Smelly books

Camy here, and today you’ll have to forgive me because I’m going on a bit of a rant.

There are several nonfiction books I need to get for research for my novels. Some of them are out of print, so the only version I can get is a used copy at an online book store.

I recently ordered a used copy of a book from a bookstore that said it was in “good” condition. And it was–the cover and pages were in great shape.

However, it had a faint odor of perfume that had permeated the pages. I didn’t notice the perfume at first because it wasn’t overpowering, but the more I read and handled the book, the more I began to notice it.

The smell was faintly nauseating to me, and what was even worse, it clung to my hands after I touched the pages, even if I only touched one page for a second. I kept feeling the urge to wash my hands after picking up the book and putting it down again.

Now, I’ve dealt with smelly used books before. I used to order out of print Regency romance novels that came with the odor of cigarette smoke. I tried everything to get it out, and I could usually decrease the smell so it became fainter, but I could never completely get the smell out of the pages.

I have a feeling the perfume in this book is going to be the same way! The smell is already admittedly faint, but even if I douse it with baking soda, I’m not sure I’ll ever get the smell entirely GONE. And that is the only way I’ll be completely happy with this book!

I’m so annoyed that I’m seriously considering scanning in the pages I need from this book and putting it through an OCR program so I’ll have a private ebook copy THAT DOESN’T SMELL.

Maybe I’m a bit neurotic about this. But I know I can’t be the only one affected by smells of books. Anyone else?


About Camy Tang/Camille Elliot

Camy writes romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance as USA Today bestselling author Camille Elliot. She is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of the Sunday worship teams. Visit her websites at and to read free short stories and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Smelly books

  1. Maureen Lang says:

    I was given a book that smelled of mold, which is nauseating to me – and we own a piece of furniture that used to smell like cigarette smoke. I never did get used to the moldy book, just got rid of it. But the cigarette smell on the chair really did fade over time and any scent has since disappeared. Which is good since I really love the look of the chair!

    I think if something is aired out, over time the smell will go away. But if you’re doing research for a project you’ll likely need to read that book NOW. The baking soda idea is a good one – how about the Fabreeze sprays they advertise that can make even garbage smell better? Might make the book a bit damp at first but if it’s aired out/fanned to dry right away it won’t have the chance to develop any mold. On the other hand, that may be exchanging one perfume smell for another, but at least it would be of your choice.

    I hope something works out for you, especially if the book has the content you’re looking for!


    • camytang says:

      I thought about Febreeze because that stuff sure does work on dog odor! However, I’m not nuts about the perfumed smell of it. I might try it on a piece of scratch paper to see if the Febreeze perfume wears off over time.


  2. Julie Graves says:

    I hate borrowing books from the library when they smell like cigarettes! Bleck! It always makes me feel dirty to touch it and the smell does cling to my hands so I am continually having to wash them. I’m very sensitive to perfume so I don’t know if I could keep the book you are reading. If a magazine has a perfume scent in it I have to get rid of it because I get an instant headache. Unfortunately people who smoke and people who wear a lot of perfume don’t seem to be affected by their own smell 😦

    A older man at church hugged me one time and he was wearing a heavy aftershave or cologne. The smell clung to me and when I got home I had to change clothes and shower to get rid of the smell…ack!

    I feel for your sensitive nose 😉


    • camytang says:

      Julie, I’m the same way, I’ll sometimes get headaches from perfume. It’s really bad because often they’ll develop into a migraine even if I get away from the perfume. I happened to smell my sweatshirt sleeves yesterday and they smell like the perfume from the book! Yuck! How in the world did that happen??? I took it off and washed it today.


  3. C. C. Gevry says:

    I’m with you. My allergies are so severe that used books aren’t always an option for me. Musty smelling books set off my asthma. I love browsing used book stores, but I better have used my inhaler before stepping inside. If it’s a really neat book or a great deal, I might pick it up, but I can’t keep it close by.


    • camytang says:

      Ugh! I can’t imagine needing your inhaler just to walk into a used book store! I feel for you! I’m not crazy about the smell of used book stores, to be honest, because it seems to always smell of the nastiest smelling books, no matter how many clean books are in there.


  4. sarahssundry says:

    I got a book once that smelt like the previous owner had dowsed each page in a flowery perfume. I couldn’t even escape it by putting it down because the perfume had claws that had attached to my skin and followed me around the house. Even still today, certain perfumes remind me of that book (which I sadly had to get rid of) and makes my stomach churn.

    Hope you can find a solution. I don’t know what OCR is but it sounds like a good solution.


  5. It should come out with vinegar, if you open it and let it sit near a bowl of vinegar overnight. Or put it in a tote with a bowl of vinegar and close the lid overnight. Sheesh!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s