Sunday 3 March 2024

Two Neologisms

In recent years two neologisms have appeared to describe the smell of old books: Oliver Tearle came up with ‘bibliosmia’ in 2014, combining the Greek words for ‘book’ and ‘smell’, and a year earlier John Koenig, in his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, invented ‘vellichor: the strange wistfulness of used book stores’, which, rather than connoting the smell itself, is the emotion that the smell invokes. The example he gives is: ‘There’s a bookshop on the corner and just walking past fills me with a sense of vellichor.’
Shaun Bythell, Remainders of the Day: More Diaries from The Bookshop, Wigtown (London: Profile Books, 2022), p. 61.