Whenever I go to a shopping complex, there are only two kinds of shops I will automatically head for - the toys department, and the bookstore.
When I was a kid, my parents would always bring me to bookstores because it was the only place where I would actually sit still in one place and not kick up a fuss about wanting a Transformer toy. This was during my primary school years, when I was reading lots of books. Put a nice book in my hands (those days, it was Enid Blyton books), and I was nice and quiet for at least an hour.
After I progress to er... 'deeper' books during secondary school, I would still hang out in shopping mall bookstores whenever my family took the rare trip down to KL from our little town of Temerloh. You see, Temerloh had more magazine stores - a grand total of TWO stalls - than actual bookstores. I was pretty deprived of bookstores back then, to say the least.
Anyway, whenever I was at a book store, I would try to finish at least ONE book there. I remember standing at the MPH in Sungai Wang for two whole hours, trying to finish Silence of the Lambs (I managed to get up to the final two chapters, then it was time to go home. Very agonizing); and countless store attendants telling me to get my butt off the floor, stop blocking the aisles and BUY something for a change.
When Kinokuniya first opened at KLCC, I rejoiced. FINALLY, a large bookstore that is easily accessible, where I didn't have to brave horrendous traffic jams to get to, had lots of good books, and a coffee place that had decent coffee. They even had nice benches to sit on and read my books! I finished countless books there (mostly books that I would never have bought in hardcover, but wanted badly to read it ASAP), and even had my own favorite spot in the bookstore.
Then, Kinokuniya decided that too many people were doing that (and damaging the books at the same time), and started to shrink-wrap their books so no one could flip through them.
Alas! What a tragedy!
I was dismayed, and utterly shattered. Gone were my happy days of sitting in my quiet corner, devouring Forgotten Realms books. No more flipping through chapters just to see whether the book was worth buying. I also spent considerably less time in Kinokuniya after that.
These days, I have money to actually BUY the books, so I don't read at bookstores much nowadays. Also, since I discovered Payless Books, my purchases from Kinokuniya or MPH have been significantly less.
I miss reading at bookstores though. Somehow, its a lot more fun, and the environment is more relaxed (for me, that is). I feel COMPELLED to continue reading a book, rather than when at home, where I tend to get lazy and turn on the TV instead.
Plus it's free. Who can complain about THAT? :-)