"I suspect I am a scholar because I am a bibliophile rather than the other way around."

In this week's (yes, this week's) Chronicle of Higher Education, an assistant English professor talks about his bibliophilic obsessions. Why collect books? Is it because it's cheaper to have your own reading copy of a rare book than to travel to distant archives? Is it because of the sense of continuity you get from an old book that someone else has handled and made their own? Is it the way old paper looks and feels and smells?

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It's the smell

Reminds me of a scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer ("I, Robot"):

Ms Calendar: Honestly, what is it about them that bothers you so much?
Giles: The smell.
Ms Calendar: Computers don't smell, Rupert.
Giles: I know. Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell. Musty and, and, and, and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer, is, it ... it has no texture, no context. It's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, then the getting of knowledge should be tangible, it should be, um... smelly.

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