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Independent Bookstores in North Carolina (25+ of the Best!)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on June 28, 2024.

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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.

We’ve visited so many, not just to see if our NC Bucket List book or our NC Mountain Towns book is at each place. These bookstores are important downtown pieces throughout the state, and we should all do our best to support them!

More than a few of the bookstores we feature 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.

Here’s how we’ve organized this guide:

  • Bookstores in North Carolina (Western)
  • Bookstores in North Carolina (Central)
  • Bookstores in North Carolina (Eastern)

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

Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in North Carolina and are wondering, “What are the best bookstores near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out!

Read More: Why and How to Support Our Local Businesses

Bookstores in North Carolina (Western)

To keep things organized, we’ve broken this guide into regions, starting with Western. Central and Eastern NC will follow, with each section’s alphabetized collection of bookstores in North Carolina.

If you’d like to visually plan your adventures, check out our North Carolina Travel Map.

City Lights Bookstore

Address: 3 E Jackson St, Sylva, NC (Shipping Available)

The sign for City Lights bookstore and cafe

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.

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Highland Books

Address: 36 W Main St, Brevard, NC (Shipping Available)

out child looking through the shelves at Highland Books

Highland Books has been serving Brevard its books since 1975. Its ownership transferred to Leslie Logemann and Mark Connelley in 2021; this shop hasn’t missed a beat.

As soon as you walk in, you’ll be greeted by a spacious collection of shelves with new fiction and nonfiction, classics, and a great selection of children’s books.

Like the other bookstores in North Carolina we’ve mentioned (and will mention), Highland has an excellent local section. They feature well-known North Carolina writers but also hyperlocal authors from Transylvania County and its surroundings.

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)

Little Switzerland Books and Beans

Address: 9426 Hwy-226A, Little Switzerland, NC

NC Bookstores Books and Beans Little Switzerland

Little Switzerland Books and Beans started in 1987 and expanded in 2004. This seasonally open bookstore (closed December to March) is stuffed with as many books as possible 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.

Read More: Things to Do in Little Switzerland


Address: 55 Haywood St, Asheville, NC (Shipping Available)

Bookstores in North Carolina Malaprops Asheville NC

Malaprops is a great independent bookstore and cafe in Asheville, 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 possible to give back. They also host almost daily events. 

Read More: The Best Breweries in Asheville

Thornwell Books

Address: 202 South Sterling St., Morganton, NC

NC Bookstores Thornwell Books Morganton North Carolina

Housed in a former auto dealership, Thornwell Books offers a vast collection of books from Indie, new releases, and bestsellers. This Morganton bookstore doubles as a cafe and serves tasty drinks to accompany your latest read.

There are seats upstairs to enjoy a view of this NC bookstore or to escape from the steady foot traffic that keeps this place buzzing.

Read More: 25+ Amazing Restaurants in Morganton and Nearby! (Map Included!)

Bookstores in North Carolina (Central)


Address: 634 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem, NC

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 community outreach programs 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.

Read More: 58 Excellent Day Trips from Greensboro (Within a 2-Hour Drive)

The Country Bookshop

Address: 140 NW Broad Street, Southern Pines, NC (Shipping Available)

a corner of a bookstore in Southern Pines NC

The Country Bookshop has been around since 1953 and is locally owned and operated in downtown Southern Pines. The Moore County bookstore has many 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. 

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

NC Bookstores Epilogue Chapel Hill

Epilogue is an independently owned bookstore in Chapel Hill 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 to source as many of their products as possible locally and sustainably. Some events they have had in the past include book readings, literary workshops, trivia nights, and more. 

Read More: 50 of the Best Day Trips from Raleigh (Fun Getaways!)

Fifth Street Books

Address: 2267 US-70, Mebane, NC (Shipping Available)

One of the most unique bookstores in North Carolina can be found in Mebane. The Fifth Street Books warehouse 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

Address: 752 MLK Jr Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC (Shipping Available)

NC Bookstores Flyleaf Books Chapel Hill

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

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

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville (Great Getaways!)

McIntyre’s Books

Address: 220 Market Street, Pittsboro, NC (Shipping Available)

Fearrington House bookstore

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 dinners with various authors.

Read More: Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro (History + How to Visit!)

Mr. Mike’s Used Books

Address: 6440 Tryon Rd, Cary, NC

Mr. Mike’s in Cary has been around since 2003 and offers various 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’s 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.

Read More: The Mayton in Cary (+ 7 Things We Love About Staying Here!)

Paper Skyscraper

Address: 330 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC

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. 

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Park Road Books

Address: 4139 Park Road, Charlotte, NC

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 the community through book clubs and author events.

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

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Persnickety Books

Address: 347 S. Main St, Burlington, NC

Persnickety Books offers new and used books acquired through the hard work of their book sourcers. At Persnickety, something new is always waiting when you visit! They also offer a trade-in program to 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 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. 

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Quail Ridge Books

Address: 4209-100 Lassiter Mill Road, Raleigh, NC (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 and arranges visits from children’s book authors to read at schools. 

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Regulator Bookshop

Address: 720 9th St, Durham, NC (Shipping Available)

a woman holding a book from Regulator Bookshop

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.

Read More: 30+ Delicious Restaurants in Durham (Causal + Date Night ideas!)

Scuppernong Books

Address: 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro, NC

The children's corner at Scuppernong Books

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 and 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 yearly, 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!

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Eastern NC Bookstores

These bookstores in North Carolina’s towns and cities east of Raleigh are some of the most unique in the state.

Books and Beans

Address: 1151 Falls Road, Rocky Mount, NC

a latte with a heart among the books at Books and Beans

Enjoy your Books and Beans experience with some delicious Counter Culture coffee and great food. The latter includes 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.

Read More: Things to Do in Rocky Mount

Books to Be Red

Address: 34 School Rd, Ocracoke, NC

looking through bookshelves in the children's section of Books to Be Red

On Ocracoke Island, you’ll find a great local selection at Books to Be Red. Housed in a late 19th-century cottage sitting off the Outer Banks end of Highway 12, this is one of the best 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 houses a variety of children’s books, board games, toys, and more.

Another great thing about Books to Be Red is that it’s just across the street from some of Ocracoke’s best restaurants.

Read More: Portsmouth Island (How to See this Beautiful Uninhabited Place)

Buxton Village Books

Address: 47918 NC-12, Buxton, NC (Shipping Available)

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

If you cannot make it down to this Outer Banks bookstore, you can always order online to support them!

Read More: 30 Amazing Outer Banks Restaurants for Your Next Beach Trip!

Address: 112 Hay St, Fayetteville, NC

the main floor of City Center Gallary & Books in Fayetteville, NC

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.

Read More: 20+ Mouthwatering Restaurants in Fayetteville (and Cumberland County)

Island Book Shop

Address: 100 N Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC
Facebook Page

When open for the season (March to mid-/end-December), Island Book Shop has your next beach read waiting on one of their shelves. If your next book is unavailable, they can get it for you.

Remember that big-box stores aren’t the only ones who can do that.

Read More: Amazing Beaches Near Wilmington

The Next Chapter Books and Art

Address: 320 S Front St, New Bern, NC

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 your friends. Keep an eye out for author events and art walks, too!

Read More: 15+ Awesome Things to Do in New Bern

Quarter Moon Books & Gift Shop

Address: 708 S Anderson Blvd, Topsail Beach, NC (Shipping Available)

Last but not least of our bookstores in North Carolina is Quarter Moon in Topsail Beach. This place has been around since May 1995 and celebrated its 25th birthday in 2020!

While books are the heart of this business, they also provide clothing, gifts, stationery, coffee, and wine.

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

Read More: 17 of the Best Topsail Island Restaurants (Great Food for All!)

Support These Bookstores in North Carolina

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 up for phone or online orders from 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 (Beyond NC Bookstores)

4 thoughts on “Independent Bookstores in North Carolina (25+ of the Best!)”

  1. Main Street Books in Davidson, NC is a fantastic independent bookstore. The great selections and friendly staff made me fall in love with indies!

  2. Was there (Persnickety in Burlington) on 02 Aug – still a bookstore with a good selection of used books (some new). Great staff and wide-ranging general selection. While there are some graphic novels, did not see any comic books

  3. North State Books at 109 E. Court Square, Lincolnton, NC has been selling used books for 33 years. The new phone number is 704-240-7258. Open Tuesday – Saturday 10am to 2pm. The bookstore is next door to City Lunch, a family owned diner that has been serving food for 65 years. Come see us. 🙂


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