There are many stories whose plot involves an object compelling its owner to use it. If the object were something like a sword you would likely have either a horror story or murder mystery. I often think this is very true for tools. Once you have a hammer everything starts to look like a nail and nails exist to be hammered. As I own a variety of tools I occasionally find novel uses for them. This weekend it was the micrometer I heard calling. As this is a measuring instrument I needed something to measure. I decided this would be paper.
There is much paper at the Barnes and Noble so there I headed early on a Saturday morning to measure their great stocks of it. The looks from both patrons and clerks was interesting. I enjoyed trying to imaging what they thought I was doing especially as they likely had never seen a micrometer before.
I had thought there would be a great variety in the thicknesses of the paper between volumes but was surprised to discover there was not. Conventional paperback novels are basically low resolution ink holders made of natural fiber paper and came in at 4 thou (four thousandths of an inch or .004”) with exceptional examples as low as 3.5 thou or as high as 5 thou. Black and white graphic novels are thicker with an average thickness of 6 thou. Color content seems to be mostly printed on glossier paper using synthetic fibers to achieve a higher resolution with better color fidelity and averaged around 3 thou. Black and white content printed on synthetic media also tended to average around 3 thou.
Larger format items such as color how to guides or coffee table books were more varied. Almost all are full color and ranged from 3 thou to 5.8 thou in thickness.
In hindsight I suppose this is not surprising to find the thickness of the paper tied to its application. Keeping standards for paper thickness also allows manufacturers of printing equipment to make reasonable assumptions about what their systems must accept.  

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