A piece about copying books via magic in Ars Magica (Fifth Edition):
Books are surprisingly difficult to copy by magic. A magus has to cast several spells, replicating the work of several craftsmen.
Assuming an ample supply of ink, parchment, and wooden bindings are available the magus would proceed first to replicate the main work, scribing the book. This requires affecting a stack of parchment sheets (Rego Animal), with an Aquam requisite to affect the inks. Following the guidelines laid down in Covenants (p. 49) and Societas (p. 60), this requires the spell
The Prolific Scribe, R: Voice, D: Mom, T: Group; Rego Animal (Requisite: Aquam) 10
This spell instantly scribes a copy of a book the caster is holding. Materials (parchment and ink) must be in voice range. The caster must succeed at an Intelligence + Finesse roll of 15 to successfully copy the book; otherwise, the piece is in gibberish. A roll of 21+ will allow a +1 to craftsmanship due to superior scribing.
For purposes of copying, the spell is the equivalent of a semi-professional scribe - copying up to 8 levels of summa (or one tractatus) per casting.
(Base 1 [Covenants p. 50], +2 Voice, +2 Group, +1 requisite; Base ease factor is 9 [â€œdaily work of semi-skilled artistsâ€, Societas p. 61] to 15 (Hard), +6 for a seasonâ€™s work.)
An identical but separate spell (The Prolific Illuminator) must then be cast to reproduce the work of an illuminator. A single spell might suffice for both scribing and illumination, the RAW is a little unclear.
Once written, the book needs to be bound (Binding the Mundane Codex, ReAn 5, Covenants p. 97 â€“ probably using an Herbam casting requisite), requiring an Intelligence + Finesse roll of 12+. The use of resonant materials (relatively common for Hermetic books) is far more difficult (ReAn 20, see Covenants p. 97), requiring yet another Intelligence + Finesse roll of 15+ (or higher).
Lack of processed raw materials can be overcome by magic too. Hide to Parchment (ReAn 10, Covenants p. 96) can prepare parchment from animal hides, with a successful Perception + Finesse roll. Inks are typically made from Herbam, although Animal components are common and some (especially the high-quality) inks contain Terram components as well. It is usually fairly easy and fast to prepare such inks from local materials, or purchase them on the market, so magic isnâ€™t used. If the magus is in a hurry, however, he may desire to avail himself of the following spell:
The Illuminatorâ€™s Bread, R: Touch, D: Mom, T: Group; ReTe 15
This spell brews ink from raw materials. Usually metal and glass tools are used in conjunction with this spell, allowing the magus to brew any type of ink he is familiar with. If these arenâ€™t available, casting requisites (He and/or An) are likely necessary. To succeed in brewing the ink, the caster needs to make an Intelligence + Finesse roll of 9+.
(Base 4, +1 Touch, +2 Group. Ease factor 9 [semi-skilled artisans].)
Preparing binding is even more difficult.
A Spell for Binding Boards, ReHe 10
The caster touches a piece of wood (unprepared timber), which is magically processed and transformed into proper binding boards for a book. This requires an Intelligence + Finesse roll of 9+.
(Base 5, +1 Touch)
If the caster lacks any raw materials, raw vis might serve as a substitute for the truly desperate. The Apple That Etches (CrHe 20 Ritual, Covenants p. 96) can provide raw materials for black ink, for example; similar spells can create ink of other colors, or raw materials for other needs. It is generally better to create natural raw materials and then process them through magical or mundane means rather than to create the desired inks, parchment, or bindings directly. For the truly desperate, here are a few relevant spells.
Uterine Vellum, CrAn 20
This spell creates a large stack of parchment, enough for several books [technically, up to the mass of en elephantâ€¦]. The quality of the parchment is determined by an Intelligence + Finesse roll (9+, 12+ required for high-quality).
(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Group)
The Huntâ€™s Rewards, CrAn 20 Ritual
This spell creates a large stack of hide, enough for several books [technically, up the mass of an elephantâ€¦]. The hide is usually of calves, providing excellent source material for vellum (the finest quality parchment).
(Base 5, +1 Touch, +2 Group)
Conjured Binding Boards, CrHe 20 Ritual
This spell creates two matching boards to be used to bind a book. [It can be used to create many more boards, in principle. Craft/Finesse checks not required by fiat.]
(Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Group, +1 treated)
Timber Without Forest, CrHe 20 Ritual
This spell creates a large amount of timber. The caster may choose to create planks of wood or logs. The pile creates is about 20 paces in each dimension.
(Base 2, +1 Touch, +2 Group, +3 size. Finesse assumed to not be required.)
The Colored Ink, CrAq 20 Ritual
The caster touches a container, which is filled with ink of the casterâ€™s choosing. The spell can produce up to 20 paces across and 12 paces deep (approximately 5000 cubic meters, 135000 cubic feet).
(Base 2, +1 touch, +1 slightly unnatural, +4 size. Finesse roll skipped as itâ€™s very easy, ands inks are nearly natural.)
Creation of the Alexandriaâ€™s Golden Treasures, CrAn(Im) 20 Ritual
This spell simply duplicates the book the caster is touching. Ink isnâ€™t copied directly â€“ instead, color is infused into the parchment, mimicking the effects of iron-gall and similar inks. The produced colors are rather dull, however they provide an excellent template for a skilled illuminator to improve on. A faithful reconstruction requires a Perception + Finesse roll of 15+ (a roll of 21+ is required to replicate the fine details of superior scribing or illumination); a roll of 14 or less results in gibberish.
If the book is has wooden bindings or incorporates other materials, casting requisites might be necessary.
A version with Target: Group (level 30) is also available, allowing the duplication of multiple books at once (up to about 40 or so â€“ but they need to be arranged in a single pile).
(Base 5, +1 Touch, +1 treated, +1 requisite)
As can be seen, the magical copying of books is hardly efficient. Even under the best conditions, the magus needs to cast two spells (ReAn(Aq) 10), making two EF 15 Finesse checks. (Binding can be accomplished later, through mundane means.) The high Finesse requirements alone can deter most magi. More and more magic can be used in less optimal conditions or to accelerate the process, culminating in casting a Ritual spell to duplicate the book â€“ at great costs. Instead of wasting effort and raw materials on magically copying books, magi are far more likely to copy works themselves or through mundane scribes.