Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shop Local, y'all!

Shop Independent Durham Week, when we celebrate and support our town’s fabulous locally-owned, independent businesses, is coming up November 30th-December 8th. To make sure folks are ready for this momentous occasion, I've put together a little quiz. (Hint: all the questions have the same answer).

--What can you do to strengthen our local economy?
--What can you do to help create new jobs here in Durham?
--What can you do to make sure Durham isn't bland and boring but has real character?
--What can you do to make Durham a place where people vote, participate in community reform efforts, and pay attention to local affairs?

The answer to all these questions? Shop at locally-owned, independent businesses!

When you patronize a locally-owned independent business, 3 to 4 times more of your money stays in our local economy, compared to spending that money at a national chain. And when you shop on-line, you are in effect loading all of your money onto a plane at RDU, with a one-way ticket out of here.

The economic advantage of shopping local is so strong that studies of other cities show that if everyone in Durham shifted just 10% of their purchases to local independent businesses, it would create 800 to 1,000 new jobs in our home town. And as for character? Well we've all seen towns with pretty much just national chain shops and restaurants.  Enough said...about North Raleigh.

And cities that have more locally-owned businesses have higher levels of civic engagement., which just makes sense when you think about it. Local businesses help create a culture of real community.

OK, now that everyone has passed the shop local quiz, its time to move on to the fun part—participating in Shop Independent Durham Week. Shop Independent Durham Week has been put together by Sustain-a-Bull, Durham's locally-owned, independent business organization. During this 8 day week that starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving, dozens of shops and restaurants around town will be having special sales, contests, raffles, and events. See for all the details. The idea is to make it easy and fun to shop local.

At The Regulator we'll be kicking things off on Saturday the 30th with the help of 10 local authors, who have volunteered to be “booksellers for a day.” Working two hour shifts, these local literary luminaries will be recommending books to our customers, for their own reading and for gift giving. See a complete schedule. All through the week we'll be having stacks of our best books on sale, and we'll be raffling off an incredibly beautiful new facsimile edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which sells for $350.00.

To bring the local emphasis of this full circle, we'll also be featuring some of the great new books by local writers and new books about our local area. Marvelous new works of fiction by Wilton Barnhardt, Allan Gurganus and Lee Smith. Jennifer Farley’s fascinating new book on the “Duke Homestead and the American Tobacco Company.” William Ferris’ “The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists,” which includes a CD and a DVD of  interviews of folks like Eudora Welty and Pete Seeger. And Lawrence Earley’s “The Workboats of Core Sound: Stories and Photographs of a Changing World.”
To mention but a few.

So this holiday season give your old hometown a present too. Shop Independent Durham! We thank you.
Tom Campbell

(a version of this article appeared in the Durham News section of the News and Observer today)


"Take a Moment to Replenish with the Written Word"

"As we head into the upcoming, very busy holiday season, as booksellers we like to remind ourselves why we first stepped into a bookstore. We are lovers of stories. We are sharers of tales. We finish a good book and we are pressing it into the hands of a like-minded friend. The more we read, the more we discover new favorites to pass on to family to begin a new conversation with them. The shelves are brimming with opportunities to rekindle a spark, to refresh a tired spirit or to reconfigure a new phase in life. With all of the bustling, take a moment to replenish with the written word. 

"We look forward to making recommendations and helping you find just the right book to give this holiday season."
--From the e-newsletter sent yesterday by Books & Company, Oconomowoc, Wis.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Why Place Still Matters: A Localist Agenda

We couldn't have said it any better ourselves. The importance of places like Ninth Street, from our friend and customer Reyn Bowman.

Read all about it on Reyn's blog:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Who Needs a Bookstore?

The internet, amazon, e-books. Who needs a bookstore these days?

At least once a week people walk into The Regulator and tell us how surprised (and usually how pleased) they are to see that a shop like ours is still in business. But as the long time co-owner of Durham's independent bookstore, I'm not all that surprised that bookstores like ours are still doing well. In part that's because I am privileged to see, on a daily basis, the many ways that people need and appreciate a good bookstore. Here’s a look at a few of the folks that still seem to need a bookstore:

--The two boys, ages about 5 and 7, who burst through our front door on the run the other day, calling out in excitement as they sprinted toward the children's section at the back of the store. They knew they were going to get to look through dozens of books and then pick one or two really special books to take home with them; books that would live with them, in their rooms, from that day on.

--All the grown-ups who enjoy a leisurely browse through our shelves, our displays, and our recommended books. Even with all the information available on-line, studies show that people mostly find out about the books they read from browsing in bookstores or talking with friends. And for many of us book-huggers,, there's nothing quite like the feeling of browsing through shelf after shelf of current and classic books, each one carefully chosen by someone working right in that store.

--People who like “real” books. E-books may be convenient (and we sell them, along with Kobo e-readers), but e-books are probably not the best choice for people who want to dive deeply into their reading. Studies have shown that most of the people who buy e-books also buy print books—and that they finish their print books far more often than they finish their e-books. A Scientific American article this spring titled “Do e-readers inhibit reading comprehension?” concluded that “Research suggests that the devices can prevent readers from wholly absorbing longer texts.” The article also indicated that long-term memory of what a person has read is less when it has been read on a screen. 

Who else needs a bookstore? People who enjoy being part of a community of readers. People who like spending time in a place where everyone is there because they love reading and books. People who want to support their local community, economically and culturally, through their purchases. People who feel it might be important to disconnect, slow down and concentrate for a while in the midst of our distracted digital days.
To quote from a marvelous new book, “Slow Reading in a Hurried Age” by David Mikics: “Slowness and concentration are needed to learn to do anything well that is worth doing well, from fly-fishing to electrical engineering to playing the violin.”

In other words, if you really want to get down to it with most anything, you need to slow down and pay attention. That's what reading a book is all about, and bookstores remain wonderful portals to that experience.
"Who Needs a Bookstore" was initially published in The Durham News section of the News and Observer on October  16th
--Tom Campbell