North Carolina

Persnickety Books – Burlington, North Carolina

During my summer book tour through North Carolina, I made efforts to pass through smaller towns on my route to check out their bookshops – a venture that led to a variety of great discoveries. Among them was Persnickety Books in Burlington, North Carolina. This eclectic downtown shop boasts three floors and thousands of mostly used titles. 

One of the first things you’ll notice about Persnickety is its character and charm, from the bright colors of its exterior to its sandwich board sign in front, with humorous bookish quotes and sayings like “Never trust anyone whose TV is bigger than their bookshelf.”

Its website says a passionate staff is there to make sure visitors have a safe and enjoyable literary adventure with every visit, and the shop’s tagline is “Giving books and people a second chance.” An excellent mantra for a bookshop! 

And it isn’t just a marketing tactic. The shop provides part-time employment opportunities at its second book processing location for former felons who are transitioning back into the community. 

The shop opened its doors in historic downtown Burlington in 2017. Original owners Shawna Dron-Gentert and Herb Gentert sold it to then-mayor Ian Baltutis and his wife, Dr. Kristina Baltutis, in 2019, whose goal was to ensure that the bookshop thrived as a welcoming space for all. 

And it is. In addition to the large inventory, the spacious shop includes plenty of places to sit and read, work, have a discussion or – as I happened upon while I was there – enjoy a game of chess. A father was teaching his daughter the game as I passed by.

On my visit, I found an excellently stocked, well organized, vibrant bookshop; a friendly and welcoming staff quick to offer a lunch recommendation to a visitor; and several titles I could check off my running list of wanted books. (Check out the brew pub across the street and the ice cream shop around the corner!)

Persnickety Books is located at 347 S. Main Street, Burlington, North Carolina. Open Tuesday through Sunday.

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