Can a character learn spells from someone else's spellbook and then sell it?

The character is a 3rd level Warlock - spellcaster - and he decided to visit a library in the town they're currently staying at to find spellbooks or scrolls. I had him roll a die to determine what spells he would find. He rolled a 20 and simply to annoy him a little (We are friends, so it's fine) I gave him a 9th-level spell.

At the time, I had no idea that 9th-level spells can cost up to 50 thousand gold pieces, and I also didn't think that it was that big of a deal. In a nutshell, the character sold the book for 40 thousand gold pieces, but before he did it, he copied the spell into his own spellbook.

The money isn't that big of a deal as the campaign won't change drastically, but my concern is whether a character can copy a spell they find in their own spellbook and then get rid of the source.

Note: This is my first time DMing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting library. Mine frowns upon me selling books that I borrowed from them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 9:07

1 Answer 1


Sources of copied spellbooks can be sold at your leisure.

Only wizards have the class feature to copy spells into their spellbooks. Your Warlock friend can't copy spells into spellbooks and uses an altogether different form of spellcasting, that is Pact Magic, granted by their otherworldly patron which is detailed in the PHB (107).

How it works for wizards:

A wizard gains access to 9th-level spell slots at 17th wizard-class-level (PHB 113). If he is not at least a 17th-level wizard, he cannot copy the spell into his spellbook because his level doesn't grant him access to a 9th-level spell slot.

Your Spellbook (PHB 114)

Copying a Spell into the Book. When you find a wizard spell of 1st level or higher, you can add it to your spellbook if it is of a level for which you have spell slots and if you can spare the time to decipher and copy it.

Copying a spell into your spellbook involves reproducing the basic form of the spell, then deciphering the unique system of notation used by the wizard who wrote it. You must practice the spell until you understand the sounds or gestures required, then transcribe it into your spellbook using your own notation.

Replacing the Book. You can copy a spell from your own spellbook into another book—for example, if you want to make a backup copy of your spellbook. This is just like copying a new spell into your spellbook, but faster and easier, since you understand your own notation and already know how to cast the spell. If you lose your spellbook, you can use the same procedure to transcribe the spells that you have prepared into a new spellbook.

Copying a spell into your spellbook reproduces the spell and actively transcribes it in your spellbook into your style of notations which is unique to you. Your copies are all based on your unique system, and that unique system is required for you to prepare spells from your spellbook (PHB 114).

You can make these back-up copies and sell them or their source at your leisure. You do not require the source after you copied them. If you lose your spellbook, you can even transcribe your spells into a new book as long as you have them currently prepared.

Also read: What are the requirements for a wizard to successfully copy a spell from a scroll into their spellbook?

Also read: How can a warlock learn from a spellbook?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wow, thanks a lot! The character is a warlock so I will have him remove those spells from his list. I should've read more carefully. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 11:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that Pact of the Tome warlocks can pick the Book of Ancient Secrets invocation when they pick Pact of the Tome, which lets them copy ritual spells only from any class - that they find in written form - into their Book of Shadows and cast them only as rituals. (In contrast, wizards can copy any spell on the wizard spell list - that they find in written form - into their spellbook, and prepare/cast it normally like any of their other wizard spells.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jun 16, 2019 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast I added a link to my answer on how "How can a warlock learn from a spellbook?" \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 9:05

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