Single? In a relationship? Married or divorced? This Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t matter if your Facebook relationship status says “it’s complicated.” Everyone can go on a “Blind Date with a Book” when they visit Paperbacks Unlimited in Santa Rosa.

Divorced couples usually go their separate ways, but in the case of co-owners Howard and Jill Brown they remain business partners along with daughter Heather Thurber. Sonoma County residents since 1969, the Browns leased two bookstore locations in the early 70s before moving to their current location on Sonoma Highway, where they spent the last 30 years.

The store is filled with over 100,000 paperbacks and books are sold at half off the publisher’s price. Books are new or gently used and customers can trade in their own paperbacks to earn credit towards a purchase. In a time when bookstores are becoming rare, this local store is always filled with people (and the store’s unofficial mascot, a stray cat named Booker who appeared in 2000 and never left).

From contemporary fiction and mysteries to cowboy westerns and paranormal fiction—the fastest growing genre; there is something for everyone. Howard loves cozy mysteries and takes home 2-3 books a night. He never rereads because there are countless titles to choose from. Jill and Heather are walking search engines—able to suggest titles, or name authors when a customer mentions a book title.

A constant feature in the store, the “Blind Date with a Book” display is located near the register. For just $1 plus tax, choosing this blind date is virtually risk free. Books are wrapped in brown paper with thematic keywords, written in ballpoint pen. Unwrap the book, and you’re greeted with a rubber stamped message that says “Hi, I’m your blind date.” Many avid readers enjoy taking a chance and delight in the surprise. Recently a customer chose a book, paid and left. She returned minutes later and told Howard; “My blind date was actually a second date. But I have a friend who will be the perfect match.”

Paperbacks Unlimited, 4625 Sonoma Hwy, Santa Rosa.

The price is right

Books are only a dollar

Each book has keywords that guide your decision

Book wrapped in paper

Your blind date says “hi”

Rubber stamp message

Surprise! You’re going on a date with author Lisa See!

Blind date revealed



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