Updated July 2023

Whether you’re an avid reader, a casual book enthusiast, or on the hunt for the perfect gift, Durham, North Carolina, has a thriving book scene with a variety of unique and charming bookstores to explore. From hidden gems to well-established literary havens, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. Check out our top picks for the best bookstores in Durham below!

letters bookstore


Location: Downtown, Main Street

As you stroll down Main Street, you can’t miss the eye-catching storefront signage of Letters Bookshop. This delightful bookstore boasts a well-organized selection of both used and new books. The friendly staff is always ready with excellent staff-picks and recommendations, making it a haven for any book-browser.

One of the advantages of Letters is its operating hours; open until 8 pm from Tuesday to Saturday, why not make it a stop on your downtown date night?

golden fig bookstore

Golden Fig Books

Location: 15-501

A delightful addition to the list of Durham’s best bookstores is Golden Fig Books, this cozy and welcoming bookstore is a true gem for book lovers of all ages.

The store prides itself on its commitment to promoting inclusivity and showcasing underrepresented voices in literature. Whether you’re looking for contemporary fiction, thought-provoking non-fiction, or children’s books that celebrate diversity, Golden Fig Books has something special to offer.

The staff at Golden Fig Books are not only knowledgeable about their collection but are also eager to help you find your next great read. They offer personalized recommendations and are always happy to engage in discussions about literature, making your bookstore visit a memorable and enjoyable experience.

scrap exchange bookstore

Scrap Exchange Thrift

Location: Lakewood

Did you know the Scrap Exchange Thrift Shop is also home to a used bookstore? While renowned for its thrift shop offerings and crafting supplies, Scrap Thrift also houses a hidden gem—an extensive used bookstore. Combine your crafting and tag-popping with some book browsing for an afternoon adventure. Spend a leisurely afternoon browsing through their collection of books, movies, and music, and you might stumble upon a rare find.

We love this nook for books, movies, and music inside their new space. 

Up Next: 25 Best Indoor Activities in Durham

the regulator bookstore

The Regulator

Location: Ninth Street

A true Durham institution, The Regulator has been a Ninth Street staple since 1976. This beloved independent bookstore caters to a diverse audience with its wide range of offerings. You’ll find an impressive selection of fiction, non-fiction, teen literature, and children’s books. If you’re looking for used books, head downstairs to explore their well-stocked used book section.

The Regulator goes beyond being just a bookstore; it hosts regular events, such as author talks, storytime for kids, and various classes, making it a community hub for literature lovers. Additionally, the store offers an excellent assortment of periodicals, cards, and stationery, making it a go-to place for gift shopping.

wentworth books

Wentworth & Leggett Books

Location: Brightleaf

For those seeking something out of the ordinary, Wentworth & Leggett Books is a treasure trove of rare and unique finds. Owned by the delightful husband and wife duo, David and Barbara, this bookstore surprises visitors with its diverse and eclectic collection.

Located inside Brightleaf Square, Wentworth & Leggett offers more than just books; it features special collections, antiques, maps, and atlases. Whether you’re a collector or just enjoy browsing through unusual items, this cozy shop is worth a visit.

Books Do Furnish a Room
Books Do Furnish a Room

Books Do Furnish a Room

Location: Ninth Street

Tucked away just off Markham Avenue behind Heavenly Buffaloes, Books Do Furnish a Room is a hidden gem that’s not to be missed. The store lives up to its intriguing name by providing a wide array of used books, music, and more.

If you’re a fan of comics and graphic novels, you’ll be delighted by their great selection. With its inviting atmosphere and an impressive collection of literary treasures, this bookstore is a true haven for book enthusiasts.

Next Up: Tour of Durham’s Murals and Street Art

There you have it: the best bookstores in Durham!

Durham, NC, offers a delightful array of bookstores catering to diverse interests and preferences. Whether you’re exploring the bustling downtown or the charming Ninth Street, you’re bound to find the perfect literary escape in one of these fantastic bookstores. So, if you’re ever in Durham and seeking a good read, make sure to check out these wonderful establishments. Happy book hunting!

Sarah Lasseter
Author: Sarah Lasseter

A Virginia native and a UNC grad, I found my way to Durham in 2013 after returning from two years in the Peace Corps in West Africa. Now I work as a high school science teacher in RTP. Next to running, exploring Durham is my favorite hobby! My husband and I fill our weekends stalking food trucks, bouncing around breweries, and patronizing new eateries.