Friday, March 11, 2011

Drunk on books

The molecular structure of lignin.

"Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us."
- From Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez's Perfumes: the guide.


smibbo conspiracy said...

that's not really accurate: Lignin actually IS vanillin when properly processed. Vanillin is made from Lignin which is extracted during the paper-making process. Therefore, paper used for books has very little lignin in it.

Anonymous said...

Having worked in a second-hand bookshop, I can assure you that the smell of them is made up of:
Sweaty, alcoholic book-dealers