I have always liked the smell of old books. I am the guy who prefers to walk the stacks at the library rather than check the online catalogue. I would take having a book physically in my hands rather than reading it online any day. So, on the note of the wondrous musty smell of old books, the following was in the Chronicle today (and click here or on the link below for a longer version from Glasgow's website)...
Investigating the Smell of Old Books
Researchers at Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde are studying the smell of old books to “sniff” out the chemical signs of aging.
Books are placed for 24 to 48 hours in a sealed chamber, where “material and compounds responsible for the odour from the books” will be extracted and analyzed, according to a university press release. Findings from the analysis will be used to determine the best practices for storing old books—and may also explain where that musty old-book smell comes from.
The study is being conducted by the university’s Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry in partnership with the British Library, on a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.—Catherine Rampell