Apparently it took the advent of e-books to make people fully aware of just how much they loved paper books. The latest evidence of this is the proliferation of perfumes and other scented products based on the “smell of books.” You certainly didn’t see so many of these before Amazon. BoingBoing has a post linking to eBook Friendly and Quartz pieces discussing the trend.
The “smell of books,” they tell us, comes from a chemical called lignin, related to vanillin, that is released by paper as it ages. Reportedly, experienced antiquarian booksellers develop the sommelier-like ability to judge a book’s age simply based on how it smells. Also, smell is the sense most connected to memory, so it’s not out of the question that the smell of books has a lot of nostalgia bound up in it for people who associate fond memories with books, libraries, or bookstores.
With that in mind, it’s understandable some people feel so strongly about wanting the smell of books in their lives, for all that we’ve poked fun at it in the past. I don’t see that as a reason to give e-books a miss, but different people will feel differently. But at least the existence of all these scents will give people a way to trigger those fond old memories while still reading on a Kindle!