Bury your nose in it

Not so recently, on local TV, an advert was showing what pleasures buying new stuff from shops in Suria KLCC in KL can bring you. You can palpate some newly purchased piece of clothing, touch the keyboard on a new laptop, lick your lips and can’t wait to taste the plate of very little but very expensive designer-style food.
And, you can put your nose close to the opened pages of a newly bought book – and smell them.
Smell them? Now, what can be off about this picture, I ask?
Nothing. That is, nothing if

- the book is not a new book
- the man smelling it is not a young man

Because nowadays new books – and you can only get new books in Suria – cannot ever, any more, give off any kind of scent, especially one that causes our young man in the advert to close his eyes a moment in appreciation. Only very old books do (give some scent, that is); like those you can only find in musty old-books stalls managed by Indian gentlemen with great bushy moustaches, or in libraries which still neglected to throw or give them away.

The copy writer didn’t get the scene right : it should be an older man, one who has experienced appreciating a book even beyond the printed words – its distinctive acid-dy, sweetish smell. And it should be an old book, with the yellowed pages as outward evidence of its age.

New technology in treating recycled paper has made sure that such paper is made without any kind of that rather sweetish smell that you get from very old books. Next time you are in a book shop in Suria KLCC, try and take a deep breath with your nose inside any opened book. You really have to practically nudge your nose right into it if you want to smell anything. It’s most likely a little acrid or bitter, if anything at all. Shoppers around you would probably think you have a perverse fetish for books, like they are some kind of catnip.


  1. bibliobibuli says

    "Shoppers around you would probably think you have a perverse fetish for books, like they are some kind of catnip."

    I have a book-sniffing fetish, I must confess. Most of the books on my shelves have acquired an odour like rotting-apples as the pages have turned brown at the edges ...

    Leon Wing says

    "like rotting-apples..."

    That's actually quite a nice smell. isn't it? I used to have quite a few books like that, and sometimes they had little holes, from sliver fish running all over the brownish pages ... like worms eating through a rotten apple.

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