Tucked in the coziest corner of the plaza among The Shops at Sea Pines Center is one of the rarest of treasures – an independent, locally owned bookstore. Quiet and concise as it is, By Hand, Ink is an anchor of our rich Lowcountry literature and a magnet for the community that creates it and appreciates it. Authors from hereabouts and beyond come here to sign their books and meet their readers.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

Fortunate, indeed, are the few communities who can claim a community bookstore anymore. To say the tide of business history has pulled in the other direction, toward big, corporately curated booksellers, would be a vast understatement. In fact, Amazon, a force that shakes the very survival of face-to-face shopping, started its slog toward world domination by selling books – without human contact.

By Hand, Ink is decidedly at the opposite end of the spectrum. The playful title of the store is a clue to the artistic impulse that aroused it and brought the store into being.

Inspired and Personal

As a child, Bobbi Hahn saw her father sketching expertly, and she joined in by hand-drawing the distinctive typefaces that she saw tracing the course of books. Discovering soon that these typefaces were mass produced, Bobbi’s pen went farther afield.

In calligraphy, Bobbi embraced an expressive and mindful form of art that graces words and phrases with a beauty that even the most adroit typeface selections can never seem to touch. Bobbi became so accomplished that, for 30 years, people commissioned her to create custom greeting cards and to commemorate quotes, events, and certificates.

Grown with Gratitude

At first, Bobbi exhibited and sold her calligraphy in the Tuesday settings of the Farmers & Makers Market here in The Shops at Sea Pines Center. In time, she took a little office upstairs. When the shop beside the post office at the southwest corner of the plaza became available, Bobbi tossed a prayer toward St. Ahmed, the patron saint of calligraphers, and she took the plunge.

The north wall of the shop held the first set of bookshelves at By Hand, Ink, and yet in no time at all the books had surrounded the space and burst through the wall into an adjacent room. Club Group founder Mark King teased Bobbi now and then, asking when he should evict the post office to offer the bookstore more space.

The Power to Connect

What calligraphy and bookselling had in common all along was the power to communicate and connect at a sensitive human level. Among residents and visitors to Sea Pines, By Hand, Ink became a place to discover the next great read, a resource where you could go with or without an idea of what you might like to read next. The gentle chats that take place here uncover the answers.

Among noted authors, too, By Hand, Ink became a favorite locale for a book signing, a place where readers were somehow pre-screened for being interesting to meet. Among the authors who have enjoyed this experience are Pamela Martin Owens, Dan Garrett, Robert J. Perreault, Julie Seel Renaud, and Linda S. Clayton.

Children’s books, too, are here to delight and engage. Authors include Mira Scott, Ellen Giordano, and Susan Diamond Riley, to name but a few.

Before I Ever Set Foot Here

Not even a glance at the Lowcountry literary scene would be complete without acknowledging our debt to Pat Conroy.

“I fell in love with the Lowcountry long before I ever set foot here,” Bobbi explained, from reading the works of Pat Conroy. They became acquainted in person through a fundraising event in Beaufort that succeeded in keeping a piece of waterfront property green.

Imagining that the renowned author wouldn’t remember the acquaintance, Bobbi was surprised that, instead, “He would greet me like an old friend.” The generous heart that Conroy shared with the world was evident, it seems, on such a personal level. On one occasion, Bobbi said, “He sang a song to me about friends.”

And that is what the bookshop here shares uniquely. By Hand, Ink offers a personal way to choose a book and perhaps to be enriched by the chat that took place around that book’s selection, too. We are grateful indeed to count By Hand, Ink – and its ways – among The Shops at Sea Pines Center.