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2022 Scriptus Pen and Writing Show

Posted in Fountain Pens

For those who aren’t familiar with the show, Scriptus is held in the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, on the second floor of the Toronto Reference Library, from 10am to 4pm. This year, it was on Sunday, October 30.

When we arrived at the library about five to 10, there was a line wrapped along the Asquith Ave wall of the library, and it was clear that a large number of people had already been allowed in. The line moved quickly, and, once we made it inside, I was amazed at both how fabulous the library is and the length of the line ahead of us.

Based on the number of vendors listed on the Scriptus website, I was expecting a small, quiet show. I made the mistake of assuming that the show is a single day because it couldn’t support two days. Massive mistake on my part.

The entire show floor was packed, with only small pockets of empty space. At some of the most popular tables, it was nearly impossible to get past the people who were stopped and looking or waiting to pay. The temperature in the crowded areas was, to me, uncomfortably hot, while it was cooler — manageable, at least — in the open pockets.

The crowded Epic section of Scriptus from the near left corner.

There was also a long line forming from the Wonder Pens table and cutting across the rows, causing a traffic jam.

Even for me, used to DC Pen Show crowds, the mass of people was overwhelming. At one point, I hid in the bathroom for a breather. While there, I spoke to a couple of women who have previously attended Scriptus, and, according to them, the crowd volume was normal. However, they did say that it tended to clear out a bit around mid-day. I didn’t notice that, but Jim and I left around 1pm.

The crowded Epic section of Scriptus from the far right corner.
From this angle, the areas that look empty are the vendor aisles.

Layout

Illustration of the Scriptus 2022 floor plan. The large area, Epic, is to the left, the middle section, Prologue, and left section, Novella, are about the same size. You enter through Prologue.
This floor plan is from the Scriptus interactive map, created by Alexander Kramer.

The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon has three “sections,” as seen above. You enter into the Prologue section, with the Epic section to your left, and the Novella section to your right.

The Epic section had three rows, bordered on either side by tables. The Novella section was turned into a U, with tables jutting out in the middle. It was a decent set of layouts, given the spaces.

That said, unlike other shows where vendors hardly have any room to move, Scriptus is so generous as to give vendors more space than attendees. I think the crush of people could be significantly alleviated by cutting the vendor space between tables by 1/3 to 1/2 and giving that space to attendees.

I’m also surprised that no one made any attempt to move or break up (to leave spaces for people to walk) the line from Wonder Pens. For reference, the line of people followed the red line between the Epic and Prologue sections in the image above, blocking the path to the Epic section. They would, of course, move as people came up to the line, but it was a choke point.

Tickets

There aren’t any tickets at Scriptus; admission is completely free. While awesome, I do wonder how anyone keeps track of attendance, either to gauge growth from year to year and space requirements for future years, or to ensure that the max capacity isn’t surpassed.

Selection

Scriptus is stationery heavy. There was an amazing selection of paper, notebooks, and general ephemera like washi tape, markers, stamps, etc. There were a surprising number of calligraphers, around 5, I think. Of pens, the selection was skewed toward vintage, around 65%–70%. The moderns pens were almost all from large manufacturers, with only a few indie makers. And there were 3 nibmeisters, who all seemed to be busy non-stop.

Accessibility

The library itself seemed accessible. However, as I mentioned, the crowds of people made the show virtually inaccessible for anyone with a physical disability.

There was a stage at the far left of the Epic section, some of which was left clear and people could sit. Other than that, you’d have to leave the show and sit out in the library.

While quieter than US shows — I could still easily hold conversations — the noise level and the temperature would likely prove overwhelming for many.

Scoring

Overall Score: 3.44 / 5

Layout: 3.75 / 5 – The crowding and temperature spikes it caused are big negatives for me, as was the line.

Price: 5 / 5 – You certainly can’t beat free.

Selection: 4 / 5 – When considered as a whole — how many different types of things were available — Scriptus had a pretty good selection. But, considering just pens, the selection wasn’t great.

Accessibility: 1 / 5 – The one point is for the library accessibility.


Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you enjoyed my post. Have you attended Scriptus? If not, would you like to? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

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One Comment

  1. Erica
    Erica

    This was my first Scriptus (and my first pen show, even). It was kind of a madhouse. I know it’s run by volunteers so I hate to suggest things that make more work for them, but I do wonder if extending it by a day would thin out the crowds a bit and make the show more enjoyable for everyone. I definitely did not get to look at everything I wanted to (I spent a large amount of time in a gridlocked queue at the Phidon tables), and I probably would have spent more money if I’d been able to browse more (bad for me, good for the vendors). That said, I’ll be back next year. 🙂

    November 6, 2022
    |Reply

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