Electronic books with musty book smell launched

NEW YORK Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:20am EDT

A screenshot of CafeScribe.com, taken on August 22, 2007. The electronic textbook Web site is launching a smelly e-book after finding college students like to be able to smell their books. REUTERS/www.cafescribe.com

A screenshot of CafeScribe.com, taken on August 22, 2007. The electronic textbook Web site is launching a smelly e-book after finding college students like to be able to smell their books.

Credit: Reuters/www.cafescribe.com

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - An electronic textbook Web site is launching a smelly e-book after finding college students like to be able to smell their books.

A survey of 600 college students conducted by pollster Zogby International found that 43 percent of students identified smell, either a new or old smell, as the quality they most liked about books as physical objects.

Six out of 10 students also preferred buying used textbooks over new or electronic textbooks even though e-books are generally a third less expensive. E-books sales have been slow to take off.

In an attempt to persuade college students to try e-textbooks, Web site CafeScribe.com (cafescribe.com on Wednesday said it was launching "the world's first smelly e-book."

CafeScribe Chief Executive Bryce Johnson said that from September the company will send every e-textbook purchaser a scratch and sniff sticker with a musty "old book" smell.

The survey, conducted between August 15 and 21, found three out of 10 of students associated "mustiness" with the books they most loved, although 16 percent associated best-loved books with the smell of "freshly-ground coffee."

"By placing these stickers on their computers they can give their e-books the same musty book smell they know and love from used textbooks -- without any of the residual DNA you often find stuck to the pages of used textbooks," Johnson said in a statement.

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