this is actually the thing that bothers me the most about the DA setting
DOES A SOCIETY CANONICALLY MIRED IN A PRE-RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGICAL, AGRICULTURAL AND INFRASTRUCTURAL STASIS DUE TO MAGIC
PRODUCE SO MANY EFFIN’ HUGE TOMES AND BITS OF PAPER EPHEMERA? i mean holy shit even penniless elves have multiple books that would be astronomically expensive to produce. I don’t think they have presses, either, since there’s mention of “poorly copied leaflets” in a quest instead of “poorly printed”. I guess the answer here, like the reason why they’re stuck in the middle ages in the first place, is also magic.
..and I guess it says more about me then the game that THAT’s my biggest hang up when it comes to DA’s worldbuilding continuity.
In a world of magic being a carefully controlled factor in most Chantry-influenced countries,
I want to believe that perhaps a less-glamourous role that Circle Magis fulfil is working as scribes. They can enchant quills to magically follow every stroke the scribe-mage makes, so a scribe-mage can possibly copy dozens of books at once with an army of enchanted quills and piles of fresh leaflets. Apprentices are stuck with the task of book-binding and keeping pages in the right order. The Circle then ships these copies out to book-dealers.
My second suggestion is that the dwarves would certainly have mastered the printing press. At the very least, they write stuff into stone, right? If they make the effort to write in relief (where the letters pop out of the stone, rather carved into it) they can make copies of the stone original with printing press techniques.
So a benefit of dwarves trading with the surfacers: spreading their printing technology to the rest of Thedas.