Sound Summae unrealistic?

Well, in the early medieval period, there's no Order of Hermes, so we are only interested in the 9th to 13th centuries; and particularly in the 11th, 12th and 13th, since it's a bit fuzzy how large and organized the Order was, and what it needed in terms of books, in e.g. 875 AD.

You say "few books were produced". The problem is that you do not quantify "few", just as you later say "huge" and "mass production" and "on the edge of collapse" and "geomatric growth" without really attaching any quantitative meaning to those words.

Let me be "quantitative". During the (historical) 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries the area corresponding to "Mythic Europe" (which includes e.g. the Levant and North Africa) produced significantly more books than it makes any sense for the Order to have in its libraries. At least half a million in the 11th century, possibly as much as a million. More than a million during the 12th. Probably more than two millions during the 13th. And the Order, at the very most, needs one or two hundred thousand books in its libraries, with a few dozen thousand being more realistic (I can justify that in a separate post if you do not believe it, but note that the upper bound amounts to 100-150 books in existence per magus).

Similarly, your understanding of the economics behind a tragedy of the commons effect is flawed. The fundamental flaw in your reasoning is to assume that the availability of books to copy would remain the same or increase without copyright -- so that would-be copiers would make even more copies! But it's the other way round. Not having copyright, you would have less incentive to create/disseminate, because you would be able to profit only from the initial "harvest" rather than from all subsequent ones, so there would be fewer books produced and disseminated, and less incentive for anyone receiving a copy to disseminate it further.

Again, this requires a bit more math crunching that I believe most forum members are interested in, but if there is enough interest (and no one else takes up the task -- anyone with basic economic grounding shoild be able to do it) I'll open up a new thread on it. You may, or may not, want to dabble with the economic models for books in the Order (and Mythic Europe). This depends on your gaming tastes. But the models "baked in" ArM5 are much better than a lot of people assume they are.

3 Likes

Fist of all the tragedy of the commons is something I'm very familiar with- this is high school economics which I first covered over 30 years ago, and you throwing it out to stand on its own in such an inappropriate situation is making a mockery of yourself- the tragedy of the commons refers to overuse of community property since supposedly nobody feels the need to conserve what they do not own. Aside from being inappropriate to a conversation about book production it is also, as turns out, historically inaccurate, an argument that was published without the facts being checked and it turns out that the commons never suffered the economic tragedy assigned to them because first the rights of the commons were well defined and constrained and secondly the small communities in which they existed were very protective of community property, and the behaviors and attitudes presented in the argument were assumed by the economist which published them.
Second geometric growth is a well defined mathematical concept, where the rate of growth is defined to be a portion of the existing supply of a resource as opposed to being dependent on external factors- animals for example have geometric growth since a set portion of the animal population will produce babies and the total number of babies will increase as the base population increases. This opposed to linear growth such as the output of a factory or workshop which will remain consistent regardless of how many of an object are in existence assuming there exists a constant flow of materials (and demand).
I would indeed be very interested in your source of information on medieval book publication rates, considering you have positively demonstrated your ignorance of both math and economics thus far, and look forward to seeing what you present. However your assertion that there would be a finite demand for books within the order ignores several issues regarding potential growth utilizing tractatus as well as related publications of breakthroughs, potentially sharing lab texts and other uses for disseminated written word which has no upper bound, especially with a redcap network to provide a transportation network for correspondence far in excess of what the standard capabilities of the period would allow.

1 Like

Well that puts things in context quite nicely. But for another argument, we can ask whether the ~130 covenants of the Order have more scribal power than the thousands of monasteries who were actively copying historical books. Individually, they're unlikely to have more fulltime scribes, and being outnumbered, its hard to see how they'd outweigh the monasteries as a source of production, even if they turned their efforts to mundane books rather than magical ones.

(Assuming no-one makes a magical photocopier / printing press, of course. But if they do, that's Story, and we can all go read Transforming Mythic Europe for the consequences).

But say a bunch of PCs devotes their covenant resources to set themselves up as a copy-shop, with full-time, Magic Theory-trained scribes, excellent illuminators and bookbinders, and starts churning out the magic books for sale or to give away. That's called Story, or just an income or vis source, depending on the level of interest the players have in it and what they're copying. It doesn't hugely change the Order, and I'm surprised there isn't a Covenant in one of the tribunal books already doing it (the Redcaps have to get those mail-order primers from somewhere).

2 Likes

If you do not count the regular procurement trips into town as interaction with mundane society, I am sure you can make some recruitement trips too, with or without Mentem magic, to get your specialist, when you occasiomally fail to train your own. Specialists do not necessarily make you interact with mundane society any more than all other trade does.

You make an excellent and interesting analysis of numbers, but this quoted part is just too naïve. For two reasons.

Firstly, scholars do not write books to earn the profit. If they did, almost no scientific book would ever have been written. They write books because it looks good on their CV, or make a reputation to stick with ArM mechanics.

Secondly, the original author has a significant edge in the market. You write a tractatus, one original copy at Q14 if you are an excellent author. Then you have your trusted scribe create three copies, at Q13 which you sell. Anyone can make copies, but they will either take three times the time to make, or be of inferior quality.

I seriously doubt the order would any fewer or more books with or without copyright.

Obvious question for the historians: did any C13th authors write for profit in a way that we would recognise? I doubt it, and it seems like a ludicrous idea in a world where everything had to be copied by hand, and most authors were churchmen with supported lives. So the idea that magi (who also have supported lives) would do it seems grossly anachronistic. You write because you have something important to say, not for the vis.

But also: Cow and Calf isn't copyright, and viewing it that way is another anachronism.

cow and calf- the version in ars magica, is itself an anachronism, derived from modern copyright law,

1 Like

... although the necessary fix to bring it in line with the historical version of Cow and Calf (as quoted previously in the thread I think) is very minor ...

The Prices for Books section in [Cov] is not about sale and purchase. Those prices are for (say) a 70-year lease of the book. And just as the calf belongs to the cow, the copy belongs to the original.

The books paid for by BP in covenant creation, much more dearly in relative terms, have been bought to own. This is the reason why the BP cost is higher. The books are owned for eternity and copies may be made.

no
sales are sales, not leases
and the historical cow and calf was about a literal cow and calf

I said it was a change, but a minor one as far as the narrative is concerned.
For instance, the difference between a freehold and a leasehold is so minor that many property buyers do not notice the difference and do not care. It has not even affected the price much up until recently, in Norway at least.

The analogy to book and copy is also historical:

2 Likes

Norway must be a wonderfully naïve place where people pay the same amount to lease a property that they would to own it. here in the US such a thing is inconceivable.

Maybe. But the same case is made in canon ArM too, that magic items with 70 year expire will be very satisfactory to normal people. People, in general, do not care very much about what happens 70 years into the future.

First of all, it specifies normal people, not magi, and also it indicates that it is nearly the same, not exactly the same: that they will trade a magic item with a less desired effect and unlimited duration for one with a 70 year expiry and a more desirable effect, not be willing to pay the same for an expiring and durable enchantment.

Make it 700 years then. Or 7000. The longer the lease, the more negligible is the disadvantage compared to owning.

Hi,

Re, number of books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:European_Output_of_Manuscripts_500–1500.png

As for 'realism', almost nothing about AM books and libraries is realistic. Yes, summae were written in the 13th century, but many of the real-life works listed in A&A as summae are not actually summae at all. Tractatuseses? Same.

Most books are neither, especially before the 12th century.

The mechanics associated with tractatuseses and summae also do not correspond well to how many of the real-world books were used. I see them as game constructs, pure and simple.

So sound summae in the AM sense are unrealistic, and unsound summae are unrealistic, as are green summae and blue summae....

Anyway,

Ken

1 Like

Hi,

It happens here too, especially in Hawaii. It's hard to determine that it's the same amount, but ownership is not always possible.

Anyway,

Ken

so from that graph it looks like roughly 2,000 per year for the 11th century to 8,000 per year for the 12th, and according t the graph a total of 200,000 in the 11th century, not half a million.
now, if we assume 150 books per magus, that is for a 150 year lifespan slightly over a book a year for them to read- slightly over because they aren't born reading. I would think twice that would be far more likely, since many magi will be older than that even as there is some turnover amongst the younger magi getting themselves killed. This is aside from vain books and rejected volumes which may well be written and copied as fads and then sit on a bookshelf unused for a time before being recycled into new books. So yes, I think it is fair to say that the order would greatly increase the production of books in the middle ages. Also note that many consider the 14th century to be part of the renaissance rather than the middle ages.

As a side note to this, I would be more interested to know how the hypothetical level 41 summae can occur. Back when I've read "Covenants" it seemed to me that the advanced level would be based solely on quality, so a book L20/Q21. But that is so over the top from L17 that it just doesn't make much sense I guess.

Where does this leave us? A book L24/Q17 as the supposed "hermetic maximum"? And why that number exactly? Maybe that is the number occurred when an affinity is applied to a level forty Art? I haven't done the calculations but it seems to me about right. Hm...

What do you mean?

To write your L24Q17 book he only needs to start with Com +5 and good teacher, and reach an art score of 54, which takes 1485xp. Gaining 10xp/season on average, this only takes a little more than 37 years, not that much for a magus who really wants nothing else out of his life. In fact, if he wants absolutely nothing else, he can go much further, and likely do L40Q14.

No, I don't think such a monomaniac has ever lived for every art, but maybe for one or two.

No, you didn't understand me @loke, I was referring to the theoretical maximum level which was level 40 in the Arts - ergo L20 books as the maximum in the Core book. But when you apply an affinity to that Art level you get exactly a level 49 Art/2 = L24 Book +17Q maximum for a theoretically "perfect" Hermetic zenith L24/Q17 Summae.