‘Barefoot bookseller’ sought to run island bookshop in Maldives

Soneva Fushi Resort is located in the Baa Atoll within Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The island can be reached by a 40 Minute Seaplane flight from Male International Airport.

Its among the multi-award-winning Maldives Luxury Resort, where guests are welcome to indulge in the list of excursions or do nothing at all. With the laid back motto of ‘’No News No Shoes’’ you know you are in for a relaxing time far from it all at Soneva Fushi Resort.

Soneva Fushi Resort is a main Robinson Crusoe style hideaway in the Maldives and is among the exclusive tropical heaven islands of Kunfunadhoo Island. photo: @sonevafushiresort.com

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “‘Barefoot bookseller’ sought to run island bookshop in Maldives” was written by Alison Flood, for The Guardian on Thursday 24th September 2020 12.27 UTC

For those in dismay at the prospect of wet, dark evenings and social isolation this autumn, a luxury desert island resort in the Maldives is looking for a live-in bookseller to start next month.

The eco resort of Soneva Fushi, on Kunfunadhoo Island in the Maldives, has played host to three “barefoot booksellers” since 2018: the most recent, Chrissy Ryan, left in April as the coronavirus pandemic swept the world. But with the Maldives reopening to international visitors, Soneva Fushi is now in need of a bookseller to run a smallshop on the private island, with the contract set to run from the end of October until after Easter.

“The Maldives is pretty much Covid-free and the resort that we operate with has its own medical centre, and strict and rigorous testing procedures, so it’s a very safe place to be. They’re expecting people to come and we are minded to take the punt to reopen our bookshop and see what passing trade comes our way,” said Philip Blackwell, the CEO of Ultimate Library, which runs the bookshop with Soneva Fushi and provides library collections for holiday destinations around the world.

When the position of “barefoot bookseller” was previously advertised, Blackwell received thousands of applications from people desperate to escape the grind of daily life.

“Last time we had everybody from the White House press corps to film directors, lawyers, IT managers, beach poets, retired librarians,” said Blackwell, who is a member of the British bookselling family that sold their chain in 2006. “What works best is somebody with bookselling experience. They’ve got to love people and selling books, and they’ve got to know about books. They’ve also got to be adventurous because this is not for somebody to sit in a bookshop eight hours a day, this is for people to get out there, engage with guests and help people on their reading journey, because reading for pleasure is a muscle that, like any other muscle in the body, is traditionally under-used until people go on holiday.”

The job application calls for “excellent written and verbal English skills; a lively tone of voice to write entertaining blogs and newsletters that capture the exhilarating life of a desert island bookseller, and the skills to host workshops and events”, as well as “a can-do attitude with a strong understanding of working independently”. Whoever is selected will undergo job training remotely before flying to the Maldives.

“They’ll have sand between their toes rather than slush between their feet, and the chance to really test themselves,” said Blackwell.

Writing on the Barefoot Bookseller blog, Ryan said her time in the Maldives had been “a whirlwind of adventure where I have developed new passions, discovered new skills and built new friendships”.

“I’ve moved 6,000 miles across the planet, left my friends and family behind me and found a whole new community on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I’ve tested my boundaries and rediscovered my sense of self,” she wrote.

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