The smell of old books is one of the most evocative series of particles to ever enter my nostrils. It totally ecompasses the coziness of curling up to read with the possibilities of adventure between the pages.
If I were weird enough to have such a list, it would easily make it into my top smells of all time. Right up there with rain on a hot day, woodsmoke, and the smell of my dogs once they’ve been freshly washed.
There’s nothing quite like it. Or there wasn’t, until the famous Powell’s book store decided to release its new perfume, “Powell’s by Powell’s”.
The fragrance is marketed as unisex, because smells totally had genders up until now, and is said to have notes of wood, violet, and biblichor.
Biblichor is a word created to describe the scent of old books, so that seems a bit presumptive. However, it’s a very good word, so I’ll allow it.
The response has been, unsurprisingly, overwhelmingly positive. Old books is a scent beloved by many, and so it seems many would like that odor on demand. Powell’s has even needed to place a second order to fulfill demand.
Though I’ll stop you right here because it’s not currently available out of the USA.
So why do old books smell so good anyway? It’s all down to the volatile organic compounds the books themselves are made of. Everything from the cover, to the paper, and even the ink all break down overtime to release this combination of scents.
Paper also holds smells really well. Fragrances a novel has been exposed to over time, such as spilled coffee, pressed flowers, smoke by a fire, all live on for future generations.
Something else very cool about biblichor is that it can be used to help date books, or tell when they’re in need of preservation. Hopefully folks won’t be alarming any old book caretakers with their new perfume.