Dealing with Show-Through: The dark paper trick illustrated by Nanami Paper

I've mentioned Nanami Paper before when writing about the thin Tomoe River paper I like to use when inserting note pages into a Bible, and now I'd like to point you to the site for a lucid demonstration of an old trick for dealing with thin paper and "show-through." Since Dave at Nanami sells a lot of notepads and bound books that use thin paper, he's familiar with the show-through dilemma and has written a step-by-step explanation of the problem and how to solve it by placing a sheet of dark paper behind your page. Look at the difference: before_after_nanami

This works with handwritten pages like the ones in the photo, and with the printed pages in your Bible, too. Click through and read Dave's entire post:

"Thin Paper Show-Through" at Nanami Paper

There are a couple of points I'd like to highlight. First, you'll notice that even a highly coveted, cult-status paper like Tomoe River suffers from show-through. The reason fountain pen users love this paper is that it shows off the properties of their ink to best effect (if you love shading inks, you'll love this paper). Even a wet, broad nib will not bleed through the page. Try that with your Moleskine. Second, this ought to call into question an assumption we often make -- namely that show-through is the result of publishers using "bad paper." Tomoe River isn't bad paper, it's great paper. But it does have show-through because, hey, it's quite thin.

If your ambition as far as Bibles go is to have minimal show-through, then you're not after good paper per se, you're after opaque paper -- which might be expensive, but might also be cheap. Thickness is a major factor, so ironically, with more expensive thin papers, you might actually be paying more money for less opacity. The trade-off is, you get a thinner book.

For example, I've been using one of Dave's brilliant Seven Seas Tomoe River A5 Journals (I'll write more about this on my other blog at some point), and while I get a lot of show-through writing on both pages, I absolutely love the paper's ink-handling characteristics and the fact that I get so many pages -- 480 -- in such a handy form factor. That's the same trade-off we face with our Bibles, and they require quite a few more pages.

Now I would love for someone to figure out the secret of super thin, 100% opaque paper, and I'm not suggesting that we take the pressure off publishers to do better in terms of opacity. Just recognize that the issue is complex, there are interim solutions, and "good" paper isn't the issue -- opaque paper is.