March 31, 2023


The Tour And Travel Enthusiasts

Wanted: desert island resort in Maldives seeks barefoot bookseller | Maldives

2 min read
Wanted: desert island resort in Maldives seeks barefoot bookseller | Maldives

White sands, blue skies… and lots of books. Applications have opened for what might just be the best job in the world: running a bookshop on a luxury desert island in the Maldives.

Passionate lovers of books – who are also adventurous, outgoing, creative and don’t mind spending all day barefoot – are sought for the year-long contract, which starts in October and involves moving to live on the remote island of Kunfunadhoo in the Indian Ocean.

The bookselling takes place barefoot, because no shoes are allowed to be worn on the island. Reading a newspaper, even one as compelling as the Observer, would also be frowned upon.

“The ethos of the island is: no shoes, no news. They encourage guests to reconnect with the ground,” said Alex McQueen, spokesperson for Ultimate Library, which runs the bookshop with the Soneva Fushi resort, and provides bespoke library collections for hotels, resorts and private residences around the world.

Georgie Polhill reading to
Georgie Polhill with an enrapt audience. Photograph: Barefoot Bookseller

Guests at the resort – usually high net worth individuals – are encouraged to switch off from the digital world and allow their “barefoot butlers” to attend to their needs.

McQueen said the island’s bookseller will need to be a self-starter who is happy to introduce themselves to guests and provide them with personalised book recommendations. The successful applicant will be solely responsible for the day-to-day running of the bookshop, including accounting and stock management. “The applicant will be there on their own, so they’re pretty much running the whole thing themselves.”

For this reason, he is ideally looking for someone with bookselling or publishing experience.

Accommodation for one on the island is provided free of charge and all meals are free. There’s also a gym, access to a spa and watersports like diving, and staff have their own private beach.

The basic salary is $750 a month (around £620) but it is expected the bookseller will be able to earn extra “service fees” on top by, for example, offering book-related workshops or classes to guests.

Georgie Polhill, 27, who recently finished a six-month contract as a bookseller on the island, said one of the biggest challenges she faced as a “turbocharged Londoner” was getting used to the slow, relaxed pace of life on the island. “If you tried to fight it too much and harry everyone on to get things done, you would absolutely burst a blood vessel.

“I came back a very different person. I learned an entirely new culture. I made friends that I will have for life.”

She had previously worked for a bookseller in London but will start a new career in theatre on Monday.

This has meant adjusting to wearing shoes again – something which she said “definitely felt weird,” at first. “I was so unused to wearing anything around my toes and my heels.”