Go On A Blind Date... With A Book

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover — but what about the title, author and plot? In a bid to lure customers back from the ebook market, one plucky book store has begun selling novels that are completely wrapped in brown paper. A few vague words are your only hint to what lies within...

It's no secret that book stores are doing it tough, with Collins, Angus & Robinson and Borders all shutting up shops in recent years. We therefore admire the sheer gumption of Elizabeth’s Bookshops in NSW and WA, which is attempting to sell its wares sight unseen to indecisive customers — they call it the paperback "blind date".

"A lot of people who come into our store don't know what they want to buy so they just browse or ask for a recommendation," explained Ryan, an Elizabeth’s Bookshop employee from the Pitt Street store in Sydney.

"One of our staff members thought it would be a good idea to set up a kind of lucky-dip table where you get to pick a book at random. I was really skeptical that it wouldn't work at all, but it's been really successful. It's actually a really good promotional tool for our stores."

All 'blind date' book covers are completely covered in brown paper — with just a few vague word cues scrawled on the front to give you an idea about the book's content.

"We just offer a broad topic which hints at the genre, so if you feel like reading an adventure or romance you can search for the relevant word cues."

Our inner cynic immediately suspected a ploy to offload unwanted stock, but the company assures us that all blind date books are "quality". Mind you, that's obviously a matter of personal opinion — I thought Moby Dick was rubbish, and that's widely regarded to be the best book in the English language. There's no accounting for taste, as they say.

Nevertheless, it's certainly a novel idea (cough) and it seems to be bringing in additional revenue which any brick-and-mortar book store needs to be thankful for.

Would you buy a book completely unseen? Let us know what you think about this curious marketing gimmick in the comments section below.


    Don't know where you got the idea that Collins (as a company) has closed down? Last I checked they have shops all over the place.

      They haven't closed down fully but a bunch of the stores have shut.

    Libraries have been doing this for a while now. I can understand borrowing for a blind date, but I wouldn't want to pay for it.

      If you pay for it it's not technically a "date"

        LOL!! Gotta be the best comment I've read in ages!! :))


        Would this be considered going 'dutch'?

    Oh I love this, unfortunately in SA not NSW or WA

    I was in Sydney last year and spent hours in the Pitt Street store of Elizabeth's Bookshop. I loved their "bargain books" section and the helpful store clerk. Love this idea and hope it sticks around till I get a chance to visit Sydney again (I'm back in India now)

    I love the idea! I find I restrict myself to genres that I have always read and that I am rather picky about the look of the book itself. Using keywords and hiding the cover enables mystery, suspense and surprise! <3

    As a book fanatic who is also incredibly indecisive, this is a great idea.

    I thought Moby Dick was rubbish as well. I suffered through the whole thing just so I could say that I had read it and so I could recommend it to people I didn't like.

    I'd love it! I simply love reading. It's a great idea; to find a book based on theme rather than popularity. I think it'd be a great way to discover new authors.

    For interested Melburnians, Robinsons Bookshop (at Chadstone as far as I know) also offer a "blind date with a book" if you're interested to try it out for yourself


    (Just an FYI, I'm not affiliated with the bookstore)

    We did this at our library, and it was a big hit!!!

    So here I am Stumbling around and this pops up!!! I was just in a bookstore in Frenchtown, NJ, and they had a basket of blind dates. Love it.

    I think it's great! I can never decide what to read next. I could just pick one!

      Here's a free six month amazon bestseller.

    This is such a great idea, I would definitely grab one of these as an experiment. I love discovering new genres and authors so yeah, sounds awesome :)

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