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Posted on Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 12:32 a.m.

Barnes & Noble CEO: 'We're very sorry your Borders store closed'

By Nathan Bomey

Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch told more than 40 million customers in an email tonight that Borders customers would have about two weeks to ask for their personal information to be excised from a list the New York-based bookstore chain bought from Borders.

First, though, he took the opportunity to say a word about the demise of Barnes & Noble's 40-year-old Ann Arbor-based competitor.


Barnes & Noble bought Borders' customer loyalty list — a program previously called Borders Rewards — but agreed to send an email offering customers the chance to opt out of the data transfer.

File photo |

"Let me say Barnes & Noble uniquely appreciates the importance bookstores play within local communities, and we're very sorry your Borders store closed," Lynch wrote.

The mass distribution of the email was part of a deal in which Barnes & Noble promised a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Manhattan that it would give Borders customers the opportunity to opt out of the transfer.

Barnes & Noble bought Borders' customer loyalty list, which includes millions of names, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and some purchase information.

B&N paid $13.9 million to acquire Borders' brand name and website, which the company plans to close Oct. 14. That decision raised questions about the future of the Borders brand. Barnes & Noble representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

"Our intent in buying the Borders customer list is simply to try and earn your business," Lynch wrote. "The majority of our stores are within close proximity to former Borders store locations, and for those that aren't, we offer our award- winning Nook digital reading devices that provide a bookstore in your pocket. We are readers like you, and hope that through our stores, Nook devices, and our online bookstore we can win your trust and provide you with a place to read and shop."

The email says customers who want to opt out of the data transfer must visit before Oct. 15. It also says customers who allow their data to be transferred can "be assured your information will be covered under the Barnes & Noble privacy policy."

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 10:49 p.m.

Don't worry your pretty little heads about Amazon getting away with not paying taxes-that is all changing, with the support of Amazon themselves. Border's sold our names, Border's ran themselves into the ground. Border's was too worried about expansion, not product. Barnes and Noble had nothing to do with all of this.

Steve Coatney

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

I think it's rather ironic that so many enraged Borders customers are promising to take their business to Amazon, rather than to their locak B&N or other brick and mortar bookstore. Amazon is the #1 reason local brick and mortar shops are going belly up. True, Borders management also made poor decions along the way. But the #1 problem was Amazon. Just sayin' ....


Sun, Oct 2, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

If BN wasn't so expensive and had such flighty employees I would go to a brick and mortar store. But sadly I either now go to a used book store or on line to Amazon. Pays to shop around.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

This is a tempest in a teacup if ever I saw one. Who cares if one soulless book store chain has the information that another soulless bookstore chain had. What a remarkably pointless and insignificant thing to make any sort of fuss over.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

Look, B&N is no great shakes, it's true. But they do pay local taxes (unlike and they are an important merchant in many local commerical areas. Everyone gets to vote with their wallet, but I'd still rather have a local bookstore, local jobs, and local tax money than get all outraged and switch to Amazon.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

Wow! How condescending and insincere. The fact that the only reason he (meaning his staff) sent out this note was because they were ordered to by the court (as evidenced by the fact that they're only allowing 14 days to opt out) says a lot about the integrity of B & N. And, I cannot help but question the legality of them being allowed to arbitrarily change a legally binding contract- i.e. the privacy agreement- from Borders' to B&N with express permission from rewards members. Makes me less inclined to shop at B & N (I'm opting out now, before they start selling my personal info- who knows how loose their privacy agreement is), and to sign up for other rewards programs if bankruptcy courts are this apt to bow to corporate interests and thumb their nose at laws put into place by our elected officials to protect our privacy.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

And I might add- the ONLY reason why the bankruptcy court judge ordered the "opt-out" period is because privacy advocates pitched a fit. The entire bankruptcy proceeding was botched from the start by this judge; had he been legitimately acting in the interests of the creditors (not to mention thousands of employees) he would have allowed for the sale of individual stores or blocks of stores instead of rushing the sale through and allowing such an abrupt liquidation.

Brian Schaefer

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

I do not understand the controversy here. The bankruptcy court violated the Borders privacy policy by selling the customer list to Borders' former competition. The buyer, B&N, bought a business asset and intends to use that asset as it sees fit and in compliance with the purchase agreement between the buyer in the bankruptcy court.


Sun, Oct 2, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

Sounds like a corporate lawsuit to me.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

This reminds me of the recent Netflix CEO letter - what a debacle that was. So, in essence the B&N CEO is saying they got our information and one can opt out. I don't get it. Why would I want them to have my Borders information? What's in it for me? I was a Borders Rewards Plus member do I even get that equivalent at B&N? Why would I not opt out? I get nothing from B&N on this deal except most likely annoying spam emails

Michael K.

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

I was with y'all and was just about to opt out at the link ... Then I saw that folks who paid for Border Rewards Premium membership will automatically get the Barnes and Noble rewards card (which you usually have tonpay for.) That at least seems like a positive. I loved Borders and will miss them. I don't dislike B&N, so ... Guess I'll give them a shot. Or just support the independents. I know that at least 1/3 of the technical or non-popular-fiction books that I buy at Amazon are a waste of my money. So I at best break even with Amazon discounts after the reject books that aren't worth the money. I will pay to have a real, local book store (thanks Nicola's!)

Urban Sombrero

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

This really bugs me. How about an "opt in" policy instead of "opt out"? Let the customer go to a Barnes & Noble and decide there and then if they want to sign up for whatever card/plan/mailing list they offer, instead of B & N just assuming they'll want it based on acquiring Border's list. Border's is dead, we all know it. And, with it, so should be any use of our info we've given them. I'm off to visit that link and opt out. Grumblegrumblegrumble.

Urban Sombrero

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

I know your're right, johnnya2, but I still don't like it. I gave my info to Borders. Period. They shouldn't be able to sell it, no matter what. I didn't authorize Borders to do that (OK, I'm sure it was in the fine print of whatever they gave me when I got that infernal rewards card, but still....). Anyway, it's just annoying and wrong. At least in my opinion. Which is probably wrong in and of itself. That seems to be the way things roll for me, lol.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

You did opt in. When you signed up with Borders you opted in. Imagine Borders had not closed. The company could have been sold to a private equity firm. That firm would still own the data base. Borders was never owned by the same people all the time. As stock traded there could bee a day I owned the company, and others where I didn't. B&N bought the Borders brand and list. They now own it. If you do not want to be on the list you are free to unsubscribe. The article is wrong on a few things. There can not legally be a time limit on the ability to opt out of an email. In fact, at the bottom of any email received from a legitimate emailing company, there MUST be an unsubscribe link.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

Before you buy anything check with AMAZON. It's cheaper, free shipping & NO TAX.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

As John Reed notes, you are supposed to declare and pay Use Tax on those purchases whether or not you agree with how our State spends its money. Those who don't like it are welcome to run for public office or vote for politicians who share their point of view. In the meantime, the law is the law.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

Maybe if our state government were a little more responsible with our money, it wouldn't care about private transactions between its citizens and companies operating elsewhere.

John Reed

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

@nixon41: Just because a web site might not collect sales tax on a transaction does not mean you aren't obligated under the law to pay it. Michigan needs the revenue (I'm assuming you're local) - please don't starve our state government.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

I havent' received my email yet (which by the way, irritates me that Border's sold it off), can I opt out early? Also, I will never shop at B and N, I have only shopped there twice, once for a textbook that I absolutely needed and 1 other time around christmas a few years back. I'll order off Amazon before ever becoming a B and N regular customer.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

I never said B and N killed it. I said I would never shop there. I know they were. I saw how the customer service focus declined in the last few years. There are many things that Borders could have approved on and they chose not to. I just choose not to shop at B and N.

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

Borders was the architect of its own demise. It wasn't Barnes and Noble that killed it.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 7:12 a.m.

Ya u r .Give it a rest.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 5:53 a.m.

I avoid companies that sell customer information, whenever possible (I realize banks have enough friends in Washington to make it completely impossible to have any privacy with respect to financial transactions). So, thanks Barnes and Noble, for making it crystal clear you have no respect for my privacy. I will avoid your stores.


Sun, Oct 2, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

The problem here is that if you opt out and they sell your name now you have been spammed. Then when you try to opt out there? You may get hacked and/or a virus because most companies do not monitor their sites. I remember getting a virus from Ellis Islands website. I had to email them and let them know of this. Took a while to get rid of it too.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

That's called "opt-out." Problem being few businesses actually respect a request. Your name is still on the list, just exempted from each individual contact. It still gets sold to anyone who wants names. Responsible businesses use "opt-in," where you have to submit your name to a contact list.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

I just avoid them period. Their customer service stinks too. Amazon all the way. Unless you go to that used bookstore down the street on Liberty.


Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 5 p.m.

Article notes that if you opt out they will remove you from the list and despose of your personal data... Isn't that respecting your privacy? I know it is sad that Border's closed, but B&N is basically the same thing. Let's not act like B&N having our data is so much worse than Border's having it.

Ryan Munson

Sat, Oct 1, 2011 : 5:50 a.m.

"Let me say Barnes & Noble uniquely appreciates the importance bookstores play within local communities, and we're very sorry your Borders store closed," Lynch wrote. "All your base are belong to us".