(UPDATE: Added text of Patty Marks’ e-mail to the ec_biz loop on 2/16/2015 emphasizing their redundant backups. Also added another screenshot from a different reader who was also told to include a receipt.)
This is the reply a customer received today after e-mailing Ellora’s Cave about getting their ebooks. Keep in mind this is a follow-up to THIS POST where someone on Twitter claiming to be an employee of EC claimed no, you did not need receipts.
Also, on Twitter, another user claims today they were told to produce receipts.
The big jaw-dropper, however, is they admit there are THREE MISSING YEARS of data. I call bullshit on not backing up data. It should be standard practice to back those up, and I cannot imagine a company worth as much as Ellora’s Cave has always claimed they’re worth, whose BUSINESS is digital data, didn’t invest in a couple of tape drives or other relatively inexpensive storage solutions.
Comments are open, peeps. Have at it.
And there’s this…
“We discovered after the switch that the previous site host didn’t retain any of the records or accounts for our customers.”
*blink…blink* That’s reading, to me, that not only is it 3 years of data missing, but ALL of it.
If that data is missing, how is EC supposed to calculate royalties correctly?
Um, isn’t it Ellora’s Cave’s RESPONSIBILITY to make sure there are BACKUPS of this data BEFORE engaging in a site migration??
Hmm. This is VERY…weird, considering that on 2/16/2015, Patty Marks sent out an e-mail to the ec_biz group countering previous claims by others that EC was only run on one sick and dying laptop, and she made it ABUNDANTLY clear that they had…BACKUPS…
Sent: Monday, February 16, 2015 2:36 PM
Subject: [ec_biz] Gossip regarding our systems
I don’t like to address gossip, because it lends to the possibility that someone may find it credible, but I think this is important.Apparently there is someone out there saying that we don’t back up your information and that we run our systems on single computers without backup.This so ludicrous that it shouldn’t need addressed, but just in case…
All of our data, including but not limited to Financial, Manuscripts, Graphics, Spreadsheets, programs and any resources used in the daily business of the company past or present is currently stored in a multi-server network.Each server is raided in the event of a hard drive failure and run we run redundant power supplies as an extra precaution.All data stored on the network is then backed up to another location using automatic backup software.The entire room is on its own electrical panel with commercial grade surge protection and battery backup.Our server network and all computers that access it are protected by the latest in antivirus and firewall technology.We have and still do employ a full-time IT department since 2005 – not to mention three outside consulting and hosting companies, one for the website, one for our computers and servers and one for our accounting programs.
Before that, we were a company consisting of six people or less and had no server network at that time.IT services were subcontracted on an as needed basis.Computers were backed up individually to external storage devices and no one computer contained all of the company information – at least not since I have been with Ellora’s Cave.As the company has progressed so has our hardware and software that we use every day to run things.
As for the confusion in the data loss with the Amazon cloud crash, there was no royalty data lost.The information erased were certain formulas that were built into the back end of the old EC site.We had the consultants who designed the original formulas fix the broken code – using the backups – and install it on our servers as a standalone program.All financial spreadsheets, imported or exported, royalty programs hosted offsite or onsite, have always been stored on our server network as well.Again we run like seven server environments for redundancy.
Our email system and our website all run on multiple cloud based servers for backup redundancy.Our own network has its own backup redundancy as described above.All user passwords and master passwords have to meet strict password requirements and are changed on a regular basis.All internal users require a domain credentials to access the files they have been give permissions to view and remote users need their domain credentials as well as firewall credentials to gain access to the internal network.No one person has access to the entire system except the IT department.All other permissions are locked down by department and department level basis.
AND – on top of it all – we carry business insurance in case of hardware or software failure and data loss.
Can I say with certainty that our systems are absolutely impenetrable?Well, considering people have hacked banks, giant retailers, SONY and managed to crash the Amazon cloud, I would guess not.But to imply that all of our information is on one “dying laptop” is laughable and simply untrue.
Sooo….which is it, Ellora’s Cave? Either you were BACKING STUFF UP, as per PATTY MARKS’ statements, or…you weren’t.
It is UNCONSCIONABLE that a company that deals in DATA would NOT make a FULL AND COMPLETE backup BEFORE migrating a site to a new hosting platform.
And what happened to the OLD backups that SHOULD be there, if all the redundant backups had been taking place as she stated in her message.
Draw your own conclusions. Comments are open.
12 thoughts on “Ellora’s Cave: Correction, maybe you CAN’T get your books back… #notchilled”
Why would anyone want to do business with a company that after losing three years worth of customer data admits they managed to lose of their customer data for a second time? Particularly when the CEO went into great detail on 2/16/15 as to all their redundant backup procedures 4.5 months before the latest site conversion. Shouldn’t they be able to restore their database to a point closely before the site conversion?
It’s really not great PR or CS to make your customers have to remember everything they bought in the last 6 years.
@Julaine – Well, that begs the question of how much did EC’s poor customer service and losing years of customers’ data impact their reputation, both the first site migration and this time around. And I edited the original post to add the 2/16/2015 email for people to read. 🙂
Hard to fathom why they’d spend $$$ on that printing press – which was obsolete five minutes after they bought it – yet left their business data twisting in the wind.
This takes being “penny-wise and pound-foolish” to a whole new level.
@Cat – Well, and the RV, and other stuff. They’re a company dealing in DATA. You’d think based on Patty Marks’ comments of 2/16/2015 that they would have at least ONE full backup copy from that timeframe, considering how she raved about their backups.
This is why, when you buy an eBook, you download it, strip any DRM off (tools are freely available) and back it up on at least three devices that nobody else controls. At least three of my suppliers have quit supplying, or effectively have done so, either by going out of business or removing the availability of downloads, and I still have every single book I bought available for rereading.
Download and backup, and do no business with those who don’t allow downloads to YOUR hardware, not their proprietary (beep).
@Feoffrey – Yes, customers should backup data, but what has happened in this case is inexcusable.
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@Tymber I quite agree. The carelessness with customer data was criminal. However, “trust but backup” is still and always the great proverb of the digital realm.
Geoffrey, You’re absolutely right about backing things up. In my case, I had an enormous tree come down on my house during a massive electrical storm. The same lightning strike that caused the 80 year old oak to split in two and land on by roof managed to fry the hard drive on my laptop AND the external backup drive hooked up to it. Besides the physical damage it zapped everything. I thought I had a secure procedure in place but sometimes Murphy and Mother Nature can conspire to beat the best of plans.
Since then I make a point of making sure I have at least one physical backup and another cloud backup and try to purchase from sites where I feel confident they have backups of their own.
In this case, it appears that EC failed to backup their data, not once but twice before updating their website. I am having a hard time fathoming how that happened given Ms. Marks assurances but it has created an enormous headache for many people. The error is compounded by the fact that even given their decision to waive their initial requirement for receipts by the fact that a large percentage of their backlist can’t be resent due to the fact that many of those titles have reverted back to their authors.
@Julaine – Yeah, what gets me is that after all of her posturing earlier this year (and giggle-worthy misuse of “raided”) where she assured people data was safe, then this admission. Which also leads me to the question, if they mishandle non-critical data like this, how are they handling secure data? How can/are they guaranteeing transactions through their site are secure?
I find it hard to believe that SOMEWHERE there isn’t at least ONE archived backup copy of those three years’ worth of data considering how many redundancies she claims they have in place. If there’s not, then why did she even bother making the statement back in February?
I emailed them about this right after the website change and was told I had to have receipts to get my books back. This is the second time this has happened. It happened the first time they changed their website before the change over to the red monstrosity it has been the past few years. Honestly I have the books I purchased downloaded and backed up but I still want access to them just in case.
I don’t buy much from them any more and even less since the lawsuit started. I have only bought Laurann Dohner’s books and even then I buy them through Amazon.
Another thing that I noticed. While a very nice EC Customer Service Rep is now working on sending me the files that I can remember that I lost, they are sending me those files as attachments that I then have to load into my reading app. They aren’t sending them to (or recreating) my customer library. That means if the site goes down again or there is another loss of data they might have to potentially do this all over again.
Also, I originally requested prc format so that I could load them into my Kindle app where my other EC titles (and collections) reside. Unfortunately many of the older EC titles error out and will not load in that format. That means that those titles had to be resent in ePub format. That means I am going to have to do a format conversion myself if I want to have all of my books in the same app so I can place them into collections. This might seem like a very minor quibble but for a reader like me that had 1000’s of digital books, if I don’t group my titles by author, or publisher, or category it can be very difficult to keep them organized or find a particular book in the vast sea of my library. It’s also very time consuming, and everyone today has way more things to do than time to do them.
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