Wouldn’t it be cool if….

I was reading the other day in my favorite newspaper (those who follow this blog know what paper that is 😛 ) and I noticed two articles that I thought had ramifications to books of the future.  Now neither of these articles was about publishing per se, but still… 

The first article was about developers designing custom scents to encourage buyers to warm up to a home.  Not a new idea.  I remember that one real estate agent suggested that I bake cookies cccookies_05.22.08right before prospective buyers looked at my house.  They wanted the yummy fresh-baked-cookie smell to invoke yummy thoughts of the house.  This, however, is more commercial.  A specially designed scent to welcome you when you walk in the reception area of a condominium area, with a different scent for the fitness area and the spa. 

So that got me thinking, why not add scents to paper books.  I’m thinking more of the scratch and sniff variety scents, but it would give a paper book an “added value” pineover an ebook.  Can’t you see it?  A Christmas story could have a patch that released the fresh scent of pine or cinnamon.  All those stories that have heroines who are bakers would have scratch and sniff patches that made the immediate area smell like freshly baked cookies. 

Heck – I could use a scratch and sniff for The Whisky Laird’s Bed.  The patch would release the warm spicy scent of Scotch.  Now I’m not a big whiskey drinker, but the Untitled-1drink smells wonderful.  I feel the same way about coffee – love the smell, not fond of the drink.

Of course, we wouldn’t want a scent to go with every scene.  I’m afraid a realistic representation of Victorian London would not enhance a story. 😉   But imagine the possibilities!

The second article dealt with playlists.  Itunes forever changed the music business.  Some believe the advent of easy and inexpensive self-publishing has changed publishing in a similar fashion.  So I figure it’s wise to see what’s happening in the music industry.  While the article talked about professional playlist producers and curators, I was thinking about how neat it would be to have song tracks to accompany books actually be in the book.  

Now I know that some authors include mention of suggested playlists for their stories, but I don’t want to hassle with setting up the list.  I want the music to playBagpiper right when I hit the relevant scene.  I’m envisioning something for ebooks that would have a button you could hit to play the song…or the sound effects…for the key scenes in the story.  My Whisky Laird has a scene with haunting bagpipes played down a canyon in Scotland.  How cool would it be to actually hear those bagpipes? 

Or maybe the faint sound of a waltz could play behind the ball scenes in historicals.  I have a ball scene in my new indie release, Bound by Moonlight – as well as a short belly-dancing scene.  If this sounds familiar, it’s because Bound by Moonlight is a re-release of The Trouble with Moonlight, but by boundbymoonlightstandard[1]mentioning the story here – I can show the cover.  😛  I envision this being available in April/May so stay-tuned for a launch party in the near future.

So how about you?  Can you match a scent to a particular book, or maybe a song?  Do you think scent patches would be a good idea?  What scents would you like?  What sort of innovations would you like to see in books?  Let’s chat!



  • flchen1 says:

    Hmmm… that IS intriguing, Donna! I can’t say that this has occurred to me before, and sometimes I’m a little scent sensitive, so I’m not convinced I’d love such an extra feature! I do think it could be very fun to have songs woven throughout–either ones that inspired the author’s scenes or ones that match the action 😀 And back to the scents–I can think of quite a few scents that I’d rather not experience in the course of a book 🙂 Might put me TOO much in the thick of the action 😀

    • LOL – I thought of that too, Fichen. A little Ode D’ Passion? I think not :). But then I think sound effects would be really cool — as long as they weren’t from the bedroom :).

      One sound effect we don’t need is the rooster squawking his displeasure. Glad that he’s yours for the day 🙂

  • Helen says:


    I have never thought of this either I tend to get a scent in my mind when I am reading especially if the author is describing it and if someone mentions bagpipes (which I love) I can hear them already :). But it is a great thought and I am sure that it will come about one day

    Have Fun

    • Helen –

      WHile including a scene with bagpipes is natural for a book placed in Scotland, I was inspired to write the scene because of something else. My husband and I were out walking through a botanical garden near my home and suddenly heard distant bagpipes. It’s not all that usual to hear their spiritual sound in Columbus Ohio 🙂 Apparently, someone was practicing at a church not far away – but the sound was both a surprise and inspiration. I’d love if I could somehow include that sound in that scene.

  • Amy Conley says:

    Books already have a “scratch-n-sniff” thinhy…you open the book and smell the paper and ink and it is nirvana. E-books should smell like that, to me anyway.
    This is a strange topic since today I was thinking how taking reading material into a certian room in the house, doesn’t make me feel like I’m actually reading, at all. Why? The smell? The actual weight of a paper and ink book vs the kindle? What is it and why doesn’t it satisfy? I think it is a bit of both, but there is something else I just can’t put my finger on and I’ve tried. No, I won’t give up my Kindle, I really do love it. But I will not stop buying paper and ink books either, ever.

    • Amy –

      I agree with you. I even find a hardback more satisfying in the “feel” of a book than a paperback, but most of my fiction books are paperbacks. Part of the problem I have with kindles is there’s no cover to call to me when I put the book down for the night. It’s easy to overlook.

      Before I read the newspaper article about manufacturing scents for commercial use, I read a passage in a piece of fiction that talked about the smell of leather and dust and a hint of mold when in an old library. I think the combination of that awareness in the fiction combined with the newspaper article inspired my idea 🙂

  • Mozette says:

    You know what I’d love to see in books… background music for each suspenseful scene… or a love scene rock ballad… or even a the sad music that goes with the funeral scene to make those scenes really pop – like they do in the movies.

    I think of this because I have music running through my head when I’m writing a book! It’s like having the movie score playing all the way through, and helps the story play along. So, when I read it, the music matches what I’m reading… all they need to do is have you download the music score to the book for free off the net (as you’ve already bought the book, so why charge more?) and then get press play as you start reading with your earplugs in and the music will play along with your book… kinda like it did in the Little Golden Books, but without the magic chimes to turn the page. 😀

    • Mozette – exactly!

      As people read at different speeds I think they’d have to have a button imbedded at the start of a critical scene that would run until the page is turned that signifies the end. I think it would add to the emotion of the scene – just as it does in the movies. 🙂

  • Caren Crane says:

    The scents would be interesting in a book. Not sure I would want someone else to pick those, though, since I am picky about smells. Definitely no alley scents! 🙂

    As for music, that would not enhance my reading experience. Although I adore movie soundtracks and I do see scenes play out movie-like as I read, music distracts me from the written word. So, music is a no. Now, if it were playing as background music for an audiobook, I would love it! Just how my brain works, I suppose.

    I have often wished they had scent-o-vision on Downton Abbey. I would love to smell what’s cooking in the kitchens!

    • Caren –

      Scentovision on Downton Abbey – love it!!

      The beauty of the scratch and sniff/ soundtrack is that you’d get to choose whether you wanted to activate the scent/background music. I envision the sound to be soft – an enhancement to the menal activity – not a replacement as it is with some movies. Not sure I agree with including sound on video books – at least not until they have different voices to play different roles. Sometimes it’s difficult enough to identify the character if there’s insufficient tags when listening. Think Game of Thrones with its huge cast. 🙂

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    In Marie Force’s series The McCarthys of Gansett Island I could go for the smell of a fresh island breeze. What about the sound of police sirens during an action packed car chase or the sound of helicopter blades during a daring rescue? The smell of fresh linens when a character does the laundry. Or that heavenly garlic aroma when dining at an Italian restaurant. I think I could totally get into this and what fun it would be! I agree with Caren, however, that I wouldn’t want music throughout the entire book.

    • you got it, Debbie!

      Yeah – I don’t think I’d want it through the entire book. I especially don’t want smell and sound during the love scenes. I wouldn’t want a fine piece of fiction reduced to sounding like a porn movie :).

      Must admit – I’d love to visit the scent of coconut oil or a soft fresh island breeze right now. I’ve been locked in the “dead of winter” scents for far too long. Come on Spring!

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I accidentally heard music on my Kindle while I was reading once, I have yet to figure out what I did to make it do that so I can’t reproduce the experience and I had no control on which songs to listen to. The point is if I can do it by accident, some great mind somewhere should be able to do it on purpose right?

    There used to be some children’s books that had the whole scratch and sniff thing. My daughter, now 35, had them so again, we know the technology is there.

    • Dianna –

      LOL – I have a scratch and sniff childrens book about Victorian London. It’s filled with the sort of smells you DON”T want to sniff – gas vapors, sewages, etc. The technology is definitely there as it’s in all the magazine that advertise perfume – but I’m guessing it’s expensive. But wouldn’t it be neat.

      Do you read on a Kindle Fire? I think that has the ability to pick up Pandora or maybe handle itunes. Yes – reading with random music playing would be very distracting. Hope you figure it out.

      • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

        No, that was the odd thing, I was reading on my plain first Kindle, no bells or whistles, nothing. That has been months ago now and I still don’t know how I did it and I had to end up restarting my Kindle to get it to quit. Just the right combination of buttons while I was picking it up, but I can’t seem to hit that combo again.

  • sandyg265 says:

    I have allergies to a lot of perfumes so I definitely wouldn’t buy a book with scents in it.

    • Sandy – Hugs. Fortunately, it seems using perfumes for everyday has fallen by the wayside – or maybe my nose isn’t up to par 🙂 . That sort of allergy would make large gatherings pure misery.
      In my imaginary world, though, you’d have a choice. The scent-enhanced books would be more expensive, so you’d be fine as far as your allergies were concerned. 🙂

  • Fichen has the odor of freshly arrived Golden Rooster to deal with. What does that smell like – feathers and Tim Tams?

    I do like the idea of scents with paper books. Especially one for the hero and heroine’s personal colognes.

    My first manuscript opens on a Yorkshire moor and there are so many scents in the first scene that would lend themselves to something like this.

    • Wouldn’t it though? My work in process is set in contemporary New Orleans – lots of great scents (and some not so great) scents there! Or if your her and heroine are sitting by a fire. Wouldn’t the faint (accent on faint on all the scents) scents of smoke aid the scene? Some inventive person will do this in the future, I’m sure.

  • Pissenlit says:

    Mmm…the scent of paper and ink. New dead-tree book smell is good enough for me! 😀 Though I’m sometimes intrigued by book playlists, I usually don’t listen to music while reading.

    I’m pretty sure I read an article a few years ago about scratch and sniff stickers for your ereader that came in various scents like new book smell or musty old leather bound book smell, etc. I can’t remember if they were real or if it was an April Fool’s joke 🙂

    • LOL Pissenlit

      …You know…now that you mention it, I think I recall hearing something similar. I notice the smell of a physical book more with hardcovers. I don’t notice it so much with paperbacks. But I miss the color of the cover and the feel of paperbacks in comparison to a kindle — and page numbers. I definitely miss page numbers.

      I’m thinking maybe more like sound effects or snippets of songs than full on music. I think I’d read my way out of a scene before the song was over if it was a regular song playing. Reading a scene with music that didn’t relate wouldn’t work for me at all.

  • catslady says:

    Authors are so creative!! I would never have thought of that but it’s very intriguing. Flowers or pine or cookies, all sound good. Maybe the sound of the surf and birds – the possibilities are endless! I like the music idea the best – not sure the smells would stay nice for long. But then I like print books better than ebooks lol.

    • Catslady –

      Hadn’t thought about the sustainability of the scents. Interesting observation.

      Maybe the sound element would get you to read ebooks more…something to add extra value to the read.

  • Becke says:


    “Me thinks you read too much!” LOL

    Heavens, no scratch and smell for me. I detest most magazines because they add perfume samples. My nosadar goes crazy. I’m sensitive to smell and not usually in a good way. I do like baked goods. After that, no thank you.

    For the play list, I vote a hardy yes. I can usually tell by the opening background music if I’m going to like the movie or program–usually.

    Book innovation? Hmmm, What sort of innovations would you like to see in books?

    I like that authors list previous titles because I often forget or confuse similar titles. Maybe a blurb for each previous title just as a reminder or as a buy hook.

    I use my Kindle to do that on titles that are a little murky so as an add-on to print books. It could work.

    • You and Sandyg265 have that nose thing going on. 🙂 But I propose that not all versions of the book would have the scent thing – but the ones with scent would cost more to compensate.

      The music at the beginning of a movie tell you so much, doesn’t it? You instantly know if it’s a suspense or a comedy or a drama… I think it could work.

      Most print books have a list of previous titles, but not necessarily blurbs. I tend to go to an author’s website if I find an author I like so as to read the blurbs and maybe the excerpts. But the more opportunities to discover a title the better. As you say – it could work.

  • Cassondra says:

    Donna, what an interesting idea–the scent thing.

    I admit that I don’t think I’d like it, because so many scents affect me in bad ways. I get a sick stomach if I’m around any kind of strong perfume, and walking by the candle store in the mall makes me sick as a dog. Those magazines that sometimes have a “peel and sniff” perfume sample? When I used to carry mail, I had to carry those in the trunk of my car or I’d be sick within the hour.

    There is a narrow range of fragrances that I can use in my home–and none of them are the overly sweet smells. I can do pine, spruce, evergreen, lemon, forest smells, and things like that. But light a “cinnamon bun” candle and I’ll be trying to find a way out.

    I do know that there have been a few efforts to bring about “enhanced” ebooks–with games and characters and stuff you can click on. None has taken off yet, but sometime in the future, I believe someone will hit the right combination at the right time for that stuff to take off…which is all fine AS LONG AS….it’s optional. I don’t want anything forced on me to interrupt the story.

    • Cassondra –

      In my world, you’d have a choice between the books with scents and the books without. My son has a similar problem with scents. He won’t go into a Yankee Candle store for love or money. He says he can’t breathe in there. Sounds like you two have that in common.

  • Donna, perfumes make me sneeze, but I’m all in favor of adding food scents. Forest scents would be nice, too, and sound effects that reflect the setting, be they natural sounds or music.