On the Scent of a Story

Pic by neurmadic aesthetic

I’M A bookaholic. Have been ever since I learned my ABC. My folks even had to hide all the torches away so I didn’t spend all night reading under the bedcovers.

The beloved once made a futile attempt to ban me from buying any more books – he reckoned the walls were on the verge of caving in under their weight.

It’s a fact that I can’t go anywhere without at least one. It’s like having a secret security blanket, only instead of wrapping a comforter around me, I can wrap myself up in a world of words whenever I want to.

Holidays are the worst – especially holidays in the bush where camp shops are filled with food supplies and tourist tschotskes and just about the only books available are about the bush – and I’ve already got most of those.

I load myself up with as much reading matter as I think I’ll need and somehow I always manage to get through it all way before the holiday’s over.

It’s the main reason I love my new Kindle. It can hold more books than I’ll ever read – more than 3 000 – so it’s saving my sanity, as well as the walls.

It’s a pretty sterile carrier. No dog-eared pages, coffee stains or missing pages – and that suits me, too. Never could stand handling a tatty tome.

And just in case I miss it too much, pretty soon I’ll even be able to take the smell of real books with me wherever I go, too, according to an article passed on to me by colleague Sven Herselman.

Apparently, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is such a rabid bibliophile – he owns about 300 000 books, a bookstore in Paris and a publishing house and is about to open a bookstore in New York – that he’s about to launch a perfume that smells of books.

And how’s he going to do that? Well, according to a story in South Africa’s Times newspaper, he’ll be using a “fatty olfactory mark”, whatever that means.

Paper Passion – the perfume’s name – will apparently be packaged inside a hollowed-out hardcover book (how could he?).

Lagerfeld’s not even the first to do it, though. Demeter Fragrances have a scent called Paperback. “A dusty old copy of a Barbara Pym novel did it for us,” says their website.

And then there’s Zadig &Voltaire’s Tome 1, which is also packaged inside a book, according to Vogue magazine, and “designed to be representative of the story of a fallen angel, the brand’s ultimate symbol of its rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic”.

Says Sven: “I love books myself but I don’t think I would like to smell like one, nor do I think that my better-half would like to snuggle up too close after I’ve splashed on a little scent-o-book.”

Couldn’t agree more, especially as “musty” is the only scent I can summon up when it comes to books. – Stevie Godson

(A version of this column first appeared in the Daily Dispatch)


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This entry was posted by stevieg on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at 3:43 pm and is filed under A Passion for Words . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. Anna says:

    So don’t spray it on yourself, spray it on your Kindle.

  2. Mmmmm….still loving the smell of a brand new book.
    Musty old library books leave something to be desired, especially when they come with free bogies welded to the pages! (Yuck!)
    However, I feel that these innovative book scents could have a use; dab a drop on a tissue and inhale when using your E-reader for a wonderful, multi-sensory experience.
    Keep blogging!
    Simi xxx

    • stevieg says:

      I think I’ll pass on the bogies, Simi, but I like your idea of a dab of perfume on a tissue. Might try that!

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