Old Books Up Your Nose

Many people notice the smell of old books. Some people study it, and even write monographs:

Material Degradomics: On the Smell of Old Books,” Matija Strlic, Jacob Thomas, Tanja Trafela, Linda Csfalvayov, Irena Kralj Cigi, Jana Kolar, and May Cassar, Analytical Chemistry, vol. 81, no. 20, October 15, 2009, pp 8617–22, DOI 10.1021/ac9016049. [AIR 16:2] (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, who are variously at University College London, U.K., at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and elsewhere, report:

“We successfully transferred and applied -omics concepts to the study of material degradation, in particular historic paper. The main volatile degradation products of paper, constituting the particular “smell of old books”, were determined using headspace analysis after a 24 h pre-degradation procedure.”