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About Us

Thanks for wanting to learn more about Books and Bao and how to work with us!

Blending diverse literature and culture-based travel, Books and Bao began on January 1st 2018 in Seoul, South Korea. Originally from the UK, founders Jess and Willow have lived in five countries and travelled to many more.

On the travel side, Books and Bao covers literary destinations and places that are perfect for book lovers. We seek out unique destinations that offer an artistic, culinary, or literary flair.

When it comes to literature, we specialise in and promote diverse books from around the world. We spotlight literature in translation, LGBTQ+ authors and stories, and writers of colour.

We wholly believe in learning as much about a culture as possible before travelling there, and this feeds into our writing.

Above all, we believe in storytelling, and you’ll notice that all of our articles and videos are brimming with intimate detail and personal experiences.

We’re native English speakers and have spent significant time in the places we write about. We’re also both freelance writers and video-makers (with portfolios available) meaning we’re used to working to deadline and producing consistently high-quality work.

Who are the writers at Books and Bao?


Jess is the co-founder and editor of Books and Bao, and is passionate about sharing their travel and self-employment tips with others, as well as always capturing those perfect moments.

They’re often running the behind-the-scenes management of the site and taking care of the social channels for Books and Bao, and their side project Nomad Fin.

jess esa

Born to Welsh/Egyptian parents, Jess left their hometown of Swansea, Wales in 2011 and proceeded to live in every corner of the UK, graduating with an MA in English from Exeter University and a PGCE from Cardiff University.

Like many neurodivergent folk, they’ve got a colourful resume that includes numerous cafe and kitchen jobs, many years as a secondary school English teacher, and also a teacher abroad in China, Korea, and Abu Dhabi.

They’ve been self-employed writing and creating social media content for almost five years and have been published in numerous publications for their travel and food writing.

After almost a decade of travelling, they’re now happily married to their wife Arrow and living in Los Angeles.

Follow Jess’s adventures on Instagram or Twitter.


Willow was once asked why she doesn’t simply take vacations and visit places for a week, and this question lies at the heart of her writing.

willow heath books and bao

Willow became a high school teacher in the UK in 2012, but was immediately dissatisfied and felt stagnated by it. And so, after meeting Jess at a job interview, she used her career as an opportunity to jump ship in 2014 (with Jess).

Willow writes about the books of Books and Bao, and manages the brand’s YouTube channel, promoting world literature in translation and books by LGBTQ+ writers.

She believes that reading a culture’s literature is the fastest way to find its heart, and she aims to pass on great literature and travel stories to you.

Willow also works as an audiobook narrator, represented by Spoken4 Voices.

For Willow’s latest book recommendations visit her Instagram or Twitter.

Awards for Books and Bao

Book Blog of the Year 2019 | London Book Blog Awards – Shortlisted

Top 10 UK Literature Blogs | Chosen by Vuelio

Best Art & Culture Blog 2019 | UK Blog Awards – Finalist

Mentions & Features:

The Guardian: What are you reading this week?

The Cardiff Review: 2018 Year in Culture

Work With Books and Bao

Our readers are primarily interested in culture, literature, and food and are travellers at heart. Our readers are from all over the world with the majority of our audience is from the United States and the UK.

For detailed information on the brands, tourism boards, and publishers we’ve already worked with, just get in touch at [email protected]

We’re particularly interested in brands which our readers will love, including:

  • Tours and cultural activities
  • Translated fiction or travel writing for review
  • Unique and themed accommodation
  • Travelling like a local
  • Practical travel products

Brands which we work with can expect from us the height of professionalism. We are quick to produce content after the sponsored event, and we will provide quality articles and photography, as well as several posts across all of our social media sites.

What We Can Provide

Sponsored Posts

If you’d like to discuss a sponsored post (content written by ourselves or yourself) or link placement with us get in touch

Press Trips

We’re very open to discussion on press trips and are always keen to provide photography, video, and written content in exchange for hosting. We can provide our work from previous press trips as well as detailed stats.

We also have been able to place articles from our previous press trips on international media as well as our website due to our journalism links. For example:

Nine Places in Myanmar You Didn’t Know Existed
Tango Chirimen: Discover Kyoto’s Silk Road

Product Reviews

We’re happy to review your travel or bookish related product in exchange for a review

Book Reviews

We’re open to books in exchange for review, we prefer translated literature, diverse literature, or literature with a strong sense of place. We also review nonfiction and poetry.

Write For Books and Bao

All writers get their own bios and links back to their own work. Find out more on our contribute page.