Booksellers Rock! Tom Campbell, The Regulator Bookshop


Tom presenting the Book Sense Book of the Year award to Sara Gruen for Water for Elephants


Over half of our Chapel Hill office lives in Durham, which is (undeniably) the coolest town in the Triangle. We–the 50% plus of us, that is–are not-so-secretly trying to move our office to downtown Durham. One major reason? The Regulator Bookshop. (Also, Banh’s, which has the best Vietnamese food anywhere, bar none.) We frequent the Regulator regularly, not least of which is because of all the stellar events they host. And also because it’s our neighborhood bookstore, and we’re all about supporting local businesses. Regulator co-owner Tom Campbell, one of the nicest guys around, is in our Triangle bookseller spotlight today.


What books recently rocked my world:
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye. A moving father and grown son story, just out from Unbridled.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Bailey. Quiets you right down. I forget who published this, but they have a winner on their hands.

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Best damn event we’ve hosted:
Well there was the time when Richard Ford…, and when Martin Amis, or when Carl Hiassen, or Carol Shields… This is an impossible question. A sentimental favorite of mine is a holiday event we’ve done a number of times with Allan Gurganus. Allan performs a story he wrote for NPR a few years back, about a pregnant homeless girl hanging around a mall, who ends up giving birth in the back of the pet shop on Christmas Eve. Allan blows the story away, we serve mulled wine and hot apple cider, everybody ends the evening with tears in their eyes.

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Most entertaining author we’ve hosted:
Got to be Frank McCourt. Before 1,200 people he read, declaimed some (Irish) poetry, then he danced and sang. Irish drinking songs, of course.

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Strangest question a customer has ever asked:
“Can you order from Amazon?”

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What makes our neighborhood and customers awesome:
They still put up with us after all these years. And Durham is becoming so cool these days, we hear Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill is thinking of becoming Algonquin Books of Durham.

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I promise you won’t find this at any other store:
A front table stack of the exciting new coffee table book, “Concrete: A Seven Thousand Year History,” by Reese Palley. Our way of saying “Hey, we don’t sell any fluff here at The Regulator.”

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If I weren’t selling books, I’d be:
An unemployed journalist.

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Books that changed my life:
How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method by J.I Rodale

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Top three authors, living or dead, I’d invite to my dinner party:
Benjamin Franklin, Gary Shteyngart, Haven Kimmel

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Top three songs on the soundtrack to my life:
Most anything by Gilberto Gil or Baba Maal. “My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane.

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My last meal request:
Something from that day’s menu at The Magnolia Grill.

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