Popular Science

Old books actually smell like chocolate and coffee

Sniffing out literary smells
scientist book foil

©HMahgoub

Sampling the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of a historic book at the Heritage Science Lab in UCL.

What does a book smell like? Freshly printed books might smell of paper and ink, but older books have a sweet, musky smell that wafts into a book-lovers nose and lingers.

And apparently, it reminds a lot of people of chocolate.

In a study published Thursday in Heritage Science, researchers at the University College London’s Institute for Sustainable Heritage examined the smell of books and libraries, putting together a classification scheme that could help characterize the scents of the past—and maybe

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