AtlasObscura recently posted a fascinating article on “book curses.” Before the advent of the printing press, every book was written out word by word, letter by letter by hand. If you wanted a copy of a book someone had to copy it out by hand. It was time consuming and expensive. So to protect the investment of labor (the scribe’s) and money (the owner), the front or back of a book would often be inscribed with as terrifying a curse upon thieves or defacers as possible. In modern times Marc Drogin collected and published a compendium of such curses in Anathema! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses. Lazy magicians can purpose, copy and paste. Read AO’s story here:
thanks to Soror Hypatia for the tip!