Elizabeth opened her first tiny second-hand bookshop (a “book exchange”) in 1973, in the Perth university suburb of Nedlands, Western Australia. Over the next 43 years, Elizabeth’s Bookshops have grown into one of Australia’s largest second-hand retailers, with a stock of over one million books, and branches in Sydney and Perth.
It's still run by Elizabeth and her family and has remained proudly independent.
How does your bookstore feel when you walk in? What do people come in seeking?
Each Elizabeth’s Bookshop feels like an old-fashioned used bookstore should. It’s somewhat like walking into a time-warp. However, it is exceptionally well organized—with large sections devoted to popular fiction and nonfiction genres. We are especially strong in Literary Fiction, Children’s Books, History, Philosophy and New Age.
Since Elizabeth’s buys, sells and trades thousands of books every week, stock turnover is enormous, and so there are always interesting discoveries to be made on the miles of bookshelves.
Many of our clients have visited Elizabeth’s every week for many years, including several that were customers as university students back in the 1970s.
How did Blind Date with a Book come about?
Blind Date with a Book started on a cold and rainy night in our King Street store in Newtown, Sydney. We are always fielding requests for book recommendations and we wanted to help people choose books they might not pick for themselves.
One of our staff members began choosing books that were not on people’s radar but were great reads. They were then wrapped in brown paper with a few clues written on the front. It was a surprising and instant hit with the customers.
The books are chosen and wrapped by the whole staff, so we cover a wide range of genres. The curated collection includes everything from mystery, romance, classics, horror, adventure, science fiction to kids books.
So Blind Dates help people not judge books by their covers?
Both new and experienced readers love the concept. New readers who are overwhelmed by the 300,000 books in the shop love the ease of choosing a book out of a curated selection. Seasoned readers love that it allows them to step out of their comfort zones.
Some enjoy the game of guessing what’s inside, others love the simplicity of the packaging, and many just enjoy the lucky dip scenario.
Now that we have also established blinddatewithabook.com, people all over the world can visit our website and set up a blind date for themselves or a friend. The date will arrive right on your doorstep.