Readers enjoy 'blind dates' with books

- They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but you can't even see the covers of books on the "Blind Date" table at Book Culture on the Upper West Side because they're wrapped in brown paper.

"It's us asking you to take a leap of faith on a book we think you'll like based on more popular titles," said Haley Pataio, a manager at the store.

Store employees pick their favorite lesser-known titles, then wrap them up, and write a list of books in the same genre with similar themes to entice readers.

"The most popular ones are ones where the comparable titles are really recognizable like 'Harry Potter,'" Pataio said.

Book Culture is one of a growing number of bookstores around the world offering the blind-date-with-a-book experience. The trend has also become popular at libraries.

Pataio said that the table of wrapped-up books has grown in size and generated big sales since its introduction in October.

"During the holidays we couldn't keep the table stocked," she said. "We've sold thousands of books off this table."

Gerry Weinstein and Mary Habstritt are among those doing the buying.

"It's different, it's intriguing, and it gets attention," Habstritt said.

"I need something to read so maybe I'll take a chance," Weinstein said. "The question is which one?"

If you bring home a "blind date" book and decide you don't like it you can return it, but staff members say that usually only happens when the customer has already read the book.

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