Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Regulator Bookshop - Durham, NC

The Regulator Bookshop - Durham, NC
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I love visiting independent bookstores that are located in college towns.  They have a vibe and feel of something associated with advanced learning.  An air of academia where you can discover and learn all sorts of things.  I just feel smarter when I walk into one of these places and that's how I felt when I walked into The Regulator Bookshop in Durham.

It's no surprise I felt this way because this place is established.  It's been around since 1976 (when Tom C., one of the owners, told me this he added that this is since before I was born.  Thank you!  No wonder they get a lot of customers!) so they know what they're doing.  I'm always curious how indies with this kind of longevity have survived all those challenges of the chain stores, the internet, and Amazon.  According to Tom, they just adapt and change, exactly what all the successful ones have done.  They have a great location near Duke University and attract customers from that community including professors, grad students, parents, and summer camp attendees.  They also draw from nearby families which explains the nice children's department here.

The store has a main level and lower level where they hold their author events.  You can find new and used books here but they are very particular about the books they buy back.  If they buy your books back you'll receive store credit.  They also offer book remainders, extra books sent from publishers and sold at reduced prices.  The store offers some sidelines and there are some especially good ones for kids.  They don't sell music but there is a great place right next door called Hunky Dory that you should check out.  They looked like they have a great collection of vinyl.  One of my favorite things about this store is s series of events they have called, "Community Conversations," or as Tom says, "let's talk about things we don't want to talk about."  These in-store conversations are based on books such as Ta-Nehisi Coates', Between The World And Me, or Atul Gawande's, Being Mortal (I've read both and they are great).  Current books about currently evolving issues.  I think these conversations are a great way to help educate and inform a community as well as helping them to move forward.  Another example of indie community involvement and another way to bring people into the store.

On the day of my visit I had a great talk with Tom and John, the co-owners as well as the booksellers.  Everyone was wonderful to talk to and I learned so much that I felt like I was talking to bookstore professors.  I don't know if I can pass the test, but these guys sure do.  If you visit Duke University and can't get a ticket to a basketball game, no worries.  The real action is on the shelves of this fantastic indie.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  I Am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Secret Game, Scott Ellsworth.  Irrationally Yours, Dan Ariely.

Another exterior view.  

Looking through the store from the front entrance.  

This small room is directly to the left of the front entrance.  You'll find a wide assortment of magazines in this room.  

Look for this side room for a nice variety of greeting cards.  

The staff recommendations display.  

See what the reading groups and book clubs are reading.  

Display of the bestsellers here at The Regulator.  

Some of the sidelines available that the kids will enjoy.  

A partial view of the children's section.  

A unique display of books in the store on a "book cart."  

View looking from the back of the store toward the front entrance.  

This is the lower level, a nice event space area.  

A perfect built-in podium for the authors.  

Another view of the lower level.  

With the co-owners, Tom in the center and John on the right.  Thanks for a great visit.  


  1. My wife and daughter frequented The Regulator this summer while my daughter was doing an internship at Duke. They really liked it!

    1. A great bookstore in a colorful college town. If only we could combine reading and jogging at the same time! Thanks for the comment, Kevin!