Warning: *privacy not included with this product
Review date: Nov. 9, 2022
OK folks, we heard you. A whole bunch of you have written us asking for us to include a review of Barnes & Noble's Nook eReader. So here we go.
First, for those of you who don't know, Nook is bookstore Barnes & Noble's own eReader, in competition with Amazon's Kindle. There are four versions of the Nook, ranging from the 6 inch GlowLight 4e to the 7.8 inch, waterproof GlowLight Plus, to the giant 10 inch tablet. There is also the Nook eReader app that lets you read Nook books on your Android or iOS devices. All of the Nook eReaders download and buy eBooks from Barnes & Noble, read eBooks free at Barnes & Noble stores, and access public library eBooks. OK, so you're skipping Amazon in favor of Barnes & Noble for your book buying. Does that mean your privacy is better off? Well, maybe. Amazon does collect a whole bunch of data about your reading preferences on the Kindle, but so does Barnes & Noble. So, probably just get used to your book buying habits being known to the world, either way you go.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Unlike Amazon, maker of the Kindle eReader, pretty much all Barnes & Nobles sells is books (OK, and a few games, some music and movies, but mostly books). Like Amazon, though, Barnes & Noble uses their eReaders and eReader apps to collect a good deal of information on you to target you with ads to sell you more stuff. And, they partner with third party ad networks to customize and target you with even more ads from companies other than Barnes & Noble. Not great for people who just want to enjoy a good book.
Barnes & Noble says they can track your location in a couple of ways. One, through your device. They say, “Barnes & Noble and third party application providers may automatically collect real-time geographic location information or other location-based information about you and your Device or other mobile device on which the App is installed.” So, Barnes & Noble and other third party providers they work with can know where you are in real-time. Yuck. They also say they can track your location when you log onto the free wi-fi they offer in their stores to Nook users, where they also say Nook users can read ebooks for free. When you log onto the wi-fi in a Barnes and Noble store, they say they can track your location, device identifiers, date, time, information about what you interact with, and “how you experience” their stores. They use this information to, among other things, “deliver push notifications and other content to your Device when you are near, enter, and move through our stores.” Yeah, not a lot of privacy when you take your Nook eReader or app to the store.
So, Barnes & Noble tracks your reading behaviors, your location, as well as information about you and the devices you use and then shares that data with third parties for targeted, interest-based advertising. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, it would really suck to be a young queer kid, hoping to learn more about the LGBTQ+ world by taking that Nook you got for Christmas down to the Barnes & Noble to use the free wi-fi to read the free ebooks where you think you have some privacy from your potentially unaccepting parents. But then Barnes & Noble and the third party ad networks they share data with know that you -- a young, curious, scared queer kid -- are reading books from the LGBTQ+ section and starts showing ads on not just the Nook, but other devices your parents have access to. Your parents see those ads, start questioning you about your sexual orientation, and now you are outed to potentially unaccepting parents. Yes, this is a worst-case scenario, so hopefully it never happens. Still, it’s a scenario that many LGBTQ+ people worry about. We have to say the Nook comes with *Privacy Not Included.
Tips to protect yourself
- Don't use a third party login like Google or Facebook login to sign into the service.
- Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
- Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
- Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
- Keep your app regularly updated
- Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
- Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
- When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data if possible.
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, e-mail address, billing address, phone number, date of birth, location
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
In 2020, Barnes and Noble experienced a cyberattack. Some data might have been stolen.
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Separate Q&A policy is offered
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Barnes and Noble Experienced a Cyber AttackGood E-Reader
Standard Security Report for Barnes and Noble NookCommon Sense
Confirmed: Barnes & Noble hacked, systems taken offline for days, miscreants may have swiped personal infoThe Register
Privacy Evaluation for NOOKCommon Sense
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