Books do not die: the price of information, Human Capital and the Black Death in the long fourteenth century
The overall price trend of late-medieval hand-written books was downwards, despite rising demand by a more literate population, causing upward pressure on prices. Gradually, higher writing speeds reduced late-medieval book prices. A lower price of information facilitated schooling and an increase in human capital. The plague’s demographic shock (1348-1351) reduced used book prices to one half or two-thirds of their pre-plague levels, while production costs of new books then rose. Cheaper access to information (used books) in combination with other post-plague trend breaks gave human capital in the Latin West a boost, and laid a foundation for modern economic growth.