The Birth and Decline of a Book: Two Videos for Bibliophiles

If you’ve ever spent any time with old books, or stepped into the right used book­store, you’ve encoun­tered that dis­tinc­tive smell. Pro­duced by Abe’s Books, and draw­ing on research from chemists at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege, Lon­don, this video looks at the sci­ence behind the aro­ma of used books — at what hap­pens when chem­i­cals and organ­ic mat­ter con­front heat, light, mois­ture and time.

When you’re done watch­ing the video, you might want to spend time with a sec­ond clip that deals with anoth­er part of the life­cy­cle of the book — the birth of a book. Shot by Glen Mil­ner at Smith-Set­tle Print­ers in Leeds, Eng­land, this short film lets you watch first­hand a book — Suzanne St Albans’ Man­go and Mimosa — being made with old school print­ing meth­ods. Enjoy.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.