Wednesday, August 16, 2006

book huffing

a couple of weeks ago we were talking about preferences when it came to paperbacks, hardcovers, and trade paperbacks. but one thing we didn't discuss was SMELL!!!! i just received my early copy of Pale Immortal. A few days ago a friend sent me a copy of her new paperback. I opened my book.
Hey, this smells different than Michele's book.
Pick up Michele's. *sniff, sniff*
Pick up mine. *sniff, sniff*

yeah, a LOT different!

So pretty soon I'm going through the house sniffing books. Now i realize books can pick up all sorts of scents, so really the only way to test this is to actually go to a bookstore and sniff several books.

I haven't done that, but in my quest for answers and comparisons I noticed that many of the trade paperbacks smell similar, and they smell MORE EXPENSIVE. really. Go sniff some books. You know you want to.


Bill Cameron said...

One of the things I love most of all is going through a printing plant, or even better, a bindery. Paper, ink, glue. I love it. It smells so lush and wonderful.

anne frasier said...

i would love to visit either of those.

but a paper mill... ick! so strange that those smell so horrendous, yet paper itself smells good.

Daniel Hatadi said...
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Daniel Hatadi said...
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Daniel Hatadi said...

Book sniffing is the dog's bollocks. That means it's good. I can't read a book without sniffing it a few times, and I don't want to. Unless it's an unhappily kept book from a library. Sticky.

Patting is good too. I like patting books when I finish them. You know, just holding them with both hands and kind of clapping. Makes me feel like I've really finished.

(two deleted posts because of typos. I'm anal that way)

Ooh, the word anal is on your blog now. Can you handle that?

angie said...

WTF?! Are those armpit sniffing clones? You find the damnedest, yuckiest photos! My brain needs an emergency shower.

And congrats on the non-armpit smelling book!

Jaye Wells said...

Anne, having spent summers growing up in my grandparent's used book store, I can say the smell of books reminds me of good things.

Here's the worst: I ordered a bunch of books for my son from Ebay. They are stories I loved as a kid and couldn't find them new. Anyway, they arrive, and I'm ecstatic to share them with my kiddo.

But they smell like an ashtray.

It's sacrilege. I have no problem with smokers, but jeez, don't exhale directly on the children's books, okay?

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I actually have gone into bookstores to smell books. One of the things I don't like about Barnes & Noble is that half the time all I can smell is coffee. Not that that's bad, it's just not books.

Used bookstores are great for that. Provided my allergies don't kick in from all the dust.

And old books, stuff from the 1800's are the best, IMHO. I've got an 1872 "Don Quixote" with Dore prints. It's a beautiful book, but it smells even better.

And for some reason all of the POD small press books smell kind of off. I wonder if they would do better business if they used better smelling glue?

Of course, none of it compares to the smell of a shooting range.

anne frasier said...

daniel, i'm glad you explained about the dog's bollocks. i thought maybe that was a bad thing. i'm going to start saying that all the time just to confuse people. :D and yes, library books can be disturbing! as far as anal goes -- unfortunately that seems to be my middle name so it's appropriate here.

angie, that was the best sniffing photo i could find!
i hope it didn't cause any permanent damage!

jaye: i'm no good at ebay. i've gotten a couple of smoke-saturated things. one was a cute velvet beret, the other was a 50s airline bag. both almost knocked me out. i hung the bag on the clothesline for about 2 months. paper really absorbs cigarette smoke, but it is strange that the books would smell that much. must have been some really heavy smokers in a small room! the smoking room.

anne frasier said...

stephen, i love the smell of old books. i think part of it is the leather, but that musty smell mixed with the scent of old paper -- love it!

i'll have to do some POD sniffing. maybe they use glue from really, really dead horses, rather than just dead horses.

Anonymous said...

I am never, never going to get that image out of my head.

I have to go rest now.

anne frasier said...

sorry, jason. the woman in front? i'm thinking armpit fetish. all the rest of them are keeping their distance.

Michele said...

I'm a sniffer! I never buy a book without first smelling. I prefer the really old book smells. Not the naffy, something-is-wrong-or-was-spilled on this smells. The really old books that smell like a different century. Those are awesome! (My favorite is my 19th C copy of The Three Musketeers).

The pulpy paper books smell much better, to me, than the smooth sheet books. You know those kinds, the cheap paperbacks, but even the hardcovers that have the uneven paper edges. Much better than the smoothly cut, really white paper.

First thing I do when I get author copies of my own books? You know it!

Okay, now I've exposed far too much about one of my quirks. Slinking away...

anne frasier said...

michele, of course it was your book i was sniffing to begin with. haha!

i started taking allergy medicine a few days ago and my sense of smell has become acute! i'm like a damn dog running around sniffing everything.

Tami said...

Oh man that picture WAS disturbing. Where do you find them Anne?

Anyway, I love the smell of any kind of book, old or new! It makes me feel comforted if that makes sense.

Jaye, to get rid of the smoke smell, put a few pieces of newspaper between a few of the pages and keep it there for a few days. Newspaper sucks up the smoke smell (not sure why, just does.) I've also heard of putting them in a ziplock with baking powder and sticking them in the fridge. Strange I know, but they seem to work!

anne frasier said...

tami, i remember seeing that photo a few years ago. maybe something john stossel did. if i remember right, they were testing deodorant. the guys would get all sweaty, and the testers would take a sniff. i want that job!!

i've never heard that about newspaper or baking powder.

thanks! i'm going to definitely try that. i still sometimes get manuscripts that smell like smoke.

Jeff said...

I love the smell of bookstores and new books. I always smell a book before I buy it.

The noses in the pits nasty. lol

Jaye Wells said...

Tami, thanks for the tips. I'll try the newspaper thing.

anne frasier said...

jeff, i didn't know everybody was already sniffing books! i thought i'd really come upon something genius! :D

jaye: let us know how it works!

Andy said...

Sniffing books is something everyone who loves reading does, isn't it? I know I've been round second-hand bookshops with friends and we've all been having a good snifty at some of the more ancient tomes.

Waxing poetical, I think smelling books for me is about smelling time. There's this sense, the older the book is, that what you're smelling is the accumulation of years, of people's DNA being smeared on the pages as person after person has read the book; it's very different to the smell of a new book, which for me doesn't appeal because it's all chemical and there's no presence, no spirit to it - just artificiality.

An old book, on the other hand, with yellowed pages, a dust jacket that looks like it sounds and has worn-away, white edges wherever it folds, now that... That is something to get your nose into as well as your eyes. x

anne frasier said...

andy, i do love the smell of old books and that feeling of touching the past when you pick one up. i do hate the moldy ones though. i've heard those can be put in a microwave, but i've always been afraid to try it.

thanks for stopping by~~