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Do we pass the smell test?

Oh faithful print subscribers: We’ve had a few observations/complaints about the smell of the March/April issue of The Horn Book Magazine. While it is a special issue (“Books Remixed: Reading in the Digital Age”) we did not intentionally supply it with any kind of odoriferous effects; nevertheless, when I put my nose to it I do feel slightly transported to a forest of tiny pine trees. Not at all unpleasant to me but perhaps it’s like cilantro: some people taste heaven, others taste soap. If you have a copy, take a whiff and let me know what you think. If you don’t, why not pick up a copy and smell for yourself?

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Elizabeth Law says:

    My issue does smell a bit funny when I hold it to my face and take a sniff! I can’t pinpoint what it is, though.

  2. Smells just fine to me. Now I am being neurotic that I like weird smells or something though.

  3. I meant to write you about this. It smells so strong to me that I could not read it. (Now, I am an allergic person with many sensitivities, so keep that in mind.) I am hoping it airs out after awhile so I can indeed read it.

  4. I did notice that it had a smell, but not an unpleasant one. Just noticeable. I left it at the reference desk when I took a break; two colleagues were discussing the article about the Freight Train app while I was leaving, but none mentioned the smell.

  5. Anne M. Duncan says:

    As someone who lives behind the pine curtain in East Texas, it’s not a pine smell. I just compared it to the lovely Jan/Feb issue. There is definitely a difference. Is it the ink or the paper? I, now, just pulled out a Dec. 78 issue. There is a good smell. Yes, an old book person here.

  6. Richard Flynn says:

    Can’t say I particularly like the smell, but I had read the issue earlier in the week and didn’t notice till I accepted your invitation to really put my nose in the hBook.

  7. Irene Fahrenwald says:

    This issue stinks. Sorry. (But we’ll still read it for the articles…)

  8. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    Wendi Maresh, our excellent Customer Service Rep with QuadGraphics who prints the magazine, took copies of the magazine to all her department heads and asked them to smell the March issue. Everyone noticed the difference but no one could account for it. Paper, ink, varnish, glue all the same as past issues. But note that this issue was perfect bound, meaning glue was used in binding, while our last two issues were saddle stitched (stapled) with no glue. Here’s an excerpt from Wendi’s email to me:

    “I figured that since I’m now the crazy CSR that smells books, I could get away with smelling other things too, and I’ve smelled the giant rolls of paper, bindery glue, and the solutions and inks from the presses! The closest I came to the same smell was the bindery glue. It’s possible that we got in a batch of glue that had a stronger odor than what we have in here now, and the paper absorbed it really well – to the point that it retained the smell a lot longer than it normally would. That’s my best guess.”

    So there you go. The May issue will be saddle stitched, but July will probably use glue again because it will be our special issue on awards. Forewarned is forearmed? Or Fore-noseplugged?

  9. I finally sat down to try to read the issue tonight (it’s been here about two weeks, I guess, and another member of the household has already read it and not been attacked by the odor).
    I can still smell it, and it still bothers my sinuses and throat, but not as it was at first.
    I will be careful about July.
    I am, it must be said again, allergic and sensitive to this sort of thing, so take that into account.

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