Saturday, June 10, 2006

Book Prices in Dungeons & Dragons

Brad DeLong has posted an article about the rules put into place when the University of Naples was established in 1224.

Students at the university had to use their books as collateral, it seems, and if they didn't pay off their debt before they left, the books would have to stay with the university.

Professor DeLong goes on to mention:

Back in the thirteenth century, a book copy sold for the same share of national product that $14,000 is today.

Just prior to that:

At the end of the fifteenth century, a book copy sold for the same share of national productivity that $1400 is today--the equivalent relative expense to this laptop I am typing on.

The ten-fold drop in price is largely due, of course, to Gutenberg.

I always thought that putting fantasy-era RPG prices in dollar equivalents, or at least having dollar equivalents floating around, would do a great job putting things in perspective.

2 comments:

Alan Kellogg said...

Would make libraries very popular with adventurers. :)

Then again, with spells such as Copy available prices may well come down.

"Master Godwill, as a sponsored student here at university you are required to work part time to pay off your debt. Our antiquities department is seeing more wear in our older texts, so your first assignment will be to Copy at least one book per day. More as your spell casting becomes more capable."

Steve Peterson said...

Actually, the copying of texts like that would make a lot of sense -- and using grad students to do the work is exactly right. : )

Be kind of cool in a more low magic campaign like Conan to actually have a tomb raid where you were just going after the priceless, though perhaps mostly mundane, book collection.