|Interesting post today by Brad DeLong on the relative value of books in the 18th century, late 15th century, and early 13th century. When the University of Naples was established in 1224, books functioned as collateral for student loans, which of course only makes sense if the economic value of books is quite high:|
There will be loans given to students, based on their needs, by those who are designated to do so, with their books pawned as collateral, which books will be temporarily returned to the student after receiving appropriate guarantees from other students. The student will not leave the city until he has paid back his debt, or has given back the pawned books returned to him temporarily. Such pawns will not be requested by the creditor as long as the student remains in school...DeLong estimates that "back in the thirteenth century, a book copy sold for the same share of national product that $14,000 is today." That's the equivalent of about four 50" plasma, high-definition televisions today. Not even Cambridge UP's prices are that high.