Regulator Testimonials

Some community members have taken the time to put their thoughts on video and on paper for us. We thought you might enjoy their stories.

The Regulator was one of my favorite places in Durham when I lived there. I always had to go in whenever I was on 9th Street, even though I knew I would end up buying more books than I needed. It’s a great place to browse–the range of books and magazines was wider and more interesting than anything I could find at a chain bookstore. I loved listening to the owners discuss books with customers and seeing other customers come in to pick up books or newspapers they had ordered. One day last year the Regulator posted an image of the following note from their register on their Facebook page: “[name withheld] ordered a Civil War book. When it arrives, do not call him. His wife thinks he’s downsizing his library.” I remember thinking that was so emblematic of the store itself: friendly and a little goofy, supportive of the love of books in all its forms, deeply hooked into the social life of Durham. I think the Regulator is an important place to a lot of people in the area–it’s more than just a store.

Chana Kraus-Friedberg

A longterm Durham resident before recently becoming Michigan State University’s newest Health Sciences Librarian

There’s a spot in the back of the Regulator, at the crossroads between the children and young-adult books and the “Society” section of recent nonfiction, that always has the feel of a twenty-first-century salon. There’s a small area with a comfortable couch, a chair, and a long pillowed bench, where you’ll usually find a group of people sitting and reading together. They might chat occasionally about what they’re reading. Anton and I can spend hours there, slouched and paging through different books, chatting with others doing the same. Sometimes a writer happens by, and we buy a book and have him or her sign it. Sometimes there’s a reading downstairs, and it might include a short concert of blues music, a heated political argument, or cascades of delirious laughter. There are political meetings, book-grou meetings, and more informal meetings that make up the texture of daily life in a place worth living in. The work of the bookstore is, ultimately, to create that kind of space. At the Regulator, they do it through their books, of course, through the events that, week after week, bring a remarkable group of writers and thinkers to the store. But they do it as much through the cultivation of a space that says to anyone and everyone: Come on in, take your time, stay for two minutes or two hours. And because of the time spent inside, you’ll walk out into a world that’s a little bit different from when you came in.

To read Laurent Dubois’s full story click here:…

Laurent Dubois

Local author and Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University

Over the years I have spent many an hour in bookstores, not one of them wasted. I have, perhaps, two thousand books. Not many, really—I know people who have five times as much. Books, by their very nature, possess something that a tablet can never do: physicality. They inhabit the world. Once, by way of example, Anna, my daughter, while we were in a bookstore rushed over and showed me two books. One was a book by Bronte with beautiful, original lithographs. The other was a book with pages made of fabric. Anna rubbed her hand across a page, and felt its texture and heft. You can’t do that with an electronic tablet. I understand the appeal: the electronic tablet’s ease; its ability to download thousands of books, and therefore save space. But it is this ability to occupy space, to take up room, to exist, which appeals to me. When I pick up a book, the author, and his or her words, becomes real to me, as if the words were written for me alone.

This is what The Regulator Bookshop has done for me over the years. I love The Regulator. I can’t imagine Durham without it. Its physical existence, its ability to take up space, to be part of this city’s landscape, and just knowing that there are words in books inside a store that I can visit, actually comforts me. “Life is a succession of habits, since the individual is a succession of individuals,” Samuel Beckett said. With each time I enter The Regulator Bookshop, I count my life all the richer.

Robert Wallace

Author and two- time winner of the Doris Betts’ Fiction Prize