I was recently perusing through Morris Adler's The World of the Talmud and came upon the comment. It really does put my memorization efforts to shame.
"The process of writing text in Rabbinic times was both a difficult and costly process. Few could own copies, even of Scriptures. Rabbi Meir once came to a Jewish community in Asia Minor and could not find a single copy of the Scroll of Esther. Being a scribe by profession and a scholar by advocation, he was able to write on from memory" (The World of the Talmud. 2nd ed. [New York: Schocken, 1963], 33).