Much of the recent debate in early modern European labor and economic history has centered on Jan de Vries’s concept of the industrious revolution. Briefly, he claimed that workers during the period 1650-1800 chose to labor longer hours, often at greater intensity, in order to consume novel manufactured goods and imported commodities. Moreover, plebeian families increasingly pursued new employments beyond the household to pay for these objects. As a result, men, women, and children spent ever more hours in waged labor, and their growing purchasing power proved decisive in stimulating large-scale European industrialization. My work on the history of French and English papermaking raises fundamental challenges to this model. First, paperworkers already labored exhausting hours at the outset of de Vries’s period of newfound industriousness. Second, masters and workers alike knew that they had to both “speed up” and “take their time” to turn out quality paper at the expected rate. Third, women and adolescent workers toiled for wages in paper mills long before the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On the eve of large-scale mechanization, enduring shopfloor realities, skills, and quotas prevented a surge of productivity beyond papermaking’s familiar standards. With the demand for paper rising rapidly, it was the absence of an industrious revolution in papermaking that turned the manufacturers’ attention first to enlarged mills and small technological shifts, and finally, to the development of a papermaking machine.