The Smell of Books

For those of us of a certain age (read: Old Folks) reading has a deep association with many of our senses that the current trend towards e-Readers simply do not provide.  Books, those physical collections of bound pages provide us with a certain weighty heft that lets us know we are reading something substantial.  There is the tactile satisfaction that comes with turning individual pages and hearing those pages as they move from the right side of the book to the left with a gratifying visual sweep across our field of view.

And then there is the wonderful smell.  Be it a new book or an older book, opening up a book brings forth such an identifiable scent that even if we were blindfolded a true book-lover would recognize it as a book — and with that would likely come a flood of wonderful similar-scented memories.

Now, I’m not about to equate the smell of a book with the bouquet of a fine wine or the perfumy essence of heirloom roses.  I merely point this out because the e-Reader manufacturers have gone to great lengths to address the way their e-Books look, but no one has addressed how they smell.

Until now!

Yes, indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen!  From the wonderful people at DuroSport Electronics, comes an exciting line of new book-related scents that their web site describes as “a revolutionary new aerosol e-book enhancer.

But, you might ask, is “Smell of Books” compatible with  my e-Reader?  And what about Digital Rights Management issues?  Never fear!  From the company’s website:

“Smell of Books™ is compatible with a wide range of e-reading devices and e-book formats and is 100% DRM-compatible. Whether you read your e-books on a Kindle or an iPhone using Stanza, Smell of Books™ will bring back that real book smell you miss so much.”

“Smell of Books” comes in several heady and intoxicating aromas such as “New Book Smell,” “Classic Musty Smell,” and (for my fellow Jane Austen fans) “Scent of Sensibility.”

This may be the push e-Books and e-Readers need to reach that much-needed tipping point!

Edit: It has come to my attention that “Smell of Books” has unfortunately been the subject of several recent problems.

The very first day of April started off badly for the company. The mails brought a somewhat threatening letter from The Author’s Guild that read, in part:

” While the Authors Guild supports efforts to improve the digital reading experience, we believe this product represents a significant threat to the development of aroma rights, and as such, will adversely impact the rights of our members.

It is important to note that in the digital era, books, and the smell of books, have been decoupled. In the future we expect authors to participate in the development of custom aromas for their books. These olfactory rights constitute a derivative right to be licensed separately. The preservation of these rights is essential as authors explore new markets and distribution channels. ”

Later in the very same day the company was forced to issue a voluntary recall of all of their “Smell of Books” products. To quote again from their web site:

“We have just learned that our aerosol can supplier in China mistakenly shipped us a small number of recycled cans. In some cases New Books Smell labels were inadvertently affixed to cans that actually contain new car smell.

Please note that this mixup will not cause any harm to the consumer or to the electronic books. It is just that these cans will not produce the scent that you are expecting.”

To date, the company has yet to bring their unique product back to the market. However, when they do, I’ll be there to buy several cans both for myself and to give away as gifts — and I hope you will, too!

— Tom
(Because some years call for more than one April 1st)