Barnes & Noble Going Around Asking Everyone To Change All Links From Borders To B&N

from the really? dept

As you probably heard, Borders went out of business recently and Barnes & Noble purchased a bunch of Borders assets around its trademarks. Still, it was a bit surprising when we received an email this week asking us to change any links we have on Techdirt that go to Borders.com to redirect to Barnesandnoble.com:
Barnes & Noble recently purchased most of the Borders trademarks and intellectual property in a recent auction. As a result of this purchase, we started transitioning the Borders.com website to Barnesandnoble.com via redirects.

We noticed that your site is currently linking to http://www.borders.com/online/store/Home , and I’d like to reach out and ask you to kindly update your links to the corresponding URLs on Barnesandnoble.com. We have redirects in place for many Borders.com pages, so you can use that to help you determine the correct landing pages on Barnesandnoble.com.
To be honest, I absolutely could not recall ever linking to Borders, but I did some digging, and found that we did so... three and a half years ago in a post about Borders.com's last ditch attempt to try to be innovative with a different kind of home page. Because of that we linked to the front page of Borders.com. For a variety of reasons, it would be stupid to change that link. In the context of the story, it wouldn't make any sense at all.

But all of this makes me wonder why Barnes & Noble is wasting their time sending emails to people like this. If it wants to redirect people, just set up some redirects. Don't expect everyone to drop everything and go change ancient links.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Ethan, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Is it that hard to comprehend that they write a simple script to identify sites linking to Borders and simply emailed all such sites with a form email? Likely took an intern an afternoon to write and implement.

     

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      bjupton (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 4:12pm

      Re:

      And how hard would it be to throw together some redirect scripts and not look like morons who don't understand how things work?

      Is that so hard to comprehend?

       

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        The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 7:13pm

        Re: Re:

        We have redirects in place for many Borders.com pages...

        Sounds like they're already doing what they're supposed to do and giving those with links to them a head's up. That's called being helpful.

         

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          The Real Zano, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 7:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I generally appreciate it when a benevolent user notifies me of broken links or other content.

          That isn't what's happening here. B&N isn't saying "hey just being nice here -- you have broken links," its saying "hey we are going to break those links you have so change them to point to xyz."

          It is quite presumptuous to think that you can send out emails and have millions** of links get changed as a result. A far more reasonable solution in my opinion, as many others have pointed out, is to redirect people somewhere useful when they land at a broken borders page.

          **number pulled out of my rear

           

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    Mike42 (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 4:06pm

    Tek noligy

    Mike,

    Microsoft has been breaking links on it's sites for the past 11 years, for no good reason and no useful redirects. I can't tell you how many times I've followed a blog link to MSDN, only to be deposited on the main page. There is a search on the main page, and I've used it, but I've never found the page that was referenced. Which means the page was deleted, right? Wrong. I had to Google the specific item to find out where Microsoft had moved it.
    If Microsoft doesn't understand the internet, can we expect B&N to understand it?

    See, Google has spoiled you.

     

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    Josh, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 4:11pm

    For sale

    Could it be possible they want to get something from their investment in Borders IP? I can imagine the Borders url has value in it's generic name. You could either develop a new product with the name or sell it. So Re-directs would be good for awhile but eventually you want to do something else with the URL.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 5:09pm

      Re: For sale

      Actually, you're better off leaving lots of links to borders.com, even if they're off topic. It makes the domain more valuable that way.

       

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      The Real Zano, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:04pm

      Re: For sale

      So much fail packed into this comment...

      Might it be possible that the rest of humanity has better things to do than to go modify all their web content so that B&N has a way to make money off their Borders IP?

      Not to mention that leaving such links in place likely makes borders.com more valuable than it would otherwise be.

       

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        The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 7:16pm

        Re: Re: For sale

        You're saying that you, as a webmaster, would prefer to quietly have a bad link than get an email telling you that you have one? Seriously? I always appreciate when someone points out a bad link to me and usually respond with a thank-you.

         

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          The Real Zano, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 7:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: For sale

          I generally appreciate it when a benevolent user notifies me of broken links or other content.

          That isn't what's happening here. B&N isn't saying "hey just being nice here -- you have broken links," its saying "hey we are going to break those links you have so change them to point to xyz."

          It is quite presumptuous to think that you can send out emails and have millions** of links get changed as a result. A far more reasonable solution in my opinion, as many others have pointed out, is to redirect people somewhere useful when they land at a broken borders page.

          **number pulled out of my rear

           

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            The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: For sale

            Problem there is you're presuming that they're presuming. Were I them, I'd be pretty happy if even a quarter of the admins of active pages that received the email updated their links.

            Then again, were I them, I wouldn't have bothered sending out the email. I would have done it the old fashioned way: screw them, they can update their links when their users complain. I'm a bit of an asshole.

             

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              Jason (profile), Dec 25th, 2011 @ 9:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: For sale

              I know, right? Instead of just letting people sink, they're actually going out of there way and saying "hey, this will eventually not work."

               

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    Scote, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 4:11pm

    I don't see the problem.

    B&N do have redirects. But how many people, knowing that Borders is dead, would click on the link? It makes good business sense to try to capture as much web traffic as they can by getting people to update their links to B&N. You don't have to do it. But that is no reason for them not to ask.

    No panty twisting needed.

     

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    HMTKSteve, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 4:15pm

    SEO

    Umm... SEO?

    If they can get the millions of links to borders to now link directly to B&N they get a ton more SEO juice. Granted they are already at the top of most book search results...

     

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      Killercool (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 5:16pm

      Re: SEO

      It seems to me, it could be more useful to leave them as-is (with redirects), and collect that data for market research. Along the lines of "how much marketing power does Borders still have, x amount of time after they folded, and can we monetize the brand again?"
      Or, a quick redirect page, along the lines of:

      "Sorry, Borders went out of business!

      However, Barnes and Noble is still doing great, so we'll redirect you there in *countdown* seconds!"

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 5:07pm

    Cheap cheap

    Obviously, they don't wanna spend the $9/year on the domain registration... ;)

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:06pm

      Re: Cheap cheap

      "If it wants to redirect people, just set up some redirects. Don't expect everyone to drop everything and go change ancient links."

      Much like the entertainment industry they do not want to do any real work.

       

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    RobM (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 5:34pm

    Clueless

    Some VP, or Exec VP, or even Senior VP of Marketing wants to be Proactive before Year-End and get the word out on the brand and ... has no clue, but doesn't even care.

    USA, LTD. a wholly owned subsidiary of MegaGinormiCorp™©

     

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    IAmNumber813 (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:12pm

    Time is Money

    When one corporation requests services from another corporation, money usually changes hands. Tell Barnes & Noble that you will gladly fulfill their request for services and that you estimate their project will take a minimum of 30 hours at $250 per hour (plus tax), payable in advance.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:50pm

      Re: Time is Money

      The marketing department probably has no intention of agreeing to something like that. Instead of replying to the letter you could communicate with their accounting department and see if they green-light it. I'm not advocating fraud here. Tell them exactly what happened and say you'll need x amount of funds to do it. It might just work. Right hand left hand issues exist in many corporations.

       

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    TechnoMage (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 6:18pm

    TBH, I think this wasn't a bad thing...

    As long as they were polite, and respectful and didn't threaten to sue.

    Consolidating urls, trying to optimize SEO(search engine optimization) to lead to B&N.

    But I'm biased having worked for their company, and them having somewhat reasonable SOP compared to other places.

     

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      The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 7:21pm

      Re: TBH, I think this wasn't a bad thing...

      Absolutely. I'm all about jumping down a company's throat when they've done something shitty. This was the exact opposite though. They did something helpful to webmasters with pages linking to them and they're getting their asses chewed for it. WTF?

       

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    Edwardo Angrito's Chiuawawa, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:15pm

    Slow news day, Maz?

    So instead of updating the link, you write a bitchy article about an email most probably would have tossed into the spam folder?

    What kind of a hack journalist are you? And why do you have a "Too Much Free Time" article category? Maybe you should update that category type to "Things That Make Me Angry" and have a guest poster named Ed Anger post them on your behalf.

     

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      abc gum, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 10:12pm

      Re: Slow news day, Maz?

      I think TD should change the Borders link so it points to Encyclopedia Dramatica.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Dec 24th, 2011 @ 7:07am

      Re: Slow news day, Maz?

      "So instead of updating the link, you write a bitchy article about an email most probably would have tossed into the spam folder?"

      It's worth pointing out the idiocy that often goes on behind the scenes in corporations. B&N could have done 10 minutes work to redirect URLs, and even used the redirect as a marketing opportunity. Instead, they send out bulk emails telling other people to do that work for them. Creating the mailing list alone would have taken more time than performing the redirect.

      This is the kind of thing we need to remember when these same companies are the ones trying to demand "protection" for their business models. They have many more problems than "pirates".

      "What kind of a hack journalist are you?"

      A blogger on a personal opinion blog?

      "And why do you have a "Too Much Free Time" article category?"

      To accurately label people who post on opinion blogs demanding investigative journalism and complaining about the stories being written?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2011 @ 1:37am

    As long as they are asking and not mandating anything I don't see the problem is like SPAM, I don't like it but I don't think it should be illegal although it is very very annoying.

     

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    Noah C. (profile), Dec 24th, 2011 @ 9:34am

    I fail to see the problem with this. They were kind about it, and it was just for convenience and whatever other things go into this... Come on Maz, you can find a few better things to blog about.

     

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    FarmerBob (profile), Dec 24th, 2011 @ 1:41pm

    If B&N actually has rights to the Borders address assets, they can easily and legally redirect them at the registrar level. And not have to "reach out" and have others do their work for them, which to me is a sign of IT incompetence. Or do they "not" have the rights and are trying to do a "runaround"?

    I redirect all the time, in the background, and nobody need ever be "reached out" to.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 25th, 2011 @ 8:09pm

    No, they are not going to break the borders link.. the whole reason they bought the domain was to redirect it to their site. They want the Internet at large to change the links for SEO purposes and maybe to eventually sell boarders.com when there's little links to it that matter. They are NOT trying to be helpful here by warning us about a soon-to-be-broken link. Even if they did break it, why would rewriting history to make that link go to a different site help any? Borders is dead, thus a dead link would be expected, not Barns&Noble... it's not a big deal either way and at least they were friendly but it is kinda silly.

     

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    CrushU, Dec 26th, 2011 @ 10:12am

    They DO redirect!

    Good lord people. They HAVE set up redirects. They even give a special page because of the redirects. This is not about them being lazy. If anything they would've been lazy to NOT notify webmasters of the old link. No, it doesn't make sense to change every Borders link ever, nor do they say you have to. They've just stated 'Hey, we notice you're linking to Borders.com. That domain is about to fizzle, check the link to see if you need to change it.'

    This is an instance of intelligence from a corporation. Why are we deriding them over it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Didn't even read the comments.

    In case someone else hasn't said it already; this is silly. It's got to be more cost-effective for them to just retain the domain name and direct it to their own pages with some kind of 'we purchased borders message, is this (potentially relevant search result) what you were looking for?'

     

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