Monday, November 20, 2006

Booksniffers Anonymous

Do you sniff your books? I love the smell of new trade paperbacks with glossy pages, and of old slightly mouldering tomes which smell of apples stored in a dusty outhouse over winter.

Steven Poole ponders the power of booksmell on the Guardian blog:
If smell can influence our romantic choices, might it also influence our critical faculties? As a reviewer, might I subconsciously write more kindly about books whose smell I prefer? I fear I can't rule it out. Could publishers employ parfumiers to give their books a commerical fillip? Perhaps they secretly do already ...
But maybe book sniffers are secret junkies? The medical journal The Lancet suggested that "fungal hallucinogens" in old books could lead to "enhancement of enlightenment".

Is this why once hooked on books we need our fix so badly? Well perhaps help is at hand with this support group for British booksniffers!

Surely there should be a medical term for the booksniffing phonomena. Is there a doctor on the blog who could concoct one?

19 comments:

Lydia Teh said...

Bibliorespirator - a book lover who loves to sniff books.

Coined by : Dr. Quack Teh

Sharanya Manivannan said...

I have a real thing for books from India.. the smell is incredibly unique. The smell of Indian dust. Indian pages. :)

Sham said...

Sharanya - I SO agree with you....sort of a sandalwood smell and everything sweet and musty

Anonymous said...

me love the smell of books... sigh. i could live in a library forever!

lil ms d

Sufian said...

A while back Oxford published a set of books which include smell (scratch n sniff thing). So with the books you can smell the smell of London in Shakepeare's time or Queen Victoria's feet ect etc...

animah said...

Sufian, how would the authors know what Shakespeare's London smelt like? I like to provoke kids when they pretend to be dinasaurs and say, hey what if they sounded like cicaks.
I like the smell of Indian books, but hate the smell of hardcover American books. Do the English books smell?

madcap machinist said...

I believe the term for a person who likes the smell of books is a bibliosmophile (from the greek root 'osmo-' for 'smell').

Conversely, bibliosmophobe is for those who think that books stink.

I sniff books too. And I (discreetly) lick business cards when I receive them -- to test the paper quality.

madcap machinist said...

so if you like the smell of Indian books you will be an indiobibliosmophile...

and Animah doesn't like the smell of American hardcovers...hmm... americanosclerocalyptbibliosmophobe... hahahha ...

The Eternal Wanderer said...

Hahaha, Machinist, you rock!

I definitely love the smell of freshly unwrapped books! I get such a pleasant feeling from them when I hold a newly opened book in my hands close and bury my nose deep within it. I specifically looovvvee the smell of those from the manga and comics sections. Those books not only use good paper quality but wow...the smell was a real olfractory delight!

Hmm... wonder what you call a person who loves the smell of comic books? Machinist...need some help here! :p

Giant Sotong said...

Pretty soon we'll need labels for certain books: "Warning: Upon unwrapping and inhalation, do not drive or operate heavy machinery."

Will this be a new book banning criterion?

americanosclerocalyptbibliosmophobe said...

Madcap Machinist, I am not giving you my call card.

Anonymous said...

hyhahahaha....an erowid link on your blog. ahak, ahak.

i sniff books too..but i just really like the smell of paper. and newly printed books / mags.
hmmm.

Mmmmmmmmm.

lainieyeoh said...

and, that was me not getting logged on to your site again.

Sufian said...

Animah,

I'm sure loads of maths is involved. Trust the Brits, they know what they're doing.

Ron said...

I will admit it: I'm a book sniffer (except for library books - don't you just hate all those strange bits of things that turn up between the pages?).

bibliobibuli said...

i'm really glad i put this up ... you guys provide a lot of entertainment!

bibliobibuli said...

and i ended up in silverfish yesterday sniffing all the indian books thanks to sham and sharanya (even got mr. raman doing it too - that was funny!!!) - they do smell nice but couldn't detect much difference .... hmmmm

Argus Lou said...

You guys had me clacking my dentures in delight. What a topic! And the responses it elicited!

And I thought I was a closet book sniffer. Long ago I read 'Monster Dogs' and in it was this huge Great Dane/Shepherd mix (if I remember right) who could read and write; he would sniff the ink of anything he read (including newspapers!) or wrote and inevitably ended up with an inky nose.

Bib, methinks the India-originated books in Silverfish have had one too many Malaysian honkers poking into them already. Nice, sandalwoody scent diluted by nasi lemak/roti canai/teh tarik aromas already!

Picturing you and Mr Raman sniffing around the shelves made my day. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Check out our booksniffers site!

http://uk.geocities.com/booksniffersanon/

Bertie