The Demise of Calligraphy (according to one Edinburgh Bookstore)
October 12, 2012 8 Comments
While visiting Edinburgh a few days ago, I entered a large high street bookstore to check if there were any new calligraphy books on offer. In the Craft section I found a sign that stated, “Craft books displayed alphabetically,” so I searched along the spines in the general direction of “C”.
Books on Basket Weaving, Beads, Bookmarks, and Buttons were all present and correct. As were Candles, Ceramics, Collage, Crochet, and Cross Stitch. But there was an obvious omission.
I considered that the books on calligraphy must have been misplaced, so I went back to “A” and carefully worked my way through the entire Craft section, all the way from Applique to Wreaths, but there was not a single calligraphy book to be found, misplaced or otherwise.
I approached an assistant and asked him where I could find calligraphy books.
“In the Craft section,” he said.
“I just checked there, and there’s nothing,” I replied.
He tapped his computer’s keyboard and peered at the stock list on his monitor. He shook his head and I feared the worst.
“I’m afraid we don’t have any calligraphy books,” he said.
“No calligraphy books?”
“You don’t have a single calligraphy book?”
“To be honest, there’s not much demand for calligraphy books these days,” he said, and I almost gasped out loud in the face of such effrontery.
During the 25 years that I have been involved with calligraphy, I have become used to seeing the same old familiar titles on bookstore shelves. But never before have I drawn a complete blank. Despite the assistant’s comment, I simply refuse to accept that there is no demand for calligraphy books, and my current class of sixteen incipient scribes would surely back me up on this.
The experience has been bugging me for a few days now, and I’m close to penning a letter to the bookstore to point out the error of its ways. I’m even considering writing it in a fairly flamboyant fashion, just to prove that calligraphy is alive and well, and is no less deserving of representation in the Crafts section than Crochet or Cross Stitch.
The next time I’m in Edinburgh, I’ll make a point of checking out the Craft section again. Hopefully, the inclusion of a few calligraphy titles will have pushed the Buttons and the Candles books a wee bit further apart.
And, you never know, their availability might even spark a resurgence of interest in calligraphy in Edinburgh. A demand for calligraphy books must surely follow.
If your own local bookstore has an equally unenthusiastic attitude towards calligraphy (and calligraphers), I can recommend Calligraphity as the place to go for Calligraphy books online. You’ll be spoiled for choice!
Incidentally, the bookshelf illustrated at the top of this post is my own, and contains some of the many calligraphy books I have collected over the years.