Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mmmm... Book Smell

Today there were a couple of blog entries in the publishing world about getting over the "book smell" argument against e-books.

Kassia Krozser posted that we should all stop arguing that digital books shouldn't take off because the experience isn't the same as paper books (, and Nathan Bransford agreed with her on his blog, saying that car owners aren't always lamenting the fact that their subaru doesn't smell like a horse.

I agree with Kassia that the e-books and paper books are two entirely different things. However, when most people talk about e-books they are talking about whether or not they are the future of publishing, the next big step, the ultimate replacement for the books we know and love. It is exactly like deciding on whether or not you like horses or cars, and not deciding between a car or a train. The only difference I can see is that horses smell like asscrack.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of an e-book. But when I think of them taking over, I find myself saddened. I'm a rare book collector (yes, I'm a geek), and love not only the feel and look of paper books, but yes, the delicious musty smell. Mmmm... Old.

The smell brings up memories of my childhood when I'd tuck myself into the 2' x 2' place between my bunkbed and my bookshelf, tack a blanket up, and read for hours with my flashlight. It reminds me of waiting in the used book store until the bus showed up, stowing away in the attic and pretending I was that kid in "The Neverending Story."

I'm going to miss that smell, dangit, and I think we're allowed to say that it's not the same.

E-books are cool and probably necessary, but if they take over entirely, what will happen to the simple pleasure of smelling a good book?

What do you all think? Book smell: awesome or overrated?


Anonymous said...

The smell of a great book doesn't do anything for me one way or the other. I do think alternative formats are here to stay. That being said, many of my friends LOVE the feel (and smell I suppose) of a book. While e-books will have a defininte market share, I don't forsee traditionally bound books as a thing of the past.

Great post!!!

Rebecca Knight said...

Thanks, Christine! :D I certainly hope so.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for popping in!