Two publishing pros are 2021’s Barefoot Booksellers

3 mins read

Alice Spencer and Aislinn Shivakumar have quite possibly the best jobs in the world – as Barefoot Booksellers on two stunning Soneva properties in the Maldives.

Alice is a senior press officer at Penguin Random House now on sabbatical to set up the Bookseller on Soneva Jani, a first for the island. Meanwhile, Aislinn is a writer who’s worked with HarperCollins and as a bookseller at Waterstones. She’s now at Soneva Fushi to reopen the bookshop for its third season.

The two won’t just be selling carefully curated books. They will be running creative writing classes, bibliotherapy sessions, and host authors and events. Of course, they will be blogging about their experiences throughout on the Barefoot Bookseller webpage and on Instagram.

Alice and Aislinn were picked from a pool of over 600 applicants. 

Alice, 27, from Bradford, said, “After a turbulent year the last thing I imagined was that I’d be moving over 5000 miles around the world to the Maldives to set up and run a bookshop. But if anything, the strange year made me want to jump in to a new experience even more. Living on a desert island of sandy beaches and crystal waters is the stuff dreams are made of and I am so excited to be the first Barefoot Bookseller on Soneva Jani.”

Aislinn, 29 and from Ireland said, ‘It’s a chance in a lifetime. To work in a bookshop on a luxury resort in the Maldives, surrounded by incredible views, leading sustainability research and a fantastic cast of colleagues and guests. When I stumbled across the position in a group chat, I knew I had to apply. I had recently finished my MA and a position with HarperCollins in the digital marketing and E-commerce team and, after the year we’ve had, when I saw I had all the requirements and desired skills, I threw my lot in and flew out a few weeks later. From returning to joy of bookselling, to finding the time to once again work on my writing, it’s absolutely one of the world’s dream jobs.’

An idea by Soneva founder Sonu Shivdasani and Philip Blackwell, CEO of Ultimate Library, The Barefoot Bookseller took its first breath in 2018. 

Ultimate Library works around the world to create bespoke book collections for different clients ranging from hotels to private individuals.