There's this somewhat distinct flavouring scent that emanates from freshly printed books, probably the chemical from the ink. I've been looking up for a word to describe this but I haven't found any.

The smell originates from newly printed books, but I'm looking for a word to describe the scent. In fact, this 'scent' in particular has garnered so much attention that 'Wallpaper magazine commissioned master perfumer Geza Schoen created a fragrance based on the smell of books as an opportunity to celebrate all the glorious sensuality of books'.

The perfume, named 'Paper Passion'.

The perfume, named 'Paper Passion'.

Interestingly enough, I can find a question on ELU about the smell of old books, but not for the smell of new ones.

As quoted from Karl Legerfield:

“The smell of a freshly printed book is the best smell in the world.”

Edit: In summary, I'm looking for a word with the emphasis of the smell in 'freshly printed books'.

  • 1. The smell of a new book is not just the smell of its paper. 2. There are many kinds of paper, with different smells. Likewise, many kinds of books and book smells. 3. And then there's the ink, since you mention freshly printed.
    – Drew
    Sep 29, 2015 at 18:15
  • 1
    Ahh yes, but I'm asking for the possibility of a word the encompasses the meaning of the smell of a freshly printed paper/book, with emphasis on the freshly printed and not the type of it's paper. @Drew
    – Ronald
    Sep 29, 2015 at 18:16
  • Same thing - lots of ways to print. If you are looking for a name for an ink smell (or a glue smell or...) then I think you are unlikely to find an encompassing term.
    – Drew
    Sep 29, 2015 at 18:17
  • True. A freshly printed newspaper may smell horrid in comparison to a freshly printed book. I'll edit the question and see how it goes. @Drew
    – Ronald
    Sep 29, 2015 at 18:19
  • There are very few nonderived adjectives for the olfactory sense. That is, most smell words are really nouns ('X smells like flowers. X smells flowery').
    – Mitch
    Sep 29, 2015 at 19:54

4 Answers 4


You could say, The smell is novel. 'Novel' can mean new. And that's a bit of a pun too if your new book is a novel!

Otherwise I think crisp would work well as it can mean "firm and fresh" which sounds to be exactly what you describe.

  • 1
    Haha, nicely done with the pun part. However, I feel that everything new can be described as smelling 'novel', its too generalised and not really characteristic in describing the smell of something freshly printed.
    – Ronald
    Sep 29, 2015 at 17:53
  • 1
    In that case you might like to call the smell "Will Smith" He was the Fresh Prince.
    – shaunxer
    Sep 29, 2015 at 17:56
  • 1
    My upvote is for crisp, as in crisp hundred dollar bill. Sep 29, 2015 at 18:03

addictive ink

That special blend of ink, water, solvent and finisher. I work in the printing industry and a lot of what we print smells just like Magic cards. –reddit : Why do just-opened Magic cards smell so good?


It's not exactly like huffing gasoline, but it's close: solvent and finisher.

  • Raise your hand if you remember ditto sheets.
    – Mazura
    May 5, 2016 at 0:54

There's Bibliosmia, which is also found here, here and here.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a formal definition for Bibliosmia in 'official' dictionaries, but I think it fits.

  • osmia is the correct suffix for smell as used in medicine, so I'd say this is ligit.
    – epsilon
    Jun 9, 2018 at 2:03

The poster in the link here identifies several specific compounds associated with the aroma of old books (toluene, furfural, benzaldehyde, etc., decomposition products of lignin). The compounds it names for new books might not produce the aroma you are thinking of, but it suggests that a variety of additives in the ink and adhesive may be responsible.

My guess is glycol ethers, used as solvent for applying the ink, the last of which which would dissipate slowly. So I'd say go out on a limb and call it the glycol ethereal smell of new books. This sounds cute since ethereal is already an aroma-signifying adjective.

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