A few Saturday morning thoughts

This is going to be a quick post this morning for a couple of reasons. The first is that the dog that apparently lives in my computer ate a final edit I’d done of someone else’s work and now I’m having to recreate it. It’s one of those situations where I know I backed it up. I’m obsessive about that sort of thing. But I either did it under a name that makes no sense now or I saved over it or something because it just frigging isn’t there. Fortunately, this author is one who needs little editing so it should take only a couple more hours. But that is just the first of about six things I need to do today, not counting cleaning house and calling my son to wish him a Happy Birthday.

Barnes & Noble just went through a downsizing in my area. Fort Worth lost two stores, one of which had been a major destination in downtown. The corporate suits have claimed it was because the landlords, evil people that they are, wanted too much in rent. That might have been part of it but the reality is the suits didn’t think what putting three stores withing approximately a five mile radius would do to each store’s sale. No one in the area really bought the blame game B&N tried to play.

So imagine the response when the local CBS station — now picked up by the other stations in the area — broke the story about what a four year old found when his parents took him to the B&N in Southlake. Picture this: parents who love books want to instill that same love in their young child. So they do what so many of us have done over the years. They took their child to their local bookstore. In this case, it was the Barnes & Noble in Southlake.

Like so many of the larger B&N stores, this one has an area for children. There are tables and on some of those tables are Nooks and Nook tablets the children can use. That is exactly what this youngster did. And that is where the problem arises — mom and dad found their four year old with a Nook that was streaming porn.

Yep, you read that right. A Nook provided by B&N in their children’s area didn’t have parental controls activated on it so the four year was watching porn.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d have been more than a little upset. The parents of this particular child most definitely weren’t pleased. But they did what any responsible parent would do. They approached store management and that is where things get surreal. First of all, the store manager apparently didn’t bother to respond to the parents. That’s when they took to social media and, finally, to the local TV station to let other parents in the area know what was going on.

In a comment issued from B&N executives — note, this isn’t from the local store — an apology was given to the family but it was confirmed that Nooks provided by B&N stores for demo purposes, such as the one in question, operate without parental filters. It doesn’t matter if they are on tables for kids. The statement goes on to say that they “regret” what happened.

But do they plan to change their policy, at least for those Nooks set aside for use on kids-only tables? Nope. Instead they will “take steps to communicate a parental disclaimer that the in-store devices aren’t password protected.” Let’s not take any responsibility for what happens in our own stores seems to be the overwhelming rule here. It would be very easy to slip on parental controls on those tablets left on the kids-only tables. But B&N can’t be bothered to do that.

And then they wonder why they don’t have the reputation they once did.


  1. First of all, the sub-manager of the children’s area ought to have been all over this: talk about a PR nightmare! Secondly, why on earth would you have Nooks in a children’s area without controls on them? Teens go in there, and they’re going to do things they shouldn’t, because they can, for sheer mischief. This is a bad store, bad staffing problem, and then B&N compounded it by not implementing a simple policy. Unless you can’t block a nook, in which case, I’m SO glad I didn’t buy them for my kids!

    1. The two stories I’ve seen on this make it a bit unclear if it was a kid’s only table or in the kid’s section. Either way, it was at a table meant only for kids so there should have been controls on the nook in question. The fact the manager didn’t respond to the parents and that corporate has this “it’s not our problem” attitude only makes me more glad we are seeing indie bookstores returning to the area.

      1. Terrible of me but when I read this, I thought of the people screaming about the “evil” Amazon trying to “censor” porn. At the time people were screaming, I thought of asking if they wanted their local brickstores to carry “hard core porn”. [Sad Smile]

        1. Most local brickstores *do* care hard core porn. Our Borders had an erotica section, and trust me, don’t look too closely at the Manga section. However, they aren’t near the kids section (although the Manga section used to be close to the teen books, argh), and presumably, one doesn’t let ones kids roam the store. I certainly never did, but I would let mine play in the kids section while I looked for their books, when they were little.

          1. The last time I was in the local B&N, the sf/f section ran up against the manga section which ended with an aisle break where there were a couple of tables with toys and puzzles on it. Yep, you guessed it, kids came to look at the toys and puzzles and often got an eyeful of manga covers, some of which were more than a tad explicit.

          2. in the one I go to it is in the back behind the scifi section and faces the very back wall of the store where there is…art books and shit. Something most modern kids could care less about.. Flipside is they put a TEEN scifi section in front of the regular scif section. Which at once both irritates the heck out of me and I totally understand.

          1. Interestingly Amanda, some guy in (I think) AccordingToHoyt was talking about a short story he put up in Amazon. He gave it several tags including a tag for Erotica (because of a small scene). Apparently Amazon decided that the “Erotica” tag overrode anything else. So it only showed up when you searched for Erotica not any of the other tags.

      2. Yes, I’d rather deal with a store where I knew the manager/owner and it wasn’t a warm body atmosphere when it came to hiring help. I don’t bother asking for help in the big boookstores.

        1. which is what you USED to get when there were the SMALLER chains of Waldenbooks and B Daltons. I know I worked at one and shopped in BOTH. Truth be told the people in the Waldenbooks were friendly. Even before I started working at their stores most of the staff if they didn’t know me by name, knew me by site. my parents as well. And when I worked for them..I got to know most of the regulars by sight if not by name. And a great many of us that worked there were bibliophiles. I don’t know about Daltons. All I know is that I felt there, like ya’ll feel[and me too to be honest] feel at B&N. Walden before it’s final demise began to feel that way after they were bought up by Borders. And Borders corporate was STUPID.

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