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 didΒ 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.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Carly16 April, 2012

    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.

    1. Nate Hoffelder16 April, 2012

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

    2. Logan Kennelly16 April, 2012

      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. Robert Nagle16 April, 2012

    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. Bob16 April, 2012

    Ha Ha.

  4. Fbone16 April, 2012

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

  5. Michael Anderson16 April, 2012

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

    1. Nate Hoffelder16 April, 2012

      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?

      1. Michael Anderson16 April, 2012

        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 πŸ˜‰

        1. Tyler16 April, 2012

          Your blocked at my work but then almost everything is blocked at my work πŸ™‚

  6. willem16 April, 2012

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

  7. fjtorres16 April, 2012

    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.

    1. Nate Hoffelder16 April, 2012

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

      1. fjtorres16 April, 2012

        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.

        1. Tyler16 April, 2012

          That’s not a tantrum. That is a business decision.

          1. fjtorres16 April, 2012

            Stupid, counterproductive hysterical decision = tantrum.
            Picking a fight with Time Warner over a trivial marketing move is not a reasoned strategic move.
            But if that is how *they* think business is carried out…

          2. Peter17 April, 2012

            It can be two things πŸ™‚

  8. Sturmund Drang16 April, 2012

    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….


    1. Nate Hoffelder16 April, 2012

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

      1. Sturmund Drang16 April, 2012

        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…. πŸ™‚

      2. Gary17 April, 2012

        Wouldn’t reflections be reversed?

        1. Sturmund Drang17 April, 2012

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

          1. Gary18 April, 2012

            Sorry! πŸ™‚

            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.

    2. No Name17 April, 2012

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

  9. digital reader fan16 April, 2012

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

  10. :)17 April, 2012

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

  11. Mike Cane17 April, 2012

    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!

    1. Peter17 April, 2012

      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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