How many calories are in a 500-page paperback book?Tyler Newcomb:

My goal in this answer is to make Dave Consiglio proud! We’ll see how that goes…

Let’s crunch some numbers, shall we?

First of all, I want to preface this by saying that a 500-page paperback book can be many different sizes.

  • What is the density of the paper?
  • What size are the pages?
  • Is it recycled paper?
  • Is it coated in something to make it water resistant?
  • How thick are the pages?
  • What is the paper made of? Is it wood? Eucalyptus? Papyrus?

With that being said, let’s get into some number crunching!

FIRST THINGS FIRST

First of all, let’s find the mass of the book, and for simplicity’s sake we will assume that the book is blank paper with 500 identical pages.

The average size of a book is 6 inches by 9 inches, which is about 15 by 23 centimeters for our purposes. Again, I’m rounding to make things easier on all of us. By this measurement we get an area of about 345 centimeters.

For paper thickness, I am going to use 0.08 millimeters, or 0.008 centimeters. This gets us a volume (V = l x w x h) or 2.76 cm3 per piece of paper.

When we multiply this by 500, for the number of pieces, we get a total volume of 1380 cubic centimeters, which is a nice, round number to use for volume.

CALCULATING MASS

Next, we will use the volume and the density to calculate mass.

The density of paper is about 1.2 grams per cubic centimeter. The formula for mass is density = mass/volume, which reworks to be mass = density x volume.

By plugging in numbers, we get mass = 1.2g/cm3 x 1380 cm3. When we solve this, we get a mass of 1656 grams.

WHAT WE KNOW

We know that the mass of our book is about 1660 grams, and our density is 1.2g/cm3. From now on, we will only need our mass.

The specific heat of paper is 1.34J/g, and since we have 1660 grams of mass of paper, we can multiply the two, to get 2225 joules.

One joule is equal to 0.000239006 food calories (or kilocalories), which is what I assume you are interested in. Therefore, we can multiply our value in joules by 0.000239006 to get our energy in calories.

The result is that a 500-page paperback book has about 0.53 calories.

That’s it. A book has a little more than half a food calorie. For the record: I spent much more energy answering this question than I would have gotten from a book.

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