Vanilla? Yeah, well, to me the smell sort of reminds me of old, dry spices. Like a spice cabinet. I seem to remember a line in Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes where he describes the smell as reminiscent of an Egyptian mummy. Am I imagining things or is that line truly in the book?
So you know, why old books smell. Also see this new research on why old paper turns yellow.
Then again, old-book smell is part of the joy of books.