25 of the BEST Bookstores in North Carolina

Last Updated on August 18, 2021

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If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.

When exploring this wonderful state from east to west (or west to east!), it’s impossible to ignore the best of the best bookstores in North Carolina. More than a few bookstores have been in business for decades while some newer additions are making noise in cities and towns from our mountains to the coast.

Regardless of how long they’ve been around, ALL are crucial to the communities they inhabit–and not just to readers. These bookstores provide services in the form of book clubs, events, and more community-building that just can’t be replaced by big-box stores.

We know there are many more, but for now, here is our pick of 25 of the best bookstores in North Carolina whose shelves and online stores are awaiting your eyes and orders!

This post is part of our series on the best things to do in North Carolina, with a specific emphasis on supporting our local businesses.

Bookstores in North Carolina

To keep things organized, we’ve broken this guide down into regions (Western, Central, and Eastern NC) and alphabetized each section’s collection of bookstores.

Western North Carolina

Adventure Bound Books

120 N Sterling St, Morganton (Shipping Available)

Bookstores in North Carolina Adventure Bound Books Morganton

Adventure Bound Books opened in 2018, selling new and used books from Indie, new releases, and bestsellers to religious and spiritual. This Morganton bookstore also houses book-related gifts and educational items.

Their events include Saturday Morning Story Time, adult book clubs, Storybook Camp in the summer, Kids’ Night In, and more. They also offer a community room allowing local writers a space to think and write and local book clubs a place to meet.

Local and regional authors visit often for book signings and conversation.

City Lights Bookstore

3 E Jackson St, Sylva (Shipping Available)

At City Lights Bookstore in downtown Sylva, you’ll find a variety of new and used books from regional authors but also from those around the world. This Jackson County bookstore opened in 1985 and sells cards, journals, maps, gifts, and more.

Foggy Pine Books

471 W King St, Boone (Shipping Available)

Foggy Pine Books sits on King St in Boone and features books from independent publishers, local writers, and bestsellers. Like many businesses in Boone, it’s run by an App State alum and is a continuation of Black Bear Books, purchased in 2016 by owner Mary Ruthless

Step inside (or browse their website), and you’ll find a wonderful collection of local, national, and international titles.

One thing that makes Foggy Pine stick out among other bookstores in North Carolina’s High Country is their “Free Books for Boone” program. This program provides Watauga County residents free access to at least one book that they don’t have to return.

Little Switzerland Books and Beans

9426 Hwy-226A, Little Switzerland

Bookstores in North Carolina Little Switzerland Books and Beans

Little Switzerland Books and Beans started in 1987 and expanded in 2004. This bookstore is stuffed to the brim with as many books as could fit and now features over 50,000 titles.

Books and Beans has extensive collections in military history, medicine, cookbooks, religion, sci-fi, and mystery. On top of that, they have gifts, local arts and crafts, and a full-service coffee and espresso bar.

We think you’ll love this place, whether you’re just passing through on the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway or staying at the Switzerland Inn.

Next door, you’ll find some delicious barbecue at the Little Switzerland General Store. Eating there is one of our favorite things to do in Little Switzerland.

Malaprops

55 Haywood St, Asheville (Shipping Available)

Malaprops is a great independent bookstore and cafe located in Asheville and founded in 1984. They carry a carefully curated selection of books for adults, children, and young adults, as well as an array of gift items. Their café offers locally roasted coffee and bakery items.

Malaprops hosts book clubs, partners regularly with local and area nonprofits, and does everything they can to give back. They also host almost daily events. 

Central North Carolina

Bookmarks

634 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem

Bookmarks in Winston-Salem is one of few non-profit bookstores in North Carolina, beginning support in 2004 and opening a brick and mortar space in 2017. Purchases at this shop go toward outreach programs in the community and rounding up orders helps connect Bookmarks members with authors and books.

During a typical year, they’ll host ~15 free community events every month. Many award winners, including Pulitzer Prize winners, have come to Bookmarks to share their experiences with attendees.

The Country Bookshop

140 NW Broad Street, Southern Pines (Shipping Available)

The Country Bookshop has been around since 1953 and is locally owned and operated in downtown Southern Pines. They have a large selection of classics, bestsellers, and everything else you can think of, from true crime genres, law, and family & relationships.

They pride themselves on catering to the small-town atmosphere and having a friendly, knowledgeable staff. The Country Bookshop holds weekly events such as storytime for the little ones, author events, and visits with students. 

Epilogue

109 E Franklin St #100, Chapel Hill (Shipping Available)

Epilogue is an independently owned bookstore operated by a couple who were inspired by the plazuelas of Mexico and chocolaterias of Spain. This unique inspiration resulted in the vibrant Epilogue we see today: a community where you can enjoy good books with craft beer, wine, churros, and hot chocolate.

They try and source as many of their products as they can locally and sustainably. Some events they have had in the past include book readings, literary workshops, trivia nights, and more. 

Fifth Street Books

2267 US-70, Mebane (Shipping Available)

One of the most unique bookstores in North Carolina can be found in Mebane. The warehouse that is Fifth Street Books holds a fairly random collection of used books for every audience, from kids to adults.

You can shop in-person, but Fifth Street Books will also ship bundles of books to you for very reasonable prices. We’ve done this for our little one, and we were very excited to open her big box of surprise books!

Flyleaf Books

752 MLK Jr Blvd, Chapel Hill (Shipping Available)

Along with Epilogue, visits to Flyleaf are a couple of our favorite things to do in Chapel Hill. This store sits on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and holds a large selection of adult and kid’s titles to peruse.

They also host author events each week, which you can keep up with via their website and mailing list emails.

McIntyre’s Books

220 Market Street, Pittsboro (Shipping Available)

McIntyre’s first opened in 1989 after the owners of Fearrington Village felt that a local bookstore would be a great addition to the area. They boast a wide variety of book options from their personal favorites, mystery & thriller, new & noteworthy, and kids’ picks.

They currently offer weekly events such as Zoom readings and conversations, wine classes, and dinner with various authors.

Mr. Mike’s Used Books

6440 Tryon Rd, Cary

Mr. Mike’s in Cary has been around since 2003 and offers a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books. They add hundreds of books to their stock daily, ranging from bestsellers to rare finds.

Mr. Mike’s prices most of their books at half the original publisher price or less, so you know you’re always getting a good deal! If you have used books that you want to sell, you can take them here and see what they’re worth.

Paper Skyscraper

330 East Blvd, Charlotte

Paper Skyscraper has been in the historic Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte for more than 25 years. They pride themselves on being one of those bookstores in North Carolina with a friendly, comfortable atmosphere.

Paper Skyscraper offers books, gifts, and cards. 

Park Road Books

4139 Park Road, Charlotte

Park Road Books has been in business since 1977 and is the only full-service independent bookstore in Charlotte selling all new books. A community staple, they show their love for community through book clubs and author events.

Park Road Books prides itself on being able to find the right book for the right person. When you stop by, you may also meet their bookstore dog, Lola! 

Visiting Park Road and Paper Skyscraper are a couple of our favorite things to do in Charlotte!

Persnickety Books

347 S. Main St, Burlington

Persnickety Books offers new and used books acquired through the hard work of their book sourcers. At Persnickety, there’s always something new waiting when you come to visit! They also offer a trade-in program where you can trade your gently used books for store credit.

They’re located in a building with an upstairs loft that can be rented out for any kind of event you can think of.

If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, Persnickety Books has plenty, and volunteers can earn a $10 credit for every volunteer hour! Best of all, they believe in second chances and work with programs to give those released from prison new opportunities. 

Quail Ridge Books

4209-100 Lassiter Mill Road, Raleigh (Shipping Available)

Quail Ridge Books was founded in 1984 in North Hills, Raleigh. It remains independently owned, even after being purchased by its current owner in 2013. Thankfully, they want Quail Ridge to remain one of the best bookstores in North Carolina!

Events, discussion groups, and town hall meetings join a large selection of books to choose from. You can join their Readers’ Club for $15/year per household and also receive special sales and discounts.

Quail Ridge Books also participates in community outreach and fundraisers, as well as arranges visits from children’s book authors to read at schools. 

Regulator Bookshop

720 9th St, Durham (Shipping Available)

Bookstores in North Carolina Regulator Bookshop Durham

Tucked in a nice spot along 9th St in Durham is the quaint Regulator Bookshop. They occasionally hold community events as well as author readings. Big names have appeared in the past and will hopefully keep visiting our favorite bookstore in North Carolina’s Bull City.

This place offers it all, including a very nice kids’ section. Keeping our little one engaged doesn’t stop there, however, as their “Children’s Subscription Program” is a wonderful feature unique to Regulator.

Scuppernong Books

304 South Elm Street, Greensboro

Bookstores in North Carolina Scuppernong Greensboro

Scuppernong has been open since 2013 and is a downtown Greensboro fixture. They are a general interest/literary bookstore with many fiction and poetry titles, as well as an expansive kid’s collection.

Their in-store café offers organic coffee and espresso, wine, cheese, charcuterie boards, and more, all sourced primarily from local businesses.

Scuppernong has hosted hundreds of events every year ranging from author visits to local community conversations. We learned more about all of this from owner Brian Lampkin during an episode of NC Travel Chat!

Our first experience with Scuppernong came during a Taste Carolina Food Tour, which is one of the most delicious things to do in Greensboro!

Wonderland Bookshop

409 State Street, Greensboro (Shipping Available)

Wonderland Bookshop is a sister-owned shop catering to children’s books. Browse their shelves of books while being greeted by the three resident dogs.

While no events are taking place right now, they usually have storytime twice a week in addition to special guest readers. 

Eastern North Carolina

Books and Beans

1151 Falls Road, Rocky Mount

Bookstores in North Carolina Books and Beans Rocky Mount

Enjoy your Books and Beans experience with some delicious Counter Culture coffee, authentic breakfast, and lunch sandwiches with ingredients from Metro Deli. Books and Beans’ carefully curated atmosphere can be attributed to their careful choice of local and global books and beautiful flowers.

Everything at this bookstore inside Rocky Mount Mills was designed with the goal of cultivating a peaceful place to read and converse.

Books and Beans also featured in our guides covering things to do and restaurants in Rocky Mount!

Books to Be Red

34 School Rd, Ocracoke

On Ocracoke Island, you’ll find a great selection at Books to Be Red. Housed in a late 19th-century cottage sitting off the Outer Banks end of Highway 12, this might be the most isolated of our list of bookstores in North Carolina.

In addition to books, you’ll find gifts and handcrafted items for sale here. One of their unique features is a room dedicated solely to kids that house a variety of children’s books, board games, toys, and more.

Buxton Village Books

47918 NC-12, Buxton (Shipping Available)

Also on the Outer Banks is Buxton Village Books, a bookstore that has served Hatteras Island since 1984. They have you covered for books, local art, hats, and much more!

If you’re not able to make it down to this Outer Banks bookstore, then you can always order online to support them!

City Center Gallery & Books

112 Hay St, Fayetteville

Bookstores in North Carolina City Center Gallery and Books Fayetteville

Walk along Hay St in downtown Fayetteville, and you’ll find a wonderful novel selection at City Center Gallery & Books. Titles from local authors sit on the shelves side-by-side with national and international names.

You can find some rare finds here, including a great telling of the history of Fayetteville and its surroundings. We also love the kids’ section in the back.

This bookstore is also a supporter of the arts, as indicated by the name. At City Center Gallery & Books, you’ll find local artistic creations alongside the eclectic mix of books.

The Next Chapter Books and Art

320 S Front St, New Bern

Owned by a local author, The Next Chapter Books and Art offers books written in and around the New Bern area.

You can also shop for artist creations and various gifts for yourself, your family, and friends. Keep an eye out for author events and art walks, too!

Quarter Moon Books & Gift Shop

708 S Anderson Blvd, Topsail Beach (Shipping Available)

Quarter Moon has been around since May 1995 and celebrated its 25th birthday in 2020! While books are the heart of this Topsail Island business, they also provide clothing, gifts, stationery, coffee, and wine.

Quarter Moon is a popular place to visit for both locals and tourists, also hosting the occasional author event.

Support These Bookstores in North Carolina (and Everywhere Else!)

You may already have known about some of these bookstores in North Carolina, but we hope you found a new place to go and find something new (or used) to read. We’ve enjoyed events at many of them and hope you can, too!

In case you’re not able to explore them in-person, we hope you’ll still pick them for phone or online orders over big-box stores or websites that are headquartered far away from North Carolina.

If you’re like us and love shopping local, we’d love to know which of these bookstores in North Carolina is your favorite! Also, we’d love to know any that we missed so we can give them their deserved support!

More Things to Do in North Carolina (Beyond Bookstores)

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