Why is Barnes & Noble So Afraid Of My Blog?

I wrote a post late last Friday night in response to an insulting email from B&N. I was a little ticked that B&N could be so obnoxious, but I was also pleased to discover how I could make them squirm. You see, B&N's marketing dept wouldn't invite me to the Nook launch event last Thursday because they don't like how I have been finding and reporting on stories that either embarrass them or leak details that they'd prefer to keep hidden. To put it simply, I'm too good at my job.

Today I learned that not only did B&N ban me from press events, they are so annoyed with my coverage that they decided to block me on their internal network.

Seriously, B&N corporate won't let their store employees visit my blog from store computers. Store staff can visit Engadget, Gizmodo, and pretty much every other blog on the web - just not mine.

I know that is hard to believe, and in fact I didn't believe it either. But it's true and I have a couple photos to prove it. I have a number of B&N contacts at the store level, and one of the ones from NYC passed these photos along to me. The first shows the blog of my competition, and the second shows what happens when a B&N employee tries to visit my blog.

I don't know about you, but I find this deeply amusing. I am one blogger, with one small ebook gadget blog, and I have managed to make them squirm. This implies that I have a level of influence much higher than I'd ever considered. While I have seen Amazon and Apple act in ways that suggest someone is reading my blog, I've never had proof quite this explicit before.

You know, for the longest time I've cherished a dream of one day being as influential (in my own small way) as, for example, James Kendrick. Thanks to B&N I now know that this isn't a dream but an achievable goal.

P.S. If anyone at Barnes & Noble is reading this and wants to make peace, you know where to find me. Even though I enjoy a good confrontational relationship, it's not the most productive way to interact.

About Nate Hoffelder (11392 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

28 Comments on Why is Barnes & Noble So Afraid Of My Blog?

  1. Not to burst your bubble, but is it possible they blocked your hosting company? Your blog is blocked at my office, and we are definitely not a B&N. But you, birthdayshoes.com, and a few other of my fave blogs are inexplicably blocked. Usually that’s because they did a blanket block of everyone from a certain web host. For a while blogspot was blocked, then it wasnt. Then WordPress.org stuff was blocked…it was weird.

    So if they use the same filters it’s possible you got caught in the net.

    • That would be the most likely cause if not for the other issues with B&N corporate.

    • That is an interesting theory. Nate, can you ask your contact to attempt to contact stats.hornet.arvixe.com (which also hosts your site)? While it’s still possible they blocked you, it would at least be interesting to know whether they blocked you, specifically, or your host.

  2. Amazing! The funny thing is, I consider your coverage to be fairly pro-Nook (relatively speaking).

    The network thing may be an anomaly, but I have to admit that I check DR to find out about the latest discounts on refurbished Nooks.

    It’s one thing to deny somebody access to their showcase events; it’s another thing to forbid people from accessing it on the network. (By the way, do they block amazon.com as well?)

  3. I couldn’t access your site from home earlier today. Not the same as blocked but end result is the same.

  4. Yes Nate – as Carly mentioned it isn’t all about you! 🙂 Your site is also blocked at my work (I can only reach it on my iPad.

    • That could be it, but consider this.

      My blog falls under the category of work related site for at least some of the people at B&N. I should have been unblocked fairly quickly, wouldn’t you agree?

      • I get what you are saying, but IT systems and the software solutions used can be widely varied and differ from site to site and even within directorate within an organization. In my previous job I saw a wide array of these sorts of issues, where one equipment vendor I worked with kept ending up blocked if I switched groups or whenever a new corporate initiative came through … and in my current position I hae seen sites go blocked & unblocked too often.

        So I gues ‘I dunno’ is about my answer 😉

  5. This is only a temporary glitch – it’s a pretty safe bet that your blog will last longer than B&N…

  6. Other explanations might be *possible* but what is most *likely*, given B&N’s past record of throwing tantrums at the slightest provocation, is that they have blacklisted Nate.
    Their management has proven itself over the last year to be self-destructively thin-skinned so this is just another example of how insecure those folks feel.

    • What other tantrums have they thrown, besides the nasty email I got?

      • The DC Comics thing, for one.
        They made a big show of pulling the graphic novels off the shelves over a timed exclusive for Amazon, as if *they* haven’t been signing up exclusives of the own. And not just timed ones, either.

  7. Okay, I wear a tinfoil hat. But hear me out anyway.

    What if they were blocking you, because they are afraid of you? If I was a Junior High School Hall Monitor^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^ Proxy Manager having you especially under my gimlet eye, and I found out you were being fed information like this from one a mole under my jurisdiction I would be checking my logs right now for someone who had gone out to the-digital-reader.com, then ebookreader.com, then the-digital-reader.com again, today before 2pm. I would log the machine names; that would be about 1 to 10 machines. Afterwards I’d check with the managers to see who had books behind the desks that matched the reflection in the photo you generously provided. Let’s see that would be something by Ernest Hemingway, A Tree Grows in Brooklin, and To Kill A Mockingbird if I read it right. That might isolate my witch hunt to a single Benedict Arnold, or two at most. Then I’d contact HR.

    I’m just saying….

    🙂

    • There are books reflected on the screen? I didn’t see that.

      • Looks more like a poster now that I study it; and that would make it much more generic and harder to trace. And it’s nice to see your photos don’t have any metadata in them. I was just kidding anyway. Most proxy managers that I know of can’t read so we’re safe here from his prying eyes. Assuming “he” exists.

        Again…. 🙂

      • Wouldn’t reflections be reversed?

        • Everytime you get a really juicy paranoia going some spoil sport comes around and throws reality at you.

          • Sorry! 🙂

            If it’s any consolation, I didn’t notice this at first. Then I got to to thinking – what was the source then? My initial thought was that it was some sort of screen “burn-in”, but I wasn’t happy with this explanation since it didn’t appear to extend outwith that top area. Now I’m thinking that it’s simply a graphical effect, like a texture, in the background of that banner area.

    • Are you sure those are reflections?? The covers look too close to be organized on a counter, maybe its just a banner?

  8. digital reader fan // 16 April, 2012 at 7:04 pm // Reply

    Controversy drives marketing. This will just make your site traffic even more popular. It was all for free, pretty good deal I think.

  9. Just make sure the person that fed you these photos does not end up being harmed.

  10. It’s very simple to find out if this site was blocked by B&N: Were the employees able to access it before last week? If yes, then specifically blocked. QED. Next!

    • Keep on rockin’ Nate

      Not sure if this is related or not, but over on linkedin, Barnes and Noble’s company feed shows they hired a new Sr. Facilities/Security Coordinator 12 days ago, and also put up a listing for a Senior Security Administrator:

      Essential Functions:

      Monitor Web Security Gateway, security event logs, security emails, firewalls and IDS activity.
      Incident Management – Identify, isolate and remediate.
      Expansion – Validate business need for new rules, review, and update existing rules as business needs change.
      Daily Maintenance – Keep group definitions and rule-sets updated.
      Correlate forensic data around security events.
      ID/password management, data classification, and risk assessment.
      Administration of web and spam filtering/Firewall.

      Some credit card security stuff, but also sounds like a leak proofer.

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