Sunday, October 15, 2006

Borneo Books 2


I recently stumbled into this quaint little shop while walking about aimlessly in Wisma Merdeka. I must be forgiven for not finding this little treasure sooner even as I knew they had opened a branch from their previous ground floor lot because the entrance was a little hidden away way back in a corner past several shops where the people traffic was often less. But truly it is a great bookstore cum art gallery cum used and rare book depositary. What makes it unique from all the other bookstores in Kota Kinabalu is that it has taken the concept of reader's comfort and needs as espoused by larger chains such as Popular, MPH and Kinokuniya in KL and made it a tad more personal and welcoming without sacrificing on privacy, also a first in KK. Look at what their brochure offers; their mission is stated as allowing readers a more intimate setting apart from the crowds and making them feel at home, they offer a lounge area with free coffee for readers and book shoppers. Not only that their dual mission is to help promote local artists offering space to display their work and also provide avenue to attract buyers. In addition to being a comprehensive supplier of books on all matter in Borneo, they offer second hand books for sale as well as rare hard collector first editions for sale. To add sugar to the deal, tourists and visitors from abroad can have their purchases sent via mail to them to avoid carrying heavy luggage. Sounds unique, I bet you it is.


The book store consists of two different lots, the nearest one to the entrance holds the rare book collections with various first printings and titles spanning back more than 50 years old, a look through showed several rare books I don't usually see in many more common bookstores with a lot of foreign titles not sold locally. There are also the used books, selling at a fraction of their original price and while some people may scorn over hand me downs, their conditions are mostly well kept. I found a three book set for Lord of the rings from a 1981 print here to replace my lost omnibus volume and for RM44 it was a steal rather than buying a newer version at RM100 plus. a look at the picture below and you can see an old printing of A.A.Milne for several Winnie the Pooh title, illustrated. Even though pricey I think any serious book collector would want to have it.


Scattered around are various artworks as can be seen in the pictures, the store takes a community service by allowing local talents to display and popularize their works, these are in various forms such as oil and watercolur paintings, wood carvings, metal works and art prints. Truly the fusion of these pieces adds to the atmosphere and enhances the homely feel as you browze through the aisles while making purchases. There are a few workers there that are knowledgeable of the store's contents and are ever more than helpful to guide you to a purchase. Besides that anyone looking for old magazines such as reader's digest, penguin hardcover classics and National Geographic can find them here as well.


The second part of the shop houses the more current books with a large sellection of their specialty book on Borneo concerning such topics as natural sciences, travel books, historical publishing, cultural writings and many more contemporary fiction and non fiction books. Also in their collection are rarrer government archives and old editions of books some dating well over a century which are freely made available to anyone wishing to use them for research or viewing. It was nice to be greeted by a giant stone head sculpture as one entered the main entrance and the theme of art is still present throughout. To the left is a small niche furnished with sofas and coffee freely served for patrons. Reading here with a nicely airconditioned atmosphere with a view of the city and Signal Hill leaves one feeling traquil and relaxed if you ever need to escape the weekend shopping crowd. Well if you ever wish to visit it they are open all week and you may just find some nice surprises awaiting you if you're diligent enough to go through their vast selection. I certainly recommend a look from any serious biblophiles.


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