To be filed under Things That Will Definitely Save The Publishing Industry, No Questions Asked: stern-sounding independent publishing house Steidl is now selling Paper Passion, a perfume ‘for booklovers’ that attempts to replicate the smell of of a book and then convince you that that is something you want to squirt on your neck before, say, a first date or a job interview. Presumably, there are quite a few Patrick Süskind fans at Steidl.
Concocted by the eponymous Gerhard Steidl in collaboration with ‘master perfumer’ Geza Schoen and Wallpaper* magazine (asterisk neither a typo nor anchored to a footnote), the fragrance comes nestled, naturally, inside packaging shaped like a hollowed-out book, co-designed by Steidl and – who else? – Karl Lagerfeld. Said packaging bears assorted texts by Lagerfeld, Schoen, Wallpaper* (asterisk still not a typo) editor Tony Chambers and, weirdly – he says as if anything about this is normal – Nobel Prize winner and current persona non grata in Israel Günter Grass.
Sayeth Steidl: ‘Gerhard Steidl was first alerted to the importance of the smell of a book by Karl Lagerfeld, prompting a passion for paper and the composition of a scent on the pages of a book. To Wallpaper* magazine the pairing of the publisher with the perfumer seemed a natural partnership and so the idea for Paper Passion was born.’ You know, Gerhard and Karl, jus’ chillin’, talking about the smell of books, probably bound in tanned leather.
The blurb continues: ‘This is an opportunity to celebrate all the gloriosensuality of books, at a time when many in the industry are turning against them. The idea is that is should relax you, like when you read a book, to a level of meditation and concentration. Paper Passion has evolved into something quite beautiful and unique. To wear the smell of a book is something very chic. Books are players in the intellectual world, but also in the world of luxury.’
See? ‘Gloriosensuality’. It’s not even a real book and it’s still expanding your vocabulary with made up words, just like Shakespeare. Schoen has the last word, saying ‘It might be quirky, but the idea has a simplicity, a linearity.’ Yes, and anyone who wants that library-fresh smell to follow them home can do so for a simple, linear £68 a bottle. Or, y’know, maybe just rub a book up and down your face for a while.