December 02, 2019


Did you know that the smell that emanates when you open a book has a name?


Oliver Tearle, a lecturer in English at Loughborough University coined the term Bibliosmia in 2014 by combining the Greek words for ‘book’ and ‘smell’.

Why do books smell the way they do?  Science tells us that old books have a sweet smell with notes of vanilla flowers and almonds, which is caused by the breakdown of chemical compounds in the paper.  Chemical reactions spanning a considerable amount of time produce these sweet odors.

New books smell like they do because of the chemicals used when they are manufactured. The smell of new books can be attributed to three factors: the paper itself (and how it is manufactured), the inks used to print the book and the adhesives used in the process of bookbinding.

While we don’t buy books for the smell alone, Bibliosmia certainly adds to the overall experience.