Dear Sir or Madam,

As my Islamic Humanities exam draws near and my nose finds itself buried deeper in your illustrated history than at any time previous, I feel the need to write you a few lines about said tome. I’m enamored of the content of your illustrated history of the Islamic world. Beautiful prose, informative insets, and interesting illustrations abound. I also appreciate your decision to create a cheaper paperback version for starving college students such as myself. I have but one issue with the book: Its smell.

My nose, buried, cannot help but report a strong petrochemical odor coming from the book’s binding. This is not the pleasing smell of a new book, nor is it the musty scent of an old one. It is something far more sinister. Its bouquet is 60 percent hospital and 30 percent burnt plastic, with hints of diesel and an afterthought of rotten lemon. It conjures up bad childhood memories and worse ones of an awkward adolescence. Its ultimate effect is to discourage study and promote idle letter-writing to publishers who have better things to do.

I demand no action. I will sleep soundly regardless of your disposition. You will not be hearing from my lawyers. I wish merely to register my dissatisfaction with your decision to hire a bookbinder who, surely due to some childhood accident (possibly involving a bottle rocket), is without a sense of smell. I remain, as ever,

Your loyal customer,
Benjamin Cocchiaro