Diving into a date with a book


Anna Jacobson

The “Blind Date With a Book” program, located in the checkout corner of Chamblin’s Uptown.

In a small bookstore, with books piled up to the top of the ceiling and shelves overflowing containing new novels to read, one small corner at Chamblin’s Uptown gets overlooked.

A recent initiative, started by employee Louise Lee, is known as the “Blind Date With a Book.”

According to manager of the Chamblin’s Uptown location, Cäri Hamoui, this small feature that was recently added to Chamblin’s is often left unnoticed, at least until customers make their way to the checkout line and discover the small basket containing books wrapped in brown paper, waiting to be discovered by adventurous clientele.

Bugle staff with their books. (Megan Howard)

“Although many of our customers usually buy these books as kind of an impulse purchase, they all seem to really enjoy the books,” Hamoui explained. “The wide variety of genres and authors allow for just about anybody to pick up a book and enjoy it.”

Despite the fact that the brown paper packaging conceals the various titles and intricate covers of the books, a small description is provided for customers to browse through, allowing them to choose from a large range of books, containing both nonfiction and fiction texts.

Chamblin’s Uptown, located in downtown Jacksonville. (WJTC News)

However, the idea for the “Blind Date with a Book” didn’t just suddenly appear. “We actually originally started this whole thing out of an act of desperation. We had too many books that weren’t getting sold, and after being inspired by smaller, independent bookstores, we decided to try advertising it as a ‘blind date with a book,’” Hamoui stated.

Eventually, as the “Blind Date with a Book,” initiative caught on, Chamblin’s began expanding the number of books offered in the program. Hamoui added that the program was designed in order to encourage people to spontaneously pick up a book and relax in one of the small reading areas scattered around the bookstore. “We try to make Chamblin’s feel like a home. We even play soothing music and our staff are always trying to help customers find that perfect book.”

“Chamblin’s is just this amazing place where you could spend days here. With the amazing staff, cafe, and literally millions of books to choose from, it truly is one of the most unique bookstores,” Hamoui added.