Are book sniffers weird?

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Book sniffing is probably one of the weirdest traits that us readers have. In case you’re not a reader, I’ll explain it to you; have you ever walked into  a bookstore and seen a bunch of people smelling all the different books? Well they’re what we call book sniffers.

Book sniffing is a trait where readers will test the quality of a book by the smell of it.

I have to admit I am guilty of being a book sniffer. Every time I look for a book one of the first things I check is the smell of the book.

What do book sniffers look for?

Booksniffers look for a few things in particular when trying to find a new book:

  1. The first thing book sniffers look for in a book is how old it smells. Most book sniffers can be found in second hand book shops or op-shops; anywhere you can find old books. Every old book has its own individual smell; it’s the fingerprint of a book.
  2. The second type of book sniffers are completely opposite to the first. They look for that new paper smell; if you can put a book to your nose and feel like you’re holding a freshly printed document then you’ve found the smell. It’s almost like how a new car can hold that new car feeling with its’ smell.


A book has got smell. A new book smells great. An old book smells even better. An old book smells like ancient Egypt.  – Ray Bradbury

The smell of a book is what makes it unique. It turns what would be just another print into an individual piece of art, giving sentimental meaning to the owner.

This is why I love finding old second hand books; even if you already have a copy of the book, each one still feels like a new and unique copy thanks to its smell.

I always find that second hand copies of ‘Lord of the Rings’ have the best smell. Every second hand book shop will have at least one copy of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and that copy could be at least fifty years old. Every time I see one in a bookstore I have to stop and smell it because I know it will have a different smell everytime.

Do you guys agree that books have their own unique smell or do you see them as identical copies? What do you prefer; that new fresh book smell or the old rustic smell of a second hand bookstore? Post your thoughts below.

-Chris Gutteridge

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