influence the ‘new book smell’, so not all new books will smell the same – perhaps the reason why no research has yet attempted to definitively define the aroma.

The old book smell is a result of the degradation of the three major ingredients described above. What you’ll feel is a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla.

No matter whether you are addicted to the smell of an old or new book, check out these perfumes, candles, and other home decor items with a great paper scent.

What causes the smell of new and old books - infographic

Other infographics to explore:

Common literary devices – the ultimate infographic guide
– May 6, 2022

The most popular literary hotspots across America, by state and genre (infographics)
– April 29, 2022

Reading for pleasure declined since 2004 by almost one-third
– April 27, 2022

Book censorship in the 2021 by the numbers
– April 26, 2022

How to set up and organize a perfect home library (infographic)
– February 21, 2022

Recommendation box

Gifts for modern bookworms in 2023

Based on recommendations from top tech sites and customer reviews.

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Coffee and candle warmer with USB charger

Coffee and candle warmer with USB charger

This innovative little accessory that guarantees your coffee or tea will be always warm. You can also use it to release the scent from your candle without lighting it. Thanks to USB port, you will be able to charge your phone while reading.


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Innovative reading light

Compact and innovative reading light

From a German brand Nachteule comes a clever book light that you attach not to a book but your reading glasses. It’s so light that you can also clip it to your earphones or hair accessories! The built-in battery will let you read 200 pages.


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Hands-free pillow stand

Hands-free pillow stand – great for e-readers and print books

An improved version of a popular Lamicall tablet pillow comes now with a side pocket for a pen or small accessories. The grooves are deep enough to hold a print book. It’s made of durable materials and is available in five fashionable colors.


More gifts for bookworms