Almond, Vanilla or Nutmeg? Let’s Talk about Book Smells!


Professor Faber, the bibliophile in Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel, “Fahrenheit 451,” sniffs a book and says: “Do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land?” His simple observation embodies our love affair with traditional books, which endures because of how they feel in our hands and also how they smell.

The paper, ink, and binding used in producing a book create its distinct smell. What’s your favorite book smell?

New Books vs. Old Books

New books have a different smell compared to old books, according to a video by Scieshow called, “Why Do Old Books Smell So Good?” New books smell crisp and fresh while old books smell like almond, vanilla, coffee, cut grass—or as Faber points out, like nutmeg.

The chemical compounds found in a book’s paper and binding are the source of the smells, especially after they have interacted with light, heat, and moisture.

The Scieshow channel on YouTube explores scientific subjects that people find surprising and pique their curiosity.

Watch another book-related video:

Do You Know What Makes a Book a Book?