If you think of "Wordo", then you are on the right track!
This secret method is indeed my adaptation of a Barrie Richardson's adaptation of the old "Wordo" principle (You are strongly advised to read the Richardson's effect, "Word Flight" in his Theater Of The Mind book).
The gimmick used by Richardson was simply a small rectangular piece of paper cut out from a newspaper and, on that piece of paper, you had to stick a strip of invisible scotch tape. That strip had to be a little longer and wider than the piece of paper.
Now, as I've said, my version, even if it has some analogies with Richardson's version, is quite different in some points. First, I wanted to use this old "Wordo" principle with books but I did not want to have to tear up a page (or more pages) from a book in order to perform and neither to use gimmicked playing cards or business cards. Those, in my opinion, would have been a step back if compared against the adaptation that Richardson devised for that principle. Second, I wanted to have that double impossibility of two participants ending up with the same word.
Without further ado, let's examine how I accomplish all of that.
First of all, here too you will have to cut out a rectangular piece of paper from a book but, here, you aim for a blank piece of paper, big enough for what you will need to do with it, later. We only need that kind of paper to act as a little camouflage (by the way, be sure that the book you are cutting out the piece of paper from is printed on the same kind of paper that the books you will use during your performances are printed on!) and you can find that a lot of books have some blank pages here and there or, at worst, have some blank space / pages between the end of a chapter and the beginning of another chapter.
Now, with my blank rectangular piece of book-paper ready, I pre-show one participant and I secretly discover which word she has freely selected (many ways to get your secret knowledge here, so choose the one that best suits you!) Then, when I'm in my "secret place", I take my blank piece of book-paper and, on that piece of paper, I write the word chosen by my first participant with the help of some Letraset™ transfer lettering (*). When I'm done with that, I stick a length of invisible scotch tape over the Letraset™ printed word (this, by the way, will also protect the word by being accidentally scratched off!) and I'm all set to go!
I must mention the subtlety that I've came up with to be sure that the assisting participant - in that brief moment in which he has his eyes open - could not read another word than the one I want him to read, even if he wanted to!
This subtlety has to do with the books I use. While I could use any kinds of book for this experiment, I only use books that have dust jackets on (most of the hardbound books always come with their dust jackets on!) and, before the actual performance, I secretly turn upside-down the dust jackets of each and every book so that, later, when the dust jackets will apparently show that the books are in what would be a "upright" or reading position, the books will instead be bottoms up.
So, in a nutshell, when your second participant randomly opens the book, in the action of taking it back from him and getting ready for him to open his eyes, you secretly stick that piece of book-paper into, approximately, the center of the chosen (upside-down) page. The rest is done by your theatrical skills, so are you ready to dare?
(*) Some of the Letraset™ font types I suggest you are:
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