Oooh, That Smell

An e-bookseller has taken the advice of a poll of college students and begun issuing “old book smell” scratch and sniff stickers with their online sales.

Reuters reports that a poll of 600 college students shows that one of the qualities they most enjoy about their physical books is the smell, whether old and musty or new and crisp.

That’s why CafeScribe will now sent students the smelly stickers after they download their purchases, the company said in a release Aug. 23.

“By placing these stickers on their computers they can give their e-books the same musty book smell they know and love from used textbooks – without any of the residual DNA you sometimes find stuck to the pages of used textbooks,” CafeScribe’s CEO Bryce Johnson said in the statement.

My girlfriend’s first reaction was, “That’s stupid,” and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a marketing gimmick that’s going to drive a few people out there (like me) to write blog posts and spread the word a bit, but that’s about it.

I foresee this sticker thing going away rather quickly, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to curiosity. I want a few of those stickers, boy howdy.

An interesting thought for those out there who are still thinking about the borders between print and electronic text, though. Is this a sign that the computer is an inferior reading tool, that the computer must emulate the printed word in yet another way for it to be accepted by readers?

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