Books are widely available in Tamriel, to the point where commoners will have them in their houses. This says to me that there's printing involved somewhere (apparently there are hints that the Miner Hireling invents Gutenberg-style movable type
in ESO), but we have a whole variety of books that survive from ESO's time (2E 582) until Morrowind (3E 427). That's a lot of books that somehow remain relevant and read by most of the reading populous for 641 years.
I can understand that for holy texts like the 36 Lessons of Vivec or something, but when it includes reams of fiction (like the 2920 series or Chance's Folly), I have to wonder what on earth is going on with Tamriel's intellectual culture. I know the real world explanation is that the ES devs aren't able to write entire cultures worth of books for each game, but I'm wondering if it has lore implications.
Are we to assume that the majority of literature that is read is like something similar to Gibbons' History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
(first published 1776, but still a common enough work)? If that's the case, then what on earth are the centres of learning doing? To produce so few additional texts strikes me as a culture that relies heavily on prior knowledge, without even trying to come up with more. In some cases, that could make sense (like in medicine, where Galen's work remained the core textbooks for thousands of years), but it gets downright weird for non-academic writing. To use yet more analogy, it's like saying that the seven Harry Potter books carry on being read and printed, but no one else tries to write books about witches and wizards for centuries after Rowling.
There is the other assumption that there are lots of works that we don't see, which I think is true to an extent (this is already strongly implied in instances like the Response to Bero's Speech, but not the Speech itself), but is this the whole answer? If not, what sort of an intellectual and publishing life does Tamriel have that's different to our own?
Host of the Written in Uncertainty podcast
, and regular participant in the Selectives Lorecast
Officer of the PC-EU chapter of the Loreseekers guild