All of Barnes & Noble’s Computer Systems Are Down, and I do Mean All of Them

Barnes & Noble is going through the mother of all system crashes right now.

Some time late Friday night or early Saturday morning the retailer’s entire IT backbone crashed, and it took almost all of the company’s functionality with it. Everything from the cash registers to the catalog lookup is down. Even the Nook platform is down.

Edit: A number of B&N employees have called me on this, and they are right when they said that I exaggerated. The systems were still functional, albeit severely crippled by what some reports described as a ransomware/trojan/virus.

What’s even worse is that it’s Tuesday morning, and everything is still borked. I just checked the B&N website, and while I can see the site I cannot log in, much less buy anything. I also cannot access any of the Nook features.

UPDATE: B&N’s systems are mostly back up around 3 pm eastern.

There are unconfirmed reports on Reddit that B&N has been attacked by a virus or other malware. Given that we are now on day four of this situation, it is more than likely that they are correct.

Second Update: Yep, they were hacked.

I would advise you to start combing through your credit card statements for B&N charges. If I shopped there I would contact the credit card companies so they could add security checks on my cards just in case a hacker did make off with credit card numbers.

As we recall from the Bowker hack in 2018, sometimes the first public evidence of a hack is bogus credit card charges.

Thanks, Steve!

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor 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.

81 Comments

  1. Steve13 October, 2020

    I just received this update from B&N via email:

    Dear NOOK Customer,

    We sincerely apologize for the present disruption to your NOOK service. We are experiencing an interruption to our system that has caused us to restore our server backups. Unfortunately, while this is underway, NOOK customers are unable to access the library held on these servers.

    The system will be restored as soon as possible, at which time your library will be made available again.

    You will be receiving a reward to use online or in our stores as soon as the service is back to normal.

    We sincerely regret any inconvenience this has caused you.

    The NOOK Team

    Reply
    1. Cindy13 October, 2020

      I can honestly say I am unable to access my library.
      Y Nook will not download previously read books from the cloud. This is going on day 4.

      Reply
    2. Judy Shields14 October, 2020

      I have not gotten anything from Barnes and Noble regarding this. I hope it is fixed soon. I’m having withdrawal because I read everything on my Nook.

      Reply
      1. Yvonne Van Every14 October, 2020

        I have thousands if dollars worth of books in the book cloud. This is really hard to deal with since I read every night. What is going to happen if they can’t get this fixed? Do we just loose all of our books/money?

        Reply
    3. Walter Moon14 October, 2020

      How about letting us know when the system works.

      Reply
    4. Christian Arts14 October, 2020

      As of this writing, Nook is still not available to me and no end in sight. I never did get an email from BN to let me know there was an issue so that was disappointing as I”ve been a customer for many years with several nooks over that time.

      Reply
    5. Jennifer Factor14 October, 2020

      I just received an email stating that my information may have been compromised. I know this happens late Friday October 9 or Saturday October 10 because my Nook app would not work. They did not notify customers in sufficient time.

      Reply
      1. Nate Hoffelder14 October, 2020

        Did that email come from B&N? Can you send it to me? ([email protected])

        Reply
        1. LT14 October, 2020

          Dear Barnes & Noble Customer,

          It is with the greatest regret we inform you that we were made aware on October 10, 2020 that Barnes & Noble had been the victim of a cybersecurity attack, which resulted in unauthorized and unlawful access to certain Barnes & Noble corporate systems.

          We write now out of the greatest caution to let you know how this may have exposed some of the information we hold of your personal details.

          Firstly, to reassure you, there has been no compromise of payment card or other such financial data. These are encrypted and tokenized and not accessible. The systems impacted, however, did contain your email address and, if supplied by you, your billing and shipping address and telephone number. We currently have no evidence of the exposure of any of this data, but we cannot at this stage rule out the possibility. We give below answers to some frequently asked questions.

          We take the security of our IT systems extremely seriously and regret sincerely that this incident has occurred. We know also that it is concerning and inconvenient to receive notices such as this. We greatly appreciate your understanding and thank you for being a Barnes & Noble customer.

          Barnes & Noble
          FAQ

          1. Have my payment details been exposed?
          No, your payment details have not been exposed. Barnes & Noble uses technology that encrypts all credit cards and at no time is there any unencrypted payment information in any Barnes & Noble system.

          2. Could a transaction be made without my authorization?
          No, no financial information was accessible. It is always encrypted and tokenized.

          3. Was my email compromised?
          No. Your email was not compromised as a result of this attack. However, it is possible that your email address was exposed and, as a result, you may receive unsolicited emails.

          4. Was any personal information exposed due to the attack?
          While we do not know if any personal information was exposed as a result of the attack, we do retain in the impacted systems your billing and shipping addresses, your email address and your telephone number if you have supplied these.

          5. Do you retain any other information in the impacted systems?
          Yes, we also retain your transaction history, meaning purchase information related to the books and other products that you have bought from us.

          Reply
      2. Caitlyn DeAmbra14 October, 2020

        Same. I have been locked out since at least Friday, and still can’t access anything.

        HINT: Do not log out and log back in to the app. Anything downloaded on your device should still be there at least, but if you log out, you lose your connection completely. I had surgery Friday and was counting on my 550+ book library to keep me busy. Now I can’t access a single book.

        Reply
        1. Janet C Hoehler14 October, 2020

          Some of my books are on SD card. Have no trouble retrieving them. But the ones in the cloud?……nope! Wish they had notified me. I kept yelling at my husband to fix the stupid WIFI !!!

          Reply
        2. Donna15 October, 2020

          As of this morning 9am est, my Nook library is back. I never logged out just stayed patient. So far no credit has been compromised. Hope everyone else is back. What a mess!!

          Reply
    6. Daphne Kennon14 October, 2020

      My Nook was a gift from my husband a few years back and I love it. Please help us. I knew there was a problem. Then I read a blog on Google that it would be corrected by Sunday.

      The site is still down and I have nothing to read. Please advise when you think you may be up and running. I understand this should be your priority. I don’t want to switch.

      Sincerely, Daphne Kennon

      Reply
  2. Mike13 October, 2020

    Registers, catalog, just about everything but nook is back and operational.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder13 October, 2020

      And I can log in to the website.

      So I guess it is fixed (mostly).

      Reply
    2. Jana Mason13 October, 2020

      Mine isn’t. I still can’t access my preordered books. I hope it is fixed soon.

      Reply
  3. Patti Southern13 October, 2020

    GIVE ME AN ESTIMATE TIME WHEN MY NOOK WILL WORK. BECAUSE THERE WAS NO EMAIL STATING THIS ISSUE I TRANSFERED ALL MY BOOKS AND NOW I CAN’T EVEN READ ANY OLD BOOKS. THIS IS A DISGRACE. AN I DONT KNOW IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

    Reply
    1. Chuck Dee13 October, 2020

      I think you should be directing your ire towards B&N. Nate just reports what he finds, and won’t be able to get you the answers you seek. And yelling in all caps isn’t going to change that.

      Reply
    2. Vanessa Idoy13 October, 2020

      You need to calm down. I get that it all wasn’t working. But blowing up is not going to help.

      Reply
    3. James13 October, 2020

      And as a former 15 year former Manager of Barnes and Nobel, this is why I love my books…..they never crash on me!

      Reply
      1. Janet C Hoehler14 October, 2020

        But can you carry 1200 books around in your pocket?

        Reply
  4. P13 October, 2020

    I can tell you that I cannot log in, I cannot access anything. My nook app is blank and there is nothing in my account. So I am going to assume that all my books are gone. This had to be a virus. But B&N is to blame. They have antiquated systems.

    IThis should be the end if the company.

    Reply
    1. M13 October, 2020

      That’s pretty hardcore to wish something like that on a company who employs hundreds of thousands of people. And also, your books aren’t gone forever – you’ll get them back. They are stored on the cloud, not on your device.

      Reply
  5. P13 October, 2020

    Btw, I contacted B&N and they said all they would ever offer as compensation is a 20% off coupon my next purchase.

    No way, I’m done with their company

    Reply
    1. Nicole13 October, 2020

      Article is false. We’ve been able to do everything like normal just was a little slower. Best not to believe this stuff unless it’s a direct report.

      Reply
      1. Disgusting Dude13 October, 2020

        Try an internet search.
        There is a whole trail of reddit posts and tbis bit from industry mouthpiece PUBLISHER’S LUNCH:

        “Barnes & Noble suffered a serious, unspecified IT systems problem that appears to have begun on Saturday and was at least modestly remediated by Tuesday afternoon. The most obvious signs of the problem to the outside world were significant issues accessing Nook titles and other data (libraries, wishlists, etc.) and problems logging into and ordering…”
        https://lunch.publishersmarketplace.com/2020/10/barnes-noble-says-most-systems-are-back-online-after-major-multi-day-outage-but-nook-is-still-being-restored/

        An early report on reddit said:

        ” Various Barnes and Noble Store managers have contacted me and stated that there is a virus in their networks. It intitially came down from the corporate and filtered down to the stores and also affected the Nook. Cash registers, in physical bookstores are attached to the same network, so no orders can be placed or processed. Barnes and Noble stated that the problem would be sorted on Sunday, but that is looking unlikely”

        Reply
      2. PR13 October, 2020

        Except I can’t download books, buy new books, search the store OR even have information pulled to the site homepage in Nook apps.

        So, tell me again how the article is false?

        Reply
      3. ps14 October, 2020

        Hi, It’s not false. I spoke to someone in both chat room and on phone at B&N. They have a very simple script and will not admit to how great the problem might be, but it is real. I can access existing library on my Nook but not on computer, and my recent purchase is not available. They managed to charge me though! Many others report loss of Nook library too.

        Reply
        1. Chuck Dee14 October, 2020

          I’d think ‘lost’ is a bit early to tell. There’s connectivity problems, so of course it will not show up locally if you’ve not already synced.

          Reply
      4. Lance Nelson14 October, 2020

        Article is not false. All of my books stored in my device, on a removable SD card, are gone. Nook does not work. At all. And it is Wednesday. No access, no nothing.

        Reply
        1. Chuck Dee14 October, 2020

          There might be another problem with your device in that case. On mine, I can’t download anything or access the store, but the content that’s been downloaded is still there.

          Reply
      5. Caitlyn DeAmbra14 October, 2020

        I can tell you it is not false. Their Website specifically mentioned a service disruption to Nook customers. I haven’t been able to access my account in almost a week now.

        Reply
  6. EH13 October, 2020

    This article title is very misleading. I was at B&N on Saturday, and while I was told the registers were a little slower, the booksellers were still completeing whole transactions, including mine. They were not without their most critical systems, so things were still working in some capacity. It does not help to alarm people like this without more concrete information.

    Reply
  7. Steve13 October, 2020

    One more note: Nate’s prediction was spot on. About an hour ago, I received a fraud alert for the credit card linked to my NOOK and B&N accounts. I can’t say for sure that it was because of this, of course, but I’ve never had a problem arise with this card until today, so the timing makes me think there is certainly a connection. So please keep an eye on any cards linked to your NOOK or BN.com accounts. I now believe this was absolutely a hack and not the “system failure” B&N said it was.

    Reply
    1. Kay14 October, 2020

      I received email today and said there had been cyber security attack. But they don’t want any infor from me. But I think the wording in the email was fishy, the wording was weird. I dont know what to do. I may call tomorrow. Did anyone else get this email?

      Reply
      1. Nate Hoffelder14 October, 2020

        Several people did, yes.

        Reply
  8. Sharon Dubovecky13 October, 2020

    Can you possibly give an estimate when Nook will be up?

    Reply
    1. ps14 October, 2020

      No one at B&N can say. I’ve gotten form letters in reply to email and a simple scripted answer when I reached customer service on phone.

      Reply
    2. A. Gebhardt14 October, 2020

      I would like to know how much longer is this going to take. I haven’t been able to get to get any new books and I like reading a lot. This has been a long time already

      Reply
  9. Cheryl Ostrander13 October, 2020

    I have been able to read my books on my nook just fine.

    Reply
  10. Probably Shouldn't Say This13 October, 2020

    Barnes and Noble employee here:

    While functions were limited, our systems were not totally down. The registers were slow, but never stopped working. Our internal database was a pain to use, but if we had an exact title or ISBN, we could find out if/where a book was in our store. BN.com was spotty in terms of whether it would be up or down, but I had customers coming up to me that had been able to complete purchases online.

    As for Nook, it was merely a connectivity problem. Your books were never gone. Nook just could not connect to the cloud to retrieve data.

    As for rumors about hackers, it was almost definitely a hack. All of our networks failing at the same time? Maybe we’re behind a bit technologically, but not THAT MUCH so. There was some fishy business going on. The favorite conspiracy theories amongst me and my coworkers is that Amazon was trying to cripple some competition before Prime Day.

    Most of the customers who came into the store were very understanding and patient as we worked around the system issues. We were able to apologize to them in person, and make it feel less like a courtesy.

    Before you abandon B&N over a freak system failure for some company like Amazon, consider: Barnes and Noble is a very human company. You can call us and a real person will answer. You can walk into a store and real people will help you. Don’t let physical bookstores die just because of a one-off incident. Barnes and Noble has its issues as a company, but there’s a reason it’s been voted America’s Most Trusted Retailer for two years in a row.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder13 October, 2020

      Yeah, I screwed this one up. I took the reports a little too seriously, and got caught up in the excitement.

      I am going to have to fix it.

      Reply
      1. Disgusting Dude13 October, 2020

        Publishers Lunch backs you.

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder13 October, 2020

          Actually, they probably got the story from me.

          Reply
          1. Disgusting Dude14 October, 2020

            Look at the date.
            You’re late to the party.
            Even special K had it earlier.

            Reply
      2. Jane13 October, 2020

        I have NOT been able to get to my Nook books since Saturday. Called customer service multiple times and they told me no eta on fix. Also the rumor about the discount was false. At this time B&N is not offering any credit or compensation for being down. It is not true the system is up and working, I’m still unable to access my account. I got the feeling from customer service Nook was no a priority and oh well you can’t get your books.

        Reply
      3. Txsassenach14 October, 2020

        Article is NOT FALSE. I haven’t been able to access my NOOK library for 4 days. Still can’t.

        Reply
    2. Chuck Dee13 October, 2020

      Thanks for taking the time (and risk) to post this.

      Reply
    3. tired14 October, 2020

      “Before you abandon B&N over a freak system failure for some company like Amazon”

      While I agree that BN being attacked is not a good reason to abandon them, BN’s response to the situation IS DEFINITELY AN EXCELLENT REASON TO ABANDON THEM FOREVER.

      You see customers should have been informed. They were not. And after irate nook users flooded customer service lines, facebook and twitter, BN then made up a lie about doing maintenance. Now it is looking like it was an attack, customers data might have been exposed and people are starting to see false charges on their credit cards. Customers need to know about this immediately. BN is doing real damage with their anti-consumer stance of not being open about what is going on.

      And please don’t even start on comparing to Amazon. BN is just a failed Amazon. They are not the face of physical books. They tried to shut down the real bookstores (indie bookstores) in their bid for monopolizing the market. Never forget that. They are not saints, they’re just another evil company that puts profit above everything else.

      And if they just allowed their customers to download their ebooks instead of making a walled garden that makes Amazon look tame in comparison, this wouldn’t have immediately been so devastating for Nook users. It was all to stop people from leaving.

      Nook users should leave, and right now. There are ways of getting their libraries liberated but even if they can’t, they should still switch to Kobo or Kindle that puts customers first. Heck if you really wanted to stick it to the big companies then buy PocketBook or Onyx.

      Reply
      1. ps14 October, 2020

        Totally agree. Many of us would forgive a “glitch,” even of this magnitude, but they have our email addresses and it would be possible to send us a notice. Note that I have rec’d other emails from the company during this period, including form letters about a promised refund. So, we know that some of the systems are up and running. I would love to know how to liberate my library! I do see it on my Nook now, but worry it will disappear. I did easily download Kindle app and have switched over; purchased two books in the last two days. I work in PR for a health care company; we could never get away with radio silence like this. We would be on it immediately, even if all we had was a brief notice to deliver. Surprised the press hasn’t gotten hold of this, but I just tipped off a local tech reporter.

        Reply
  11. […] Link to the rest at The Digital Reader […]

    Reply
    1. LParker14 October, 2020

      I cannot access Bookstore on my Nook to make a book purchase for my book club. Very sad. I hope B&N can get this worked out and any data breach resolved quickly.

      Reply
  12. Disgusting Dude13 October, 2020

    Amusingly, they had a four day virus attack and none of the major tech sites seem to have noticed.
    Or maybe they didn’t think it mattered enough to cover?

    Reply
  13. Dedicated reader13 October, 2020

    It is 7:30 pm EDT and I still have no use of my Nook. So much for my spending my birthday with new releases!

    Reply
  14. Mark Haag13 October, 2020

    Nook is still not working at 7:46 p.m. EDT

    Reply
  15. Shirley smith lecroy13 October, 2020

    I have read through some of the newest posts and still do not know my tablet should be operational. I have a Samsung Galaxy S2…I have been able to access those items that reside on my tablet all along but still cannot go through Bookstore…sorry something is wrong kind of message. I also seem to have an issue on the site …which does indicate my name..when I try to look at my orders.
    Should I still be having connection issues?

    Reply
  16. Kari Justad13 October, 2020

    Does “mostly back online” include the west coast? I’m still unable to access my nook content. After 5 days of no communicayion, seriously considering switching ebook providers

    Reply
    1. ps14 October, 2020

      I easily uploaded Kindle app to my Nook and bought 2 books.

      Reply
    2. Steve14 October, 2020

      They are not “mostly back up” by even the most generous definition of that phrase. Five days after the crash and NOOK is still completely down. And earlier this morning their website was going up and down repeatedly.

      Reply
  17. Lrenee13 October, 2020

    Well its now 9:55 pm and my nook features are still not operational. Looks like some have received an email. I haven’t received anything. I already have the kindle app on my nook so I’ve been using that. Looks like as long as you don’t log off you won’t lose your library but I’ve read once its back up it will sync your library.

    Reply
  18. Erin13 October, 2020

    I hope this problem gets resolved, because I have a Nook and download free ebooks a lot.

    Reply
  19. Mary13 October, 2020

    We’ll it’s 10:27 pm, here and I still do not have access to any Barnes & Noble online services or books on my Book.

    Reply
    1. Jane13 October, 2020

      Me either and still no ETA from customer service.

      Reply
      1. Shelly Buckley-Burch14 October, 2020

        9:12pm pacific….still unable to access anything on my nook

        Reply
  20. P14 October, 2020

    Fuck B&N

    Reply
  21. Krys14 October, 2020

    Its Wednesday now, 1pm my time (Germany), and still can’t access my books from the nook app on my phone. Won’t buy another e-book from them if they’re treating this as such a low priority. Will go to Google Play Books or just buy the physical copy elsewhere.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Warner14 October, 2020

      You worked for them for 15 years and you can’t even spell the company name?

      Reply
  22. Sue14 October, 2020

    If this article was not in my news feed I never would have known anything was wrong. I have been reading a book off and on over the weekend and up until about midnight last night. I will let my credit card company know but I always have 2 books downloaded and ready to read.

    Reply
  23. Sara14 October, 2020

    Thank you for publishing this post it has been very helpful to my understanding of what has been going on.
    In my opinion one of the largest issues has been the lack of information shared with customers.

    Reply
  24. Disgusting Dude14 October, 2020

    Hey, Nate:
    Remember these?

    https://the-digital-reader.com/2016/04/07/bn-outsources-nook-functions-to-indian-tech-company/

    https://the-digital-reader.com/2017/08/31/barnes-noble-shutting-nook-support-forums-yes-nook-still-exists/

    And especially this:

    https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/06/21/barnes-nobles-nook-division-generated-111-million-last-year-and-employs-57-people/

    “B&N also told the SEC that as of 28 April, the Nook division employed 57 people, including part-time workers. It’s not clear how many of those provide tech support, but we do know that many parts of the Nook division have been outsourced or shut down. eReader hardware development, for example, used to be handled in-house but has since been handed off to Netronix, a Taiwan-based OEM.

    B&N had reduced staff and outsourced functions in a bid to reduce cost and turn the Nook division profitable; however, Nook continued to show an operating loss last fiscal year, costing B&N $36.3 million.”

    Since then 2019 sales went gone down to less than half.
    Explains a lot, no?

    When tbey say systems are mostly up they’re necessarily lying, just reporting tat tge systems tbat matter to *them*, the store cash registers, are up.
    Nook?
    They’ll get around to it eventually.

    It’s just priorities.

    Act accordingly folks.

    Reply
  25. […] the best of PG’s current knowledge, only two websites, GoodEreader (October 10) and The Digital Reader (October 13), reported on the […]

    Reply
  26. Michelle14 October, 2020

    I have one device with downloaded books from several weeks back, but I cannot access recently purchased books because I uninstalled and reinstalled, thinking it was my application, only to learn it was a network/virus problem. I feel bad for B&N because I do think it was a hack. Shame on the hackers. I am and will continue to be a loyal customer. I hope they survive. Yes, the communication could have been better, but they are human.

    Reply
    1. Disgusting Dude14 October, 2020

      Most hacks steal data quietly without making a ruckus like this.
      Some aren’t detected for months or years.
      Either these were vandals doing it on purpose or the system was unusually fragile to start with.

      Reply
  27. Amanda14 October, 2020

    I just got this email from an address [email protected].

    “Dear Barnes & Noble Customer,

    It is with the greatest regret we inform you that we were made aware on October 10, 2020 that Barnes & Noble had been the victim of a cybersecurity attack, which resulted in unauthorized and unlawful access to certain Barnes & Noble corporate systems.

    We write now out of the greatest caution to let you know how this may have exposed some of the information we hold of your personal details.

    Firstly, to reassure you, there has been no compromise of payment card or other such financial data. These are encrypted and tokenized and not accessible. The systems impacted, however, did contain your email address and, if supplied by you, your billing and shipping address and telephone number. We currently have no evidence of the exposure of any of this data, but we cannot at this stage rule out the possibility. We give below answers to some frequently asked questions.

    We take the security of our IT systems extremely seriously and regret sincerely that this incident has occurred. We know also that it is concerning and inconvenient to receive notices such as this. We greatly appreciate your understanding and thank you for being a Barnes & Noble customer.

    Barnes & Noble”

    Reply
  28. […] it turns out that my suspicions about B&N’s server issues over the weekend were in fact correct.  The retailer was hacked, and has confirmed that customer information, […]

    Reply
  29. Emily Mann15 October, 2020

    Wow. As I was reading this I got an email confirming it was a cyber attack. Though the email did state that no financial information was compromised.

    Reply
  30. Michelle15 October, 2020

    I thought it was my nook since it is very old, So I downloaded nook app onto my galaxy tablet and tried to purchas book from a sample I was reading, wanted password, password not recognized, initiated pw change, p.w, still not recognized, tried on nook now neither old password nor new password work on tablet or nook!!!

    Reply
  31. Loni Harper15 October, 2020

    I’m not really sure when everything came back up but this morning everything was operational on my end. You may have to log off and log back in but everything is working.

    Reply
  32. michele16 October, 2020

    I still cannot access Nook store but can get to my old books or at least some. Received email today exactly like one comenter posted earlier. Wish they would let us know when it will be back up again!

    Reply
  33. Mary16 October, 2020

    I have received no email from B&N during this time. Yesterday when I tried to log in, I was asked to change my password and then I could access my library, but by the evening it stopped working again.

    Reply
  34. Tffany17 October, 2020

    I was able to access my library for about 2 hours and then it went down again. They haven’t updated their nook support saying they are down again. Emailing them has got me nowhere.

    Reply

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