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The Smell of E-books March 11, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in reading.
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I came across this essay from last week’s New York Times, and admittedly, only read the first paragraph before I was inspired to write this post. Here’s what it said:

People who reject e-books often say they can’t live without the heft, the texture and — curiously — the scent of traditional books. This aria of hypersensual book love is not my favorite performance. I sometimes suspect that those who gush about book odor might not like to read. If they did, why would they waste so much time inhaling?

From methyl_lives' flickr stream Licensed under Creative Commons

Any guesses why I just had to respond? It’s no secret around here that we are big readers. And, I think pupfiction would agree with me that there is definitely something sensual about reading a physical book. Since I was a kid, I have recognized the different smells of books, and the scent of a brand new book is right up there with fresh from the oven apple pie and Final Touch Fabric Softener as one of my all-time favorites. Library books have a distinct smell as well, and though not as pleasing to me as a brand new book, still pleasurable in its association to the joy of reading a good book.

So why would the author of this essay claim that people who love the smell of books must not like to read? I know I am not the exception to the rule when it comes to enjoying the feel of a book. And for the record, I like reading eBooks too- I use the Kindle App on my iPod Touch, and will consume any written words in any form. Enjoying the scent of a book doesn’t change that.

What do you think? We’ve asked before what you think of eBooks, but let’s ask again… how much does the medium of your words matter? And have you ever noticed the smell of books?

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Comments»

1. pupfiction - March 11, 2010

I recently had a bar patron tell me that he likes girls “who sniff books” because that’s the type of thing “you can’t fake”. I think what he meant is that so many people try to act like they are well-read or enjoy reading, but the ones who really are readers don’t brag about it; they are the ones surreptitiously glancing around with their noses (literally) in the books.


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