Tom Campbell, co-owner of the bookstore with John Valentine, explained that the name is "a reference to obscure local history. In the 1760s in this part of North Carolina, there was an uprising against the colonial government, which was based near the coast. In this part of the state there were just small farmers, and the corrupt colonial officials were stealing people's farms for nonpayment of taxes....
"These farmers called themselves the Regulators because at first they were naively petitioning the state's governor for better regulation of these corrupt colonial officials, but the governor responded to their petition by calling out the troops. There was a battle about 15 miles from here in which the governor's troops faced a bunch of ragtag farmers." The Battle of Alamance did not go well for the Regulators.
"When we first opened the store in 1976, no one really knew very much about the name," said Campbell. "We thought it was local, historical, a bit obscure, and rebellious, and we liked all of those connotations." He added that the name's rebellious connotations still resonate: "When Regulator Bookshop first started out, we had a certain political and social orientation, which was probably even more pronounced back then, because we were carrying books on feminism and social change that weren't widely available. We were one of the only alternatives around here at the time. We still certainly do have that same social and political orientation. It's rebellious just being an independent bookstore in North Carolina these days