Viewer Mail: Help Me Find a Bookstore Perfume

Hi Katie,

I've been looking for a perfume or candle for a young woman that captures the scent of a bookstore. Any suggestions? I've read that Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur is close, but I'd like your professional opinion.



Hi Parker -- Dzing! is one of my favorites, and some say it smells of cardboard, but I focus more on the soft, almost gamey, leather aspect. Dzing! doesn't smell of a bookstore at all, but it is alluring and more-ish.

CB I Hate Perfume has a scent called In the Library, which highlights the sweet, borderline mildewy aspect of library books. It's evocative of tomes in an old building, but doesn't smell like hot-off-the-press books with their fresh, crisp pages and fresh, crisp ink.

I'd go for Comme des Garçons Odeur 71, which possesses a photocopier ozonic charge, along with a slightly-burnt woody smell that conjures fresh paper -- and B.O.

I don’t know about y’all, but I always smell B.O. in bookstores. I’m not sure if the B.O. "aromatics" are the result of keyed-up bookworms’ overactive sweat glands, or something in the chemical makeup of new books that mimics it.

It’s a great smell, and always gets me “gingered up”, as the Brits say. Something to do with having a crush on a bookstore employee back when I was a teenager, and spending many hours doing some nubile lurking behind the stacks.

And despite the unconventional nature of these odors as perfumes notes, they all smell dandy on the skin.

Fumeheads – can you recommend some bookstore scents for Parker?


  1. Demeter Paperback, for as long as it lasts, smells very much like a used paperback exchange, minus the surly proprietor.

  2. moon-grrl, Paperback certainly sounds like a contender.

  3. For candles, Henri Bendel has one (is it Vanilla Bean or Vanilla Woods?) that smells bookish. The Firewood candle is to die for, but admittedly not a bookstore smell.

  4. Ooh yeah, Angi, you just reminded me that Le Labo Vanille 44 has that woody-vanilla intersection that smells like paper. But Parker would have to go to Paris for that, since it's a Paris "city exclusive". Dayam.

  5. anything with musk in and/or vanilla

  6. S'funny, thekat, those do seem to be the culprits in "bookalike" scents.