Are You a Paper Sniffer? You're Not Alone!!

Bibliosmia - The Enjoyment of The Smell Of Old Books

Are you one of those people who will open a new book or magazine and enjoy the chemical, slightly acrid smell of fresh print? Well, you’re not alone and there’s even a name for it - bibliosmia (the smell and aroma of a good book). There are a number of reasons for this, firstly some people just simply like the smell - a heady olfactory cocktail of hydrogen peroxide to bleach the paper fibres, sodium hydroxide to boost the pH, binding adhesives such as vinyl acetate-ethylene and the actual inks themselves. 

A more complex reason is the close relationship between smell and memories. Such odour/memory links are known as the "Proust Phenomenon" in honour of Marcel Proust, the French writer who romanticized the memories evoked by the smell of a madeleine biscuit soaked in linden tea, in his novel, À la recherche du temps perdu. The ‘Proustian Phenomenon’ proposes that distinctive smells have more power than any other sense to help us recall distant memories. Experts have suggested the special impact of odour on our memory could be related to the proximity of the closeness of our olfactory bulb, which helps us process smells, and the amygdala and hippocampus brain regions which control emotion and memory.

For most of us, the smell of new print has many positive associations – the anticipation of the next long-awaited Game of Thrones instalment or a well-deserved bit of Me Time to leaf through your favourite magazine. If you always treat yourself to a new book at the airport to read on the plane, the new print will smell of ‘holiday’. Interestingly, the instant drying LED-UV Inks we use on our press smell almost the same as conventional printing inks.

Whatever the reason, smell is something that can’t be replicated on the digital screen ensuring the printed page will always hold a special place in people’s hearts and hippocampus.