Do you like the dramatic headline? I couldn’t resist. The Library of Fragrance is, of course, Demeter Fragrance Library by another name, and they have recently launched a capsule re-branded range at Boots. Thomas from the Candy Perfume Boy already covered the launch, but what I’ve discovered is that Paperback, a scent which ought to be right up my street (or should that be nose?) is about to be launched in the UK, too. In a couple of months, apparently.
House of Blend (representatives of this brand in the UK) were kind enough to send me a bottle to try, and I have been wearing it in an accidentally harmonious setting; while packing my books (we are about to move house). Between my husband and I, we have well over 2000 books, most of which are stored away at the mother-in-law’s garage. We will fetch them after we move. There are textbooks, comic books, professional journals, novels, biographies, reference books, popular science books, classics, crime novels, science fiction novels, fantasy novels… or, to put it more succinctly, we are literary omnivores, and I am always studying or researching something. I’ve now started purchasing most new popular science, nonfiction and business books as e-books. As convenient as an e-reader is (I love being able to take several books with me on trips; to read in bed when the other person has turned the lights off; to never get that ‘oh, I have to spend two hours at an airport with nothing to do’-feeling)…I still have a bit of a fetish about books as objects. The feel, the weight, the ability to admire your collection in full view; the sense of making progress as you turn the pages – and the smell.
I’ve been sniffing books all my life. Not just books – magazines, newspapers, glossy magazines, brochures… and I’m not alone. For many people, sniffing books is part of the reading experience.
So, what does Paperback smell like? The first impression is of vanilla and amber. A milky, woody aspect presents itself soon after. The scent could easily be marketed as vanilla something-or-other, but what’s clever about it, is that as paper decays, it produces a vanilla scent (vanillin can be produced from many sources, one of which is lignin). Paperback is that yellowed page inside a Jane Austen novel you found at a forgotten second hand book shop. You’ve buried your face right in it; and get a nose full of the sweet, slightly woody, slightly cardboard-y decay.
Paperback never slips into gourmand territory for me, and this is a good thing in its context. However, it is lacking the dust, the ink; the glue from the spine – and the vanilla note is perhaps a tad too strong.
This is a really easy fragrance to wear, and it has managed to create a pleasant book-ish association, enough to hold my suspension of disbelief that this is a ‘book smell’. It’s very straight-forward, functional, even, but also fun. That’s all it’s aiming to do, and there is no pretentious marketing or painful price point. The Library of Fragrance also encourages layering, and since each 30ml bottle is only £15, it’s actually a viable concept for everyone.
The Library of Fragrance is a whimsical, carefree range, encouraging people to play with smells, and is delightfully free of snobbery. The scents certainly aren’t the perfume equivalent of fine art (more like panels in a comic book), but people don’t always want to wear demanding Grand Perfumes (in fact, the whole success of monetising celebrities and brands to produce easy-to-wear mass-market scents is at least partly based on this, but what the Library of Fragrance lacks is any particular brand or celebrity status – again, not actually a bad thing for a change).
Just as I like reading comic books from my childhood one day and a dense classic novel the next – I am happy to wear a playful, inexpensive scent one day, and a complex classic the next. I’ll wear Paperback as a nonchalant scent, and will most likely purchase many others from the range. These would also make fantastic first perfumes for tweens; and I am sure some of the sweeter concoctions like Cotton Candy and Marshmallow will go down extremely well with that age group. Although the core collection is available at Boots, there are several more scents available online.
According to Basenotes:
The Demeter Fragrance Library was set up in 1993 by Christopher Brosius and Christopher Gable. The pair created true-to-life scents, which evoked the scent of its title. For example, Dirt smelt like dirt, and Gin and Tonic smelt like a gin and tonic. Demeter was sold to Freedom Marketing Group in 2002.
And, according to the Library of Fragrance UK website:
Scents are now created by Demeter’s CEO, Mark Crames, who has been running fragrance companies since 1986. His creations include the top-selling Baby Powder, Pure Soap and Clean Skin and he continues to travel the world looking for inspiration for great, new Demeter experiences.
They have a Pinterest page with many more product shots, and some behind-the-scenes photos, too.
Paperback might become my favourite on days when I’m carrying the e-reader instead of books. It could make a witty present to buy with one.