KL-based Sabahan brings Borneo's literary treasures to life through Bundusan Books

KOTA KINABALU: What began as a personal quest for resources has blossomed into a cherished haven for Borneo literature enthusiasts.

Jesse Joy, a graphic designer and artist from Putatan, founded Bundusan Books in 2022 following the release of his documentary film "Finding Bundusan."

His journey to unearth Borneo's rich heritage has now become a gateway for others to explore the region's vibrant history and culture through books.

"I started Bundusan Books after I realised how difficult it was to find resources for my documentary.

"I began collecting books about Borneo and sharing them online. When people started asking where they could get copies, I saw an opportunity to provide these books, and thus, Bundusan Books was born."

Bundusan Books boasts a diverse collection, with hundreds of titles focusing on Borneo, both old and new.

Jesse's passion for literature extends beyond Borneo, encompassing various genres and subjects such as the Orang Asli, art, architecture, fiction, and children's books, predominantly authored by Malaysians.

"I contact suppliers and authors to see if they still have certain books in stock, but I also enjoy visiting book fairs to discover new titles for my (virtual) shop.

"The books I sell range from RM10 to hundreds of ringgit. The most expensive book I've sold was a collectible called 'Hornbill and Dragon,' which was RM800."

Jesse, who is based in Kuala Lumpur and frequently participates as a vendor at events nationwide, often hears from people impressed by the range of books available about Borneo.

"They share their own stories and experiences, recalling old books they read or events that happened in their kampung.

"A lot of my customers are repeat buyers, and I want to offer them something new each time they visit my booth.

Despite the aspiration, Jesse said running Bundusan Books comes with its challenges, especially with the slim margins in the book-selling business.

He handles most operations himself, balancing his role as a graphic designer for a publishing company to cover bills, while all the income from book sales goes back into running the store.

He occasionally hires part-time assistants for events.

"Selling books is tough. The margins are small, and I do most things by myself. I rely on my full-time job to cover bills, and all the income from selling books goes towards running Bundusan Books."

Jesse also hopes to showcase the potential of local publications and inspire trust in his ability to help others tell their stories.

With a background in broadcasting, film, and a flexible career in graphic design, the 33-year-old Jesse Joy is determined to ensure that the literary heritage of Borneo is preserved and accessible for generations to come.

"I also aim to cultivate an ecosystem in Sabah with skills and expertise in publishing – editing, layout designing, illustration. It's not that we lack these talents, but it's beneficial to highlight them."

Yesterday, Bundusan Books launched its first publication "Cerita Dusun Dari Kota Belud" in conjunction with Jesselton Artisan Market's 7th anniversary at Riverson near here.

The book was edited by journalist Ricardo Unto and illustrated by Anas Hussain.

"Through the publication of the book, I hope that people can see the potential of their book and trust Bundusan Books to help them tell their stories."

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