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In Case You Ever Wanted To Know…

November 18, 2009

…there is actually science behind that ever-elusive and tantalizing “old book smell” that makes used bookstores and libraries such wonderful, wonderful places. According to the New York Times, some nerds over in London hypothesized that the smell was a result of the releasing of volatile organic compounds and set to work analyzing 72 pieces of paper of various types and in varying conditions, all dating throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Apparently, they found a correlation between the presence of certain compounds with the characteristics of the paper. For example, a large amount of lignin or rosin (shrug) was found in paper that degraded easily.

What I would like to know if there is a biological reasoning behind why we’re attracted the smells of “volatile organic compounds,” or if it’s more psychological (old books=comfort, or something like that). So hop to it, scientists.

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