Book perfumes?

It was a busy week here and I was distracted.

Except for The Perfumer’s Story Old Books.

So we’re doing a quick look at book fragrances.

I think the idea of a perfume based on the smell of old books or libraries or book shops is attractive. But, to my mind, there aren’t many out there that are successful.

TPS Old Books is the one I find closest to reality. Most of what I have smelled (only a small number) seems to rely too much on a fruit note for no reason I really understand.

Old Books, as I mentioned briefly last week, is, as I said, dry, musty slightly sour – like walking through the stacks of a bookshop found in the backstreet of an old city. Notes, again, are frankincense, olibanum, myrrh, elemi, patchouli, amber, vetiver, cedar. The frankincense and myrrh work to smell like crumbly book pages. This is the smell of The Strand bookshop in NYC; of my childhood library; of my now gone ex-husband’s library room (with stacks) in the house we shared briefly in London. It smells like loads of books and very scuffed waxed floors. I am enjoying my purse spray and will see how things go. I can’t see myself ever buying a regular sized bottle – the small one suffices.

The only other ‘book’ scent I own is a Byredo Bibliotheque candle. To me, that does not smell like books or libraries. It’s a nice fragrance but rather pedestrian and certainly not evocative of books, etc. Notes are plum, cinnamon, leather accord, violet, birch, patchouli and vanilla. I guess the nose thought the violet, birch and cinnamon might lend a dry, bookish aspect, but the plum up top sort of messes that up.

Other things that popped up when I was searching for book fragrances include the following (most are in the US).

Demeter Paperback. Violet and potpourri. Not sure potpourri would help with getting book smell.

Wicked Good Perfumes Old Books. Parchment, honey, coffee beans, leather accord, vanilla. The notes sound very interesting.

The Strange South Je Veux Mon Livre. Tea leaves and sage pressed in old books.

Solstice Scents Library.

Powell’s Books. Wood, violet, some thing called biblichor (apparently this is a real word that refers to the smell of old books). Apparently this is a book store on the West Coast of the US which decided to do its own perfume.

Finally, the Chase and Wonder website in the UK has a candle called The Library. Woods, amber, pink pepper and pomegranate. C&W does beautiful ceramic holders for its candles. I’ve yet to smell any of them.

So, there you go. Anyone sampled any of these? Have a book/library perfume that is reasonably realistic they love? More suggestions?

Pic from Pexels

  • Tom says:

    I love you guys- It only fits that I would have to read that a bookstore that I have been to a few times and is on the same coast upon which I reside now has it’s own scent..

    • Tom says:

      Unfortunately shipping on Powell’s scent is almost as much as the scent itself so I won’t be trying it anytime soon..

      • cinnamon says:

        Guess you’ll have to go there and try it (if they stock it at the shop). Sort of gives an excuse if you wanted one…

  • Musette says:

    My first ex-DH and I had a library room and he managed a used and rare bookshop. Both smelled like books but in wildly different ways. Our home library was mostly art monographs (some vintage but mostly current) so didn’t have that Old Books smell. It smelled mostly of paper, beeswax and rose oil – adjacent (there was a potpourri bad in one of the drawers). The shop smelled like Old Books, dust, paper, humanity.
    I don’t want to smell like Old Books but my absolute favorite scent of that type is Christopher Brosious’s In the Library.


    • cinnamon says:

      a library room is wonderful. with comfy seating areas? no, I don’t see myself buying a bottle of OB, but it’s nice having the little purse spray. I really do wish we had CBIHP here…

  • Shivawoman says:

    I think Solstice Scents, in addition to having really amazing perfumes in general does great atmospheric scents, most of which are not for sale at any one time. Check out the Master reference on site. There are several dusty, wooden, paper scents, one which even uses a papyrus note. If I had to categorize Angela St John’s work, it would be 1) gourmand (plenty of those), 2) Incense, woods, leather (oodles of those. all of them fantastic) 3) Atmospheric (some of them are too much so for my taste like Cliffside Bonfire and other seaside motifs or earthy ones using petrichor which amps on me) but those also include Manor, Library, Attic, etc.4) Just great lovely scents like Rosewood Estate or Courtyard. Out of all the perfumers/indie/niche I know, she has the most book, library, wooden floor sort of scents.

  • March says:

    As Spring Pansy mentioned, CBIHP In the Library … Dzing! is a fantastically weird frag but doesn’t smell like library to me, more like a circus. I reviewed that Santa Fe scent Lions in the Library recently and it’s a nice scent but also not library. I love that book-smell and I go into my library frequently on my walks, just to enjoy it.

    • cinnamon says:

      It’s strange. You would think it would be possible for more of the book scents to smell closer to book smell. I would think incense notes, violet, some orris, some spices would work as a mix to mimic old paper…

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    No, I’ve loved the smell of old bookstores but never wanted a fragrance that smelled of it.
    On a tangent. I love the TV series Black Books.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      I don’t own a tv currently (got rid of the last one during housing back and forth in 2020) so the only things I watch are on laptop and that’s pretty much Gardeners World. a bit pathetic, I know. Will look up Black Book.

  • SpringPansy says:

    A couple more suggestions: CB I Hate Perfume – In the Library (wonderful and does smell library-ish) and L’Artisan Dzing! (also wonderful, but maybe smells more like circus to me. Leather, caramel corn and a bit of someone’s French perfume, although maybe that’s just the power of suggestion). I’ll have to try Demeter Paperback again. I remember liking it.

  • Tara C says:

    I have Bibliothèque but I agree it doesn’t smell like a library or old books. Frapin had a room spray years ago that was supposed to smell like a library that was quite good, but I don’t think it is made any more.

    • cinnamon says:

      I think I looked for Frapin perfumes a bit ago but found nothing. I do like the Bibliotheque candle, but it has nothing to do with books.