Here’s a shocker… (The Klausner Post)

Harriet Klausner reviewed Quicksilver and gave it 5 stars. I know, how improbable is that. She never likes any book. Oh wait, that’s John and Scott recommended books. Sorry.

Anyhow, I’ll be picking this up in anticipation of the Austin trip and booksigning! Woo hoo!

193 thoughts on “Here’s a shocker… (The Klausner Post)”

  1. OK. You got me started.

    Lets’ call this installment “Do the Math”.

    I humbly consider myself to be a solid average page turner, which is to say that I can turn the page of a book in a reasonable amount of time. At best, I can turn the page twice per second (4 pages viewable). That of course does not include eye focus time, moving my hand to hold the book before turning the next page, etc. So, for a 360-page book, It takes me 3 minutes just to touch the pages. Actually reading the pages would take a bit longer. Let’s say it takes 5 seconds to read and understand a page (which is, by the way, only available to me through a pact with Satan). Then that adds 30 minutes for that 360-page book. You know what, I’ve had a jolt of caffeine this morning, let’s drop the handling charge and just say it takes half an hour to read a book.

    Judging by the number of reviews posted to Amazon, HK can read upwards of 14 books per day! Let’s say she gives 3 minutes to writing each review. That’s 8 hours a day (7 hours reading, about an hour for reviews). 8 hours. Devoted to nothing but reading. Is this realistic? I think not. (Therefore, I am not. Ba-dum crash!)

    I boldly propose, ladies and gentlemen, that Harriet Klausner does not exist!

    (Jonathan Winters portrait notwithstanding)

    The math clearly indicates that she is a house-shill for Amazon, a front for dozens of would-be reviewers!

    But wait! There’s more! More evidence to follow…

  2. And another thing?

    Every single book read by Harriet Klausner is rated at either five or four stars (very few are rated at four stars). Which, loosely translated means that every single word ever published is golden. There is no crap. There is only fine literature. It’s all good, baby.

    Here’s how a typical conversation with HK (if she existed) would go:

    Interviewer: Good Morning Mis Klausner. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

    HK: War and Peace. I gave it four stars.

    Gimme a break. Maybe Scott can break her streak by recommending a book for her to read.

  3. Klausner’s reviews are posted to Amazon.com on the very day the book is released. Every single time.

    When I was submitting reviews on Amazon, it sometimes took up to a week before the editors checked through my review and posted it. [OK, so I’m still a little sore from those editor clowns removing the best piece of review I ever typed. In reference to Saberhagen’s The Dracula Tape, I noted: “The plot was so full of holes you could pass a Robert Jordan Book through it.” Amazon cut it. ]

    But HK gets her 4- or 5-star reviews posted on the day of release. Oooh. A 5-star book. Well doesn’t that just make we wanna click Buy Now.

    Manipulation. Plain and simple.

  4. Klausner update:

    On November 6, HK had 45 reviews posted on Amazon (all of them rated 4 or 5 stars)

    On Novemner 7, HK had 92(!) reviews posted on Amazon (all of them rated 4 or 5 stars)

    I rest my case.

  5. You mean posted that day? Otherwise, I think your thesis falls apart if she only has 95 reviews total.

    BTW, do you troll the Amazon site for the express purpose of feeding your Klausner obsession?

  6. Yes, I mean posted each day. That’s 137 reviews posted in two days. To be fair though, The Klausner Collective did not post anything on the three days prior to 11/6. So she had 3 days to read the ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SEVEN (!) novels

    And, yes.

  7. Well, Harriet even seems to have time to read the web!

    Ms. Klausner, I am begging you – PLEASE STOP IT!!! When I’m looking for new books to read, I often try to glean the quality of a book by seeing the reviews that it gets. Usually this start by my checking the ratings on Amazon.

    You skew the book reviews to the point where if you have a reviewed a book, I no longer even consider it for purchase, unless it happens to be a book I was planning to buy despite any reviews.

    Your reviews have gotten so far out of hand that you are hurting the authors now. A review scale that has only two possible ratings in it (4 or 5 stars) is pretty much worthless.

    Again I implore you – PLEASE STOP IT! You are hurting the book industry and you are imparing the value of honest reader’s input.

    Most sincerely,

    = Ed Rotberg =

  8. Amen. Harriet Klausner reviews are more annoying than pop-up ads. Here are some things I would say to Ms. (Mrs.?) Klausner if I could:

    1) Harriet, you have no life.

    2) Harriet, you rate every single book at four or five stars.

    3) Harriet, please get a life and leave us poor Amazon customers alone. No one finds your reviews helpful anyway.

    Thank you.

  9. Just ran into Klausner, the #1 ranked reviewer on Amazon, and decided to look for a biography and ran into this.

    I fully agree, she is fake. I liken her to the 10,000 people who were each given one day to watch Jesus’ life through a time portal, in the Arthur Clarke book, “Light of Other Days”. There are apparently full-timers working at Amazon book reviewers who spend their days culling other reviews. I wonder if one were to print all “Klausner”‘s reviews and put all the words to a Google agent, would plagiarism be revealed?

  10. In John Birmingham’s newest Alternate History novel, Designated Targets, he inserted a character named Harriet Klausner into the story. I can only hope he did this as a test to see if Harriet would catch it. Well, surprisingly, in her 5-star review posted on the day of the book’s release, there was no mention at all of her character. Now, if I saw myself characterized in a book I was reviewing, I believe I might make some mention of it in acknowledgement. Obviously, she does not read the books she is reviewing.

  11. Hah! Although, I would think that authors would love to see puff reviews with inflated ratings, this is the best news I heard all year! :D

  12. Heh. My newsfeeds picked up this Klausner review of Peter F. Hamilton’s HUGE space opera, Judas Unchained, the sequel to Pandora’s Star, which I recently spent two weeks reading (it was also huge).

    Two funny things about the review:

    1. It’s three short paragraphs instead of her normal two.

    2. The closing comment: “…the audience should obtain the first tale and set aside a couple of weeks to a month to read both as these are well worth your time”. Yeah, OK. Or, if you can read upwards of 100 books a day, maybe squeeze it in with your morning coffee.

  13. HK drives me crazy as well. Anyone can write reveiws by reading the pre-publication blurbs. Get a life lady, and leave our books alone.

  14. (6) I decided years ago, while a member of the Dorothy L mystery listserv, that H the K is a syndicate of some sort. She would review 5-6 books a day and then I found that she was doing the same on a romance list as well as SF. Even if she was actually skimming then and not just reading the first and last chapters and the blurb, she was NOT reading them thoroughly enough to call it reviewing. My personal favorite was when she was describing the characters in one novel and mentioned the fact that one of them had an identical twin. Which happened to be the big plot twist at the end of the book. That was one ticked off author!

    Barbara

  15. Harriet Klausner is a WONDERFUL reviewer – she see beyond the grammar boo boos to the true gritt of the story and the true talent of the writer. She fearlessly encourages a new writer to keep going until she/he has accomplished a more polished work. I send her a 5 start /5 heart rating and think critizism directed torward her is not only unfair but unnecassary. I love her and hope she is around at least another 100 years to review into the future. As for you – doubting Thomas – Go – attempt to write War and Peace much less read then review it. BAh you probably can’t write your mother a decent letter.

  16. This is the most entertaining Blog commentary ever!

    John you are being exceptionally well behaved my friend… RELEASE THE HOUNDS!! :-@

  17. I’ve really enjoyed reading the “Debunking Harriet Klausner” posts.

    I was unaware of the alleged existence of HK until just a day or two ago. I looked at her record on Amazon, did the math, and thought, “Who’s kidding whom?”

    Thanks again for your HK skepticism.

    Now … how about the Loch Ness monster?

  18. Fellas,

    I took the liberty of emailing HK and got this response…

    Of course I can give you a review! I’ll do it right here, right now. Oh sure, I can do it in the format for SFSignal. I love those guys; they try so hard! Don’t worry, I don’t need to actually read the book; only dumb reviewers would need to spend the time to do that!

    MY RATING: 5/5 stars!

    REVIEW SUMMARY: Bravo! Excellent work, it was real page turner!

    PROS: Just right number of pages! Very satisfying! The pages were cut really evenly so it was very easy to turn them. They didn’t even stick together which is always a plus!

    CONS: Just not enough pages! I was very disappointed that the story ended so soon. I wish there were more pages left; did I mention it was a real page turner?

    BOTTOMLINE:Magnificent book! Definitely run out and buy it on Amazon.com! If you point to this review, they might even give you a 25% discount! Heck, they might just give it to you for free!

    SUMMARY: Isn’t it good enough that I said it’s a good book! Go read it! I’m not going to tell you everything about it! Reading is a personal thing! Go read! You should read! Reading is FUNdamental! But you should only read books that I recommend and only if you buy them on Amazon.com!!

  19. Interesting to note the stats for the top Amazon reviewers…

    Name then total reviews and average helpful votes per review

    1. Harriet Klausner 11298 , 6.27

    2. Lawrance M. Bernabo 12616 , 5.86

    3. Donald Mitchell 2808 , 17.45

    4. Gail Cooke 3365 , 7.47

    5. Rebecca Johnson 2551 , 11.73

    6. Joanna Daneman 1898 , 14.72

    7. E. A Solinas 2892 , 10.39

    8. Marc Ruby 1565 , 14.21

    9. John Matlock 2573 , 6.25

    10. Barron Laycock 1140 , 29.92

    11. Grady Harp 2487 , 10.09

    12. Robert Morris 1326 , 12.39

    13. FrKurt Messick 2194 , 7.85

    14. Darth Kommissar 2022 , 10.10

    15. Daniel Jolley 2178 , 7.56

    16. P D Harris 2479 , 5.04

    17. Kurt A. Johnson 1887 , 6.19

    18. Alejandra Vernon 1350 , 11.08

    19. W Boudville 2466 , 5.90

    20. Lawyeraau 1956 , 10.36

    50. R. Hardy 704 , 16.54

    100. B. King 1175 , 6.13

    592434. M. Smith 3 , 1.3

    This doesn’t tell us much, but the top two definitely look suspect.

  20. I feel bad for Donald Mitchell. That poor SOB is actually READING the darn books and will always be a bridesmaid and never a bride.

  21. OH MY GOSH. So… bored tonite and looking for a potential book to buy and then I was like, “what is the deal with Harriet Klausner she reviews nearly every book I look at” so I finally googled her and got to this really weird website of hers and then this stream of chat… made me smile. because I had no idea anyone else was questioning the existence or need for Harriet Klausner’s reviews… I assumed she worked for some publishing house but she writes for a variety of authors… weird. Thanks for the info!

  22. I just emailed Harriet Klausner (or is it Krausner)? She has also reviewed on Netflix just as she does on Amazon. I have asked her to stop thinking she knows how to review. She consistently offers blow by blow descriptions of plots in a sophomoric attempt at being a reviewer. I think she is delusional and probably votes for herself. I asked her to take a few courses on reviewing because her life experience obviously does not qualify her to review anything. There are others like her about which I have complained to Netflix about…there are some misguided (unsophisticated/educated?) souls who have self-appointed themselves as experts in the review of books and film…God help us! I was extremely disappointed when she ruined a season of Carnivale for me on Netflix and also revealed plot spoilers on Amazon on The Poisoned Rose….how ignorant!

  23. “So…the general consensus is that Quicksilver is a crap book…”

    Not my consensus. The Baroque Cycle was one of the best works I read, the year I read all three.

    HK seems to automatically give five stars to anything. Any length. Any subject. I’d like to see her tackle “Godel, Escher, Bach” and see what her rating would be. But I’m afraid her brain would melt.

  24. I’d like to say that for a fact, as a reviewer, I have noticed that many of her reviews are WRONG. she gets facts wrong, names wrong.. she even changed the outcome of a story. I have heard from authors who are livid and are not happy when she reviews their books.

    Her problem? She has a need to be #1 – and while I do believe she’s reading the books, she is at a point where she can’t keep up, so she’s skimming them. sometimes I wonder if she’s even doing that. I don’t blame her for wanting to be #1 – but I personally take pride when I review a book, and I try to get facts right. I don’t make them up like Harriet does sometimes…

  25. I have sent her corrections and suggestions when she makes mistakes and she just ignores me, a fellow New Yorker. There is no intellectual exercise in reading for speed. Yet Alfred A. Knopf sends her all their new titles free. This disturbs me profoundly.:-@

  26. My firm opinion is that things are not as they appear to be when it comes to HK. Either she is a single individual who operates as a shill for book publishers, or a complete made-up person purely for the purpose of online reviews, or the product of a collective. Perhaps there is an element of all of these.

    As for Quicksilver…Fred, did you get a plot in your copy? I seemed to be missing one in mine. I’ve always had a very high opinion of Stephenson and went so far as to get a signed copy of this one – much to my chagrin. This is my frequent example of a book I’m unhappy about paying a hefty price for ($30!!) and as such that colors my opinion of it. I disliked it so much, I’m going to be very reticent to purchase another of Stephenson’s works without finding out first that it marks a return to something approaching the story-driven style that made him famous.

  27. “As for Quicksilver…Fred, did you get a plot in your copy?”

    Yes. Several dozen plots. That was one reason I enjoyed it so much, the wide number of story threads.

    I will admit that third time was the charm for me with the first book. I tried it, couldn’t get hooked, put it down. Tried it a second time and was still not hooked. But then I brought it with me on a weekend where I was doing two double shifts and forced myself to read x-hundred pages. Oddly enough, well before that goal, I started “getting it”, following the threads, etc., and before long I was hooked. The next year I read all three back-to-back.

    It isn’t for everyone, to be sure. I never liked his stuff until Cryptnomicon (I’ve yet to get past the first chapter of Snow Crash, but I’ve got friends who swear that it is the greatest thing since sliced bread.).

    If we all liked what everybody else liked, what the heck would we comment about on these SF Signal comment boards?

    (H)

  28. I just recently discovered the reviews on Amazon. Along with the reviews I discovered Harriet Klausner. I also discovered that I have a profound dislike for her. She seems to have reviewed every book I want to read. So I thought I’d Google her and found this lovely discussion. You guys have made my night. :D

  29. I wonder how she has time to do anything else, if she even does. She’s not only on Amazon, but pops up on Barnes and Noble.com, too.

  30. I’ve had a severe loathing of Harriet Klausner for years. She is a deceptive, illiterate nutjob with delusions of grandeur. Never googled her until now. It’s great to see that I am not alone.

  31. Wow, still going strong 3 YEARS later. Unfortunately, we are the 5th result if you Google for ‘Harriet Klausner’. We must fix this. Upward!

  32. If you go to the web site thebestreviews.com and look under the profiles of reviewers you can see a picture of Ms. Klausner and you will get an eyeful. I can’t stand this woman. I think that she really exists and is just out to get free books and drive the ratings up for the books she reviews so that people will buy them.

  33. I’ve seen pictures of and interviews with “Harriet Klausner” in various places on the internet and they’re all of the same woman, so obviously she is a real person. But the name may be invented and I doubt she reads all the books which she “reviews”. In that sense I believe she’s probably a fraud and I agree with previous posters. She just doesn’t make sense as an actual person claiming to do what she does and she’s either getting some kind of kickbacks or she’s doing it for internet fame. If it’s the latter I must say it’s a novel way (no pun intended) of becoming famous. A google search of her name returns more than a million and a half results. Her “reviews” are all fluff and no substance, usually just basic synopses of plots that show no real insight and could very well be written by someone who hasn’t even touched the books she writes about. (By the way, I propose that someone create a Wikipedia page about her and her “controversy”.) For your consideration, here is a link to one of her online interviews: http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110006483 .

  34. Joe,

    I read her Amazon review of your The Last Secret, and it is different from her normal review, IMO. It does appear to be a bit more than her usual re-hash of the back cover synopsis and she actually referes to herself in the review. Nice job.

    And I’ll be picking up the first book in your series to see what its like. I did this based on your website, not Klausner’s review…

  35. Hi Joe,

    I read the posted comments here with great interest.I am a slow reader, and so it took more than an hour to read all the comments. I have reviewed so far 19 novels and posted them at the Amazon website. I do not know how Harriet Klausner reviews dozens of books a week. (I do not mean to criticize her). It took me two weeks to read The Kite Runner, for example, and two and a half weeks to read Life of Pi. I read books slowly because I derive great joy from reading well written novels. I see no point in reading a good book fast. Don’t rush through a book; relax, read slowly, and experience the joy of reading. Authors spend years in writing a book. It took me more than two years to write my novel,”The Beech Tree”. I would be distressed if I hear that somebody read it in eighteen minutes.

    Yesh Prabhu, author of “The Beech Tree”.

  36. how did i get here…

    On amazon, reading reviews for a new camera lens,

    happened to see that reviewers had rankings.

    Immediately curious as to who was number one.

    The outrageous number of reviews by this Harriet Klausner person made me google her, and ended up here… this thread has made my night. Funny stuff :)

    cheers

  37. I think the only way to put an end to HK is to do what she does — post an insane number of reviews on Amazon that does nothing but outlines and gives kudos to books (or even better, trashes the book as an Anti-HK). Then maybe people will see the inaneness of her reviews! We can call him, “Klaus Harrier.”

  38. Why is Klausner ranked #1 even though the #2 reviewer received more “helpful” votes, both in total and in proportion to the number of reviews written? Amazon.com says (in its “Reviewers FAQ”) that reviewers are ranked according to the number of helpful votes they receive from other users, NOT based on the total number of reviews written. Any thoughts? Just curious.

  39. There is definitely something fishy between Amazon and Klausner. Her reviews ALWAYS appear on the day of the book’s release. I know she gets pre-release review copies of books – that’s fine – but back when I submitted reviews to Amazon, it took days to get posted and the lag time fluctuated. So how could her reviews be perfectly so perfectly timed? I suspect she has special channels through which to submit her content…channels that are unavailable to the rest of us.

    But don’t get me started… :)

  40. I can understand why Amazon might want to give special posting privileges to its top reviewer. But I still don’t understand why the #2 reviewer has more “helpful” votes than the #1 reviewer. Amazon purports to rank reviewers based on the number of helpful votes.

  41. :-@

    love the comments on this board. I actually know Harriet — went to school with her in the Bronx. I agree with Rob Davies’ comment on this board. All I can say is that she is indeed a real person. Maybe she’s in it for the free books.

  42. I can totally confirm Julie’s account simply because I was friends Ivan, who went to school with David, who was roommate with Greg, who dated Wanda, who used to clean the house of Jack, whose nanny was Gaudalupe, who was the next door neighbor of the man whom Julie buys her daily coffee from…

  43. I thought it was odd that she seemed to have reviewed every book I’ve looked into.

    I looked up her website, and saw she offered all of her reviews. Oh, wow, amazing, I thought.

    Wait a minute, I thought. Does she have any bad reviews? I tried searching through them randomly. No, she doesn’t.

    That can’t be possible, as others have stated.

    I read a news article about her, and again, thought she was legit.

    Then I realized, all her reviews, the last paragraph that states how good the book is, are all similar.

    And then I came upon this site, and am glad to see I’m not the only one suspicious of her and her reviews.

  44. She claims she doesn’t review any book she doesn’t like – so I assume that means she’s read more books than she has reviewed, and simply just doesn’t create one of those in-depth, hard-hitting reviews for them. :D

  45. fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake fake

    shes a fake no more discussion

  46. the only way i will beliueve of hers existance is that i get to f*** her while she tells me 1000 of her reviews or so

  47. I had to edit your comment for language abes – this is a family blog.

    And did you see her picture? She looks like Jonathan Winters!!! Eww.

  48. Harriet Klausner and her Amazon.com reviews have annoyed me for several years now. I was pleased to note that one of her recent reviews on Amazon.com was pulled when her posted review received a comment pointing out that she had not read the book because her review was totally inaccurate.

  49. Yeah, “she” really irritates me as well. I’m convinced she’s definitely got some deal with amazon. Not only does she often post her review of a book the day it is released, but I am convinced that she frequently submits her reviews to amazon BEFORE the book is published. And that’s despite the fact that Amazon does not allow the average person to write a review before its release date- there simply isn’t a ‘write a review’ option.

    For example, the most recent book I’ve noticed is FOR A FEW DEMONS MORE by Kim Harrison. If you go to Amazon and search for Kim Harrison, the book in question will be listed along with all the others. It is also, however, listed with a five star rating. When you click on the link, and look at the book, there is no review on the book page and no option to review because it doesn’t get released until MARCH 20, 2007! (If you simply search using the title it doesn’t show a rating so make sure you click on the author’s link to look at all her books. I don’t know why it’s like that.) THEN, if you go to barnes and noble and look for the same book, you’ll notice that HK has already written a five star review (shocker) on that site. Coincidence? I think not.

  50. I have read this whole entire blog and agree. I knew she posted alot of reviews but my gosh I never realized it was so many. I only read the reviews at Barnes and Noble and her reviews don’t really say much. I could get basically the same info off the covers. It basically makes her reviews worthless if she never reviews anything below a 4 star rating. Heck I want on the mailing lists she on to get all those free books! :-P

  51. It’s hard to imagine she really exits. Has anyone gone to her website? it’s sort of spooky, what with the fuzzy, poor quality of the photograph and the lack of real specifics in the biographical bit; i.e. moving to Georgia and working for “the library.” Yet, if you do the math (which is about 13,157 current reviews written since 2000, which is the time she began reviewing according to a Wall Street Journal article) it comes to about 5 books a day read and reviewed (7 years = 2,548 days divided by 13,157 reviews). This is the amount that she has always claimed to read in a day, according to various sources.

  52. I noticed Klausner years ago and thought her reviews were completely inept. She not only likes everything, but it’s clear she never actually reads the books. If I see a book in the bookstore with a review from her I refuse to buy it on principle.

  53. I’ve been irritated by the fraudulent Ms.K for a long time. Just recently I’ve added some comments to her farcial amazon reviews. Originally she claimed to be a speed reader who read two books a day. When her reviewing pace had far outstripped her supposed reading rate she changed her speed claims to “five or six books a day”. Of course that still doesn’t explain the memorable day she posted ninety-one reviews.

    Anyone who has read her reviews will see that they are full of grammatical errors, at least her own sentences, not the ones she lifts from other sources. She also misuses words, is a demon for the run on sentence, and frequently gets the names of characters wrong.

    I don’t mind so much when the book in question is some crappy bodice ripper, or a Nascar romance,(yes-sadly there is such a category), but it really pisses me off when she reviews a book by an author I respect. She reviewed the last novel by Paul Auster, and had the audacity to use the word existential in her review. I would love to know what Harriet thinks the word means.

  54. Two points:

    1.) Does anyone really care about the reader reviews on Amazon? Personally, I’ve never been swayed by one of them. If I’m interested in a book I’m going to buy it regardless of what anyone – let alone HK – might have to say on the matter. Ignore her…ignore all the reader reviews.

    2.) If HK pisses you off that much click on the ‘NO’ button where it says, ‘Was this review helpful to you?’ It’s the only way to driver her ranking/relevance down.

  55. Wow, glad to see I’m not alone. For years I’ve been suspicious of the farce that is Harriet Klausner, with her silly, always-positive, gazillion reviews a day.

  56. But this [Whoa hey! Let’s take it easy with the curse words. — Ed.] lady is not alone, I’m not sure why you guys aren’t seeing John Matlock “Gunny”, W. Boudville, and the rest. Just peruse the amazon “Top Reviewers” page, a lot of them (most? all?) are frauds of the same kind as Henriette Kalumner. Of course she (if she is a real person) has [See above! — Ed.] compared to the others, 13000 reviews in what, like five years maybe since Amazon started this review racket? that’s a bold statement.

  57. Unfortunately, negative votes do nothing to the ranking. I asked. it only looks at the yes votes…

  58. It really should be the ratio of helpful votes to total responses.

    HK would sink like a stone.

  59. Has anyone seen a recent picture of Harry? She looks like a leprechaun. I really have to apologize to all of the leprechauns out there for the comparison. :-@

  60. The Harriet Klausner phenomenon is little more than a poor literary joke.

    This person, real or imagined, has allegedly read 12,000 or 20,000 or 50,000 books or whatever, none of which, remarkably, were bad! No fewer than 4 stars for anything ever written!

    It would be stunning and wonderful if there really was as much good literature out there as the Harriet Klausner Experience would have you believe.

    The reality is that, whoever or whatever Harriet Klausner may be, she is no a reviewer. The entity known as Harriet Klausner is merely a regurgitation device that spews positive thumb-nail sketches across the land in aid of publishers and book-sellers.

    One cannot completely blame Harriet Klausner as he/she/it/they are only in it for the limited fame allotted to the purported world leader in book reviewing. And the free books, of course.

    The real culprit in this sham is Amazon, who recklessly employ the hack rave reviews of a fly-leaf copying toady to flog their books, good or bad.

    Last night I finished a James Patterson novel. Today I looked at the reviews, and the majority confirmed my opinion that it was something less than stellar. Harriet Klausner, of course, gave it a glowing, 5-star “review”. Only 4 of 18 readers felt her review was helpful, which seems pretty anaemic for someone of such lofty pseudo-credentials.

    It seems entirely possible that Harriet Klausner was never in the same room with the book I’d read . . .

    A few years ago it came to light that Sony created a movie reviewer from whole-cloth to plant raves about the studio’s films.

    Harriet Klausner is to literary review what “David Manning” of The Ridgefield Press is to film review. Fake, phoney, planted, shilled.

    Take any and all comments printed under the name Harriet Klausner with a pillar of salt.

  61. The “Harriet Klausner Experience” sounds like a great band name. I can see it now:

    Tonight only, The Harriet Klausner Experience Featuring The Literary Stylings Of John Denardo!

  62. All,

    First, I want to send a fond “hello” to my brethren from http://www.amazon.com. I have been posting about HK’s ridiculous reviews on that site for three weeks or so and was surprised to realize, two weeks ago, that people have been doing the same thing for nearly four years! Ridiculing HK seems to have become a social behavior, passed from poster to poster, in the best traditions of the epic.

    However, the gods of all those epics have been revealed to be simple wisps of air, and a powerful gust of wind has been brewing to scatter all the remnants of Harriet Klausner to oblivion. On http://www.amazon.com recently, a perceptive poster stated that, far from our comments being ineffectual, eventually a “critical mass” will develop. This critical mass will be formed of our collective rage over the idiocy and corrupt business practices construed by HK upon trusting readers of Amazon and Barnes book reviews.

    In the “real” world, many things which people feel they “cannot do anything about” are eventually noticed by the journalistic world, and then, wow, things get DONE!

    I propose that any with journalistic connections who visit this site get involved. Failing that, we should compile our points, allusions, inferences, facts, and outside knowledge into one succinct letter that will then be sent along to all of the major news networks. Of course, our story will not be an “Anna Nicole Smith” or a “Britney’s Psychosis Manifests Itself” level story, and the sarcasm is intended.

    I believe that, as its idealistic, altruistic core, journalism’s true purpose is to disseminate information about corrupt practices, be they corporate, personal, or national. The “outrage of the mob” is a tool easily manipulated (and seldom correctly)–but is also always effective in altering the corrupt (or unwanted) behavior.

    Am I comparing this to Watergate, WMD-nonexistence, or MLK-jr’s sacrifice? Surely you jest. But at it’s center, this farce known as HK (and by several other names, for corruption is Legion) represents some of the worst aspects of the human condition: greed, misdirection, manipulation, and hubris. Surely, if we are lucky and persistent enough, some journalistic entity will feel that this fraud is worth a story. Those who state that we “should engender ourselves to Amazon’s and Barnes’s complaint hierarchy” are deluding themselves. Problems do not get noticed, much less solved, by following “suggested channels”.

    Let’s face it, these complaint channels are there mostly for corporations to point at should lawsuits be filed against them.

    “See, we have the proper channels to fix those sorts of problems, and we therefore are not liable for lies and misdeeds committed on our website!”

    Meanwhile, after their collective butts are covered, these corporations are free to blissfully ignore any fraudulent activity conducted under their noses. It’s a simple fact, and unfortunate truth of the human condition that without “checks and balances”, many people drift towards giving themselves unfair advantage at another’s expense.

    Step 1: collect some examples of Harriet’s and other, suspicious “reviewers” works and store them. (I was tempted to write “collect underpants” for step 1, but was trying to maintain the seriousness here.)

    Step 2: prepare a succinct summary, referencing key examples of “non-review” reviews or outright plagiarism.

    Step 3: detail our reasons for pursuing the correction of these fraudulent activities.

    Step 4: simultaneously create a specific website or forum dedicated to “watch-dogging” all known, and suspected, fraudulent reviewers.

    Step 5: post several “sticky” posts on the future website or forum, detailing what we already “know” about these reviewers, so that a concrete knowledge base will be established.

    And please, no “why should we”, “it won’t accomplish anything”, or “get a life” posts as reply. All accomplish nothing and reveal subservience to the status quo. Things change because certain people get angry enough to do something, while the rest jeer and throw tomatoes. But eventually, things always change.

    Cheers,

    MK

  63. Very interesting to read so many comments about this woman. I was directed to this website by another Amazoner and I have to admit…I’m delighted that I am not the only one to find this woman’s voracious reading a little suspect…thanks for buttressing my confidence in HK’s fraud-ness.

  64. Sigh.

    While HK’s current reviews are downright scary to read, I began worrying about her startling ability to read and review so many books back in early 2004.

    I’m a published romance author (save the boos and hisses, folks) and while her review did touch on secondary characters that appeared…well, she added that it was a certain subgenre of historical, which it clearly was not.

    In fact, by naming that sub-genre, she’d negated all the research I had done to place the plot at that exact moment in history. Now, this might seem minor to some, but to me it was a huge blow. Even my publisher said, “Ouch”.

    But, of course I got a 4, which I now understand means nothing.

    The thing is, a reader came in and pointed out HK’s screw up (rather saucily). At that moment I wanted to crawl under a table. “No, no, no! Don’t piss off HK!”

    Truth be told, her reviews are everywhere. And like it or not, she does hold some power. As an author, I have to bow to that power. I mean, never burn your bridges, ya know?

    C (who still really believes she skimmed less on my book than she does now)

  65. Shame on you, C. You coulda drove a truck for a living and be independent of Harriet Klausner and the like. Why is it that you enslave yourself to these frauds?

  66. Harriet Klausner does not read all the books. She rewrites other reviews, in particular Kirkus because it comes out first. Read closely, you’ll see. She uses the same language.

  67. Shame on YOU, postman. C isn’t dependent on HK; she’s a writer trying to make an honest living. HOW DARE YOU insult a writer who is terrified she might lose her living because of a bad review. Quite frankly, most of us writers would rather have a bullet in the head than do anything else, even if YOU don’t approve of it, and that includes truck driving, which doesn’t seem very honest to me.

    Stick it up your privileged little ass, postman.

  68. :)

    Ah, but even as a trucker, Postman, there would be somebody to bow to. Someone or some corporate entity that could make life unpleasant.

    If I was an independent trucker it could be:

    1) The bank that holds the loan on my truck.

    2) With or without my truck being free of a loan, the companies I woo to haul for. On mostly their terms, of course. I mean, I can’t fill the truck with empty space and just run all over the country expecting to be paid. LOL

    And heaven forbid I don’t fulfill on that contract. Then I’m worrying about food, home, perhaps truck loan, deisel, yada yada. (A whole subset of things needed to be bowed to.)

    If I was a trucker without a truck of my own in just an everyday hookup:

    1) I count on my company to get loads for me to haul, hence my continuing income.

    2) I may have to take the cross country trips or risk being fired. (But even local UPS drivers have tremendously long hours and physical mandates to keep their jobs.)

    3) Back to most of the things at the end of the above. I still have food, home, taxes, and other things to deal with. Cuz I’m pretty sure this company will not want me making a permanent residence in one of their trucks.

    My point is, we all bow to something or someone. What and who is based on your particular profession.

    Plus, there are those we consider “frauds” in every profession. Ask any one of your friends, “Who at work drives you crazy? Who at work is getting kudos you don’t think they deserve?”. And you know, based on who you ask within the same company (from top to bottom), you’ll get many different answers.

    So no, I don’t feel any shame at understanding my business and knowing that while I don’t have to like my reviews, I do have to take into consideration the “power” of them.

    What I am asking for every author though, is, “Please Please do not take your dislike for HK’s reviews out on the book.” We get reviewed by many entities and we deal with it. It adds a new dimension to have someone hate the reviewer, and hence come in and bash.

    We can’t control who reviews us. Please take that into consideration.

    C

  69. The point is not that you “bow down” to someone, but that you bow down to a useless fraud such as HK. And what is it that you’re writing that HK’s entitled to pronounce on it? Must be same kind of crap as what she reviews… “hilarious romp blah blah”…

    I’d rather drive a truck. But to each his own, of course.

  70. Ah…

    I “get” you now, Postman.

    Your response was extremely venemous without provocation from me.

    You have a torch to wield, so have at it. Yours is an undignified game I choose not to play.

    Best to you in all your endeavours.

    C

  71. Oh wait – while I agree C that Postman might indeed have had a purely venemous motive, there is a more subtle argument in there. I tend to believe the best in people, so…

    Postman wrote: “And what is it that you’re writing that HK’s entitled to pronounce on it?” If I rephrase that: “Have enough self confidence in your writing such that you don’t even WANT HK to review it.” You shouldn’t need her 4 or 5 stars, and can hope your books don’t even get reviewed by her.

    Because I don’t write professionally I do lack your perspective, but I can still encourage you to feel good about the work you do such that the only critics you want attention from are your customers who pay for the priviledge.

    In the truck driving analogy (which I frankly don’t quite understand the relevance of) you should work to please your customers, but not some independant driver reviewing agency who does so for largely personal gains.

    Scott

  72. I’ve noticed that the HK reviews are almost always written with information you could have gotten from the dust jacket or Publisher’s Weekly blurbs – never any commentary on style, or whether it was interesting. It’s always fluff, always content-based, and always poorly done. She rarely gets helpful votes. I really don’t understand how Amazon can allow it.

  73. Yes, Scott

    I did miss the mark on that analogy. I was trying to get across the point that outside opinions “can and do” have some sway over us even in the truck driving business. (Why Postman chose truck drivers, I dunno.) Some entity is always judging and voicing an opinion, be it good or bad, in every aspect of our lives.

    As an author, reviews DO mean something. You can’t toss them by the wayside in thinking that everyone hates this reviewer, so it will hold no power. That is not reality. Reviewers do have followers, and they take to heart the recommendations of the reviewer.

    And, in this case with the hate HK thing, it is now as bad to be reviewed by her as not. It’s a no win situation for an author, and we have no control over either.

    Plus, I can understand that I should be proud of my work, but you took a mid-sentence of Postman’s post, and did not look to the rest.

    Postman wrote: And what is it that you’re writing that HK’s entitled to pronounce on it? Must be same kind of crap as what she reviews… “hilarious romp blah blah”…

    This is exactly the thing I asked not to happen in my “truck” post. Please do NOT take it out on an author for reviews we receive. Hate the reviewer, or love the reviewer…it has nothing to do with the book or the author. It’s an opinion we can’t control.

    Without even a reading, my book has been labeled as “crap” by a person who hates HK.

    How fair is that?

  74. C, all I’m saying is that if I were doing something where my success depended in any way on an “evaluation” from a grotesque joke of a “reviewer” like HK, I’d do something else. Nothing venomous in these words, I hope.

  75. I think HK exists for a reason. My guess is that Amazon decided not to post back of the book and/or dust jacket summaries and it works out b/c HK does it. for “free” maybe. even if “she” gets free books, it’s probably a lot cheaper than posting summaries of each popular book.

    otherwise I don’t see why Amazon would put up with her, given the complaints.

    Maybe amazon didn’t do this on purpose (or maybe they did). but they must know that plot summaries is what they are getting and since it provides info to the reader, everyone’s happy. except for those of us getting irritated at HK for being beyond absurd.

    A lot of reviewers don’t summarize the plot but HK does, which gives the prospective reader a chance to see what it’s all about. Then she rates everything as 4 or 5 stars to guarantee that her plot summaries don’t skew the book downward.

    some books have the “search inside the book” option where you can read excerpts etc. but that is time-consuming to do for each popular book plus it takes reader effort to find that information.

    a while back, amazon added an option to comment on each review. I’m sure that was done so that reviewers would stop evaluating previous reviews instead of reviewing the book. However, perhaps another reason was to give readers a chance to vent about HK.

    I agree with C. I think it is not fair to an author to decide against a book just b/c HK has “reviewed” it. She “reviews” so many books that IMO this would shut out too many deserving books and authors.

    Maybe a better alternative is to suggest Amazon provide an “ignore reviewer” feature in which case her reviews don’t show up. I enjoy reading most reviews. It doesn’t change my mind about any book I really want to buy, but I like them anyway. I want to view them – except for hers. :)

  76. I just found about Harriet Klausner today. I usually skip to the lowest rating reviews, if what they criticize is not important to me, then I buy the book.

    Harriet’s reviews are not reviews, those are plot summaries. Amazon needs to stop her. Just create a hundred or so reviewers doing her same work and you’ll fool everyone for a little more time.

  77. For those who have questions about how the Amazon ranking system works, see Amazon Voting Rubric. This is something I decoded back in 2001, and they haven’t changed anything basic in it since.

    Of relevance to this discussion, negative votes do have an influence on a person’s rank, but they have much less effect than positive votes.

    As far as HK’s output is concerned, yes, it is incredible, but Lawrance Bernabo the #2 reviewer has matched and in fact exceeded Harriet’s output, though it should be noted that Lawrence reviews many other things than just books, many of which don’t take nearly as long to evaluate as books do. Unlike Harriet’s reviews, Lawrance’s are usually thoughtful, well written, and really do provide potential customers a decent handle on whether the product is worth purchasing. Lately, however, Lawrance has deleted a large number of his reviews, due to snit with Amazon over a new feature that allows people to comment on reviews, and is artificially holding his total number to 6666.

  78. Thanks John (his name is my name too, but I digress.) The paper titled Six Degrees of Reputation was awesome.

    I was just dissapointed I couldn’t post a review of it on the site.

    ;)

  79. scottsh, I understood that was a joke. :-)

    What is “the First Monday site” ?

  80. I see people slamming HK’s reviews on Amazon- creating hate-threads attached to the reviews and all I can think is — wow, I wonder how that writer feels about that?

    Okay- so maybe HK is a joke- who knows- but you people who attack her and in turn attack the writers that she has reviewed (WHO HAD NO SAY IN THE MATTER) just piss me off.

    Instead of spending your time flitting around Amazon and Barnes & Noble looking reading her “reviews” maybe you could all start buying books and actually provide REAL REVIEWS.

    :-$

  81. “writergirl” – I agree completely in most aspects. That’s why I do in fact read and review books often.

    However, fraud must be exposed. We don’t know for a fact that HK is a fraud, but I fear that she is and so I feel compelled to come forward with whatever evidence I have and share that with the broader community.

    The fact that this has exposed other problems with the Amazon review system is a fun side-effect.

    And First Monday is the name of the site that you linked to first that included the essay, John Jacob – http://www.firstmonday.org.

  82. Aw… silly me. Thanks scottsh.

    :-)

    ——————————————————————–

    writergirl wrote:

    >I see people slamming HK’s reviews on Amazon- creating hate-threads

    >attached to the reviews and all I can think is — wow, I wonder how

    >that writer feels about that?

    What does the writer have to do with it? That said, who cares? Why should that writer worry about HK, her reviews, and user comments on her reviews? Also, how did that writer feel about getting HK to review his book?

    > Okay- so maybe HK is a joke- who knows-

    Oh, you’re not sure, I see. Really, who knows? Today our dear old Harriet dumped 68 reviews on Amazon, but, hey, who knows… maybe she did read 68 books today, right?

    >Instead of spending your time flitting around Amazon and Barnes

    >& Noble looking reading her “reviews” maybe you could all start

    >buying books and actually provide REAL REVIEWS.

    When we need your advice, we’ll ask for it. Meantime, if you have a book out, don’t hire shills like HK to puff it.

  83. bah, y’all totally missed it… didn’t you realize? “writergirl” is HARRIET KLAUSNER!! She’s even gotten to the point where she didn’t care if you read her reviews, she just want you to buy the books…

    JP, did you log where her post came from? is it from the same subnet as Amazon.com?

  84. This series of posts fascinated me. Nobody has mentioned the financial incentive such reviewers may have. Many freelance reviewers get free books from publishers, which they sell for 25 percent of the cover price to bookstores that buy review copies (which mark them up and sell them at half price). This could amount to thousands of dollars a months for reviewers who get all the titles of major publishers. And it can lead to tremendous review inflation, because reviewers who give negative reviews may have the cash flow cut off.

    I’ve always had a policy on my site, One-Minute Book Reviews, of never taking free books from publishers (and publicizing that policy) and trying to fight review inflation in other ways — for example, by giving the annual Delete Key Awards (announced every year on March 15) to the authors of the year’s worst writing in books. In many ways, this makes it much harder to do the site, because I can’t review books that I can’t afford to buy and can’t get from a library. But the site has grown much faster than I expected. One reason may be that many readers share the kind of suspicions posted on SFSignal. Thanks for bringing all those five-star reviews to people’s attention.

  85. Thanks for the input, Janice. And in the interest of full disclosure, know that SF Signal receives review copies of books, too. We publish that fact, and the books received, on our Books Received page which is easily accessible from the top-left widget on our home page.

    For what it’s worth, I think self-respect is too high a price to pay for selling review copies and inflating reviews. Our review copies are either boxed for the eventual dream library (hello…biblioholic here :)) or donated to libraries and trustworthy friends. Profiting beyond the books’ intended purpose is just wrong.

    But now we’re getting off-topic. Commence with the Klausner-bashing! ;-)

  86. John, I disagree. Klausner is certainly the most egregious example, but there’s a crowd of “reviewers” like her (him? it? they?) on Amazon and everywhere else. The problem is not Klausner; the problem is the obvious large-scale shilling. Now, as far as this:

    > I think self-respect is too high a price to pay for

    > selling review copies and inflating reviews

    please check out our friend John Matlock “Gunny” (http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A1M8PP7MLHNBQB).

    He’s been selling his books under the name “newbooksinprint” (http://www.amazon.com/shops/newbooksinprint).

    Reviewer W. Boudville (http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/AG35NEEFCMQVR/) reads half a dozen books a day, and wouldn’t you know it, mostly likes them! If we are to assume that one must read the books one reviews, today he’s read six books with the total count of 2337 pages! If that’s not enough, consider this: most of these books are technical, engineering, and scientific: that is, not the easiest ever reading material.

    Reviewer Robert Morris (http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A26JGAM6GZMM4V/) reads on average a book or two a day. All his reviews appear to be five-star ones. He’s read about fifteen hundred books and never saw a bad one! A book or two a day!

    Klausner is not alone.

  87. I have been reading with interest your views on HK, and some of them, (or most) may be true. But put yourselves into the same position as the author’s who have sent their book to be reviewed by HK. At least the reviews are positive, and maybe this is why so many writers contact her. Most people, (if they are honest) would rather have a five star review from ANYONE, never mind HK, than have a one star abusive review from someone that perhaps for personal reason’s, is out to crucify them and has the ability to do so by simply buying one of their books.

  88. G, how about just honest reviews from people who actually read the book? And perhaps — oh, what a thought! — even bought it themselves with the express purpose or *reading it* (rather than reviewing on author’s request).

  89. Wow, that guy should just change his name to Cutten Paster. Seriously, maybe Amazon should spend less time giving Harriet exclusive posting rights and police their reviewers more. I’m just sayin’…

  90. Amazon obviously offers a tacit approval to all these shenanigans. Probably (one has to guess) because it helps sell books, or at least, they hope it will. I mean, how hard would it be to check if a reviewer posts too many reviews daily, like 20/30/90 a day? A computer could do it… and yet, it’s not done. Amazon is full of it.

  91. And, btw, about Cutten Paster (Mark-O): in addition to puffing books from one publisher (less than a solid one, unfortunately) and copy/pasting the same BS blurb to all his ‘reviews’, it turns out he sells all these books in the ‘used’ section. Just go to any of the books he’s reviewed (except the last one), click on the ‘used and new’ link, and look for seller ‘ ship-now-books'; then visit Mark-O’s profile and see what his nickname is). :-)

  92. I think I finally got how HK is able to write all those reviews.

    In her own words from her Amazon profile:

    I am a speed reader( a gift I was born with) and read two books a day.

    So that is the secret. Its not only that she was born with the ability to read, but was born with the ability to speed read, a skill many never attain in their life. I just can imagine her parents putting in her crib, instead of a nice rattle, a stack of paperbacks she read and obviously loved by the sound of her incessant gooing. (Hey you find a better way to stop a baby crying.)

    Now she is just catching up. Perhaps she just recently learned to write.

  93. She reads two books a day, but reviews sixty. Her profile needs to be updated, it seems, to claim that she was born with the gift of reading sixty books a day. Oh wait, no! She once posted ninety-six reviews in one day.

  94. This calls into question the very notion of ‘reading’. One can literally look at the words, but is that reading? Shouldn’t there be some threshold of original thought and analysis on the part of the reader?

    Here’s how I think she does it. She reads the blurbs on the book. She reads approximately 5-15 pages chosen somewhat randomly from the book(the first few, a couple in the middle, a little towards the end). Then she writes a formulaic ‘review’ which includes a few details beyond the blurbs, details culled from the limited sampling to show that she ‘read’ the book. So, in essence, she’s skimming thousands of books. What is the value of doing this? A cottage industry perfectly suited to the content overload and instant gratification that defines much of popular culture.

  95. Harriet’s reviews look like they’re either re-wordings of book jackets or of whatever the publisher puts out when they release a book. Since darned near every review is 5 stars, with a token 4 star review thrown in, it’s just worthless. If you love everything you read, Harriet, your standards are as high as Britney Spears’ taste in men.

  96. I’m also on the anti-HK bandwagon. She’s recently ‘reviewed’ and posted major spoilers for not one, not two, but FIVE books I wanted to read. It pissed me off so much that I sent a full-on complaint to Amazon yesterday. Just a few minutes ago I received a reply from a Mr. Amir, who I’m sure is a nice enough gentleman in some ginormous call center in New Delhi, but who I’m also sure couldn’t care less about my complaint. Mr. Amir asked me for more specific information, which I provided in great detail.

    We’ll see if I get any response. Somehow I doubt I will.

    What would make me happy is if Amazon had a feature, as in many discussion forums, where you could set a user/reviewer on your ‘ignore’ list, thereby making invisible to you everything that person posts. Bam. Problem solved, for me anyway.

  97. Update: Amazon took down two offending Klausner reviews that I’d pointed out. When I asked what disciplinary action has been taken, since it’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last time she’s spoiled a book for somebody, Amazon said it’s not their policy to take disciplinary action in cases like this.

    I then asked why Amazon allows reviewers to blatantly flaunt their POSTED RULES of reviewing. I have yet to receive an answer.

  98. Well, actually she doesn’t have to read the back of covers or troll through reviews. She’s an acquisitions person for a bookstore. That means she gets sent press packets, copies of early reviews like Kirkus, and can call up a publisher and get any information she wants. It also means that she does read a fair number of books, or skims them, for her day job, so it’s probably easy to do some reviews. But it is also easy for her to just make them up by copying material in the catalogs and publicity sheets and email notifications she gets from publishers. Her reviews may go up right away on Amazon because she is a bookseller. This also may explain why upset authors don’t get much sympathy and are afraid of her– her power isn’t her reviews, which are never negative, but her position as the one who decides what books are in a store, and the ability to build bad buzz, if she so chose, in the bookselling community, which is a small one.

  99. I stumbled over this thread after having the misfortune to find Klausner’s scam on Amazon today. Disgusting woman. Love the thread, however. :-@

    I’ve also been been rather irritated by Midwest Book Review. Their Amazon profile shows they have reviewed nearly 35,000 books, and all of them are 5 star reviews as far as I can see.

    While they at least don’t pretend to be one person, it seems Gale Research have worked out some deal MBR with to use their reviews Gale’s products. (6)

  100. Check out BookCrossing.com–Harriet’s one of the top people with most books registered. (I am, too, but I haven’t read most of what I register.) She posts reviews at BookCrossing, too, and her member profile is several paragraphs long. I especially like her husband’s suggested epitaph for her: Give me literature or give me death.

  101. She’s married? I feel bad for the poor guy, when would he get any attention when she’s, literally, reading 24×7!! John, didn’t you do the math on that where she would have to read 24×7 in order to put out that many reviews?

  102. I never paid attention to the reviewer ranks until. Something that I looked at out of sheer boredom has provided me with some entertainment. I think HK is a fraud. I think she just recopies dust jackets and skims a few pages of the book. Nothing she says is helpful. I found the comments here–which I read, all of them–to be amusing. I agree with 99% of the comments here.

  103. You guys are so funny. Is Harriet a computer or what? It’s truly not humanly possible to read so many books and write so many reviews. As of today, January 8, 2007 she has posted 15,512 reviews. Unbelievable!

  104. My.Name.Is.H.K-9000.B. [stop]

    I.Am.Most.Definitely.Not.A.Computer. [stop]

    I.Am.An.Ancient.Teletype.Machine.Stuck.In.An.Infinite.Loop. [stop]

    I.Can.Turn.Any.Snoozer.Into.The.Great.American.Novel. [stop]

    I.Have.Spoken. [stop]

    Stop.Posting.Comments.Against.Me. [stop]

    Stop.It. [stop]

    Stop. [stop]

    My.Name.Is.H.K-9000.B. [stop]

    I.Am.Most.Definitely.Not.A.Computer. [stop]

    I.Am.An.Ancient.Teletype.Machine.Stuck.In.An.Infinite.Loop. [stop]

    I.Can.Turn.Any.Snoozer.Into.The.Great.American.Novel. [stop]

    I.Have.Spoken. [stop]

    Stop.Posting.Comments.Against.Me. [stop]

    Stop.It. [stop]

    Stop. [stop]

    My.Name.Is.H.K-9000.B. [stop]

    I.Am.Most.Definitely.Not.A.Computer. [stop]

    I.Am.An.Ancient.Teletype.Machine.Stuck.In.An.Infinite.Loop. [stop]

    —- Transmission Truncated —

  105. So, to summarize:

    1) Everyone who’s done the math has concluded, correctly, that Klausner can’t possibly have read as many books as she reviews.

    2) Authors and fellow reviewers have repeatedly pointed out errors in her reviews, and most agree the “reviews” are just reworked dust jacket summaries.

    3) Klausner’s still at it.

    I think the interesting thing here is that Klausner has taken lying to an international level. Everyone with half a brain knows Klausner is a liar. The readers know it, the authors know it and Amazon knows it. It’s like that guy in the original Zelda says, “It’s a secret to everybody.”

    So it makes me wonder why, since this has become such a joke, Amazon not only allows her to continue lying daily to a huge audience, but actually grants her special access and privileges. At some point, doesn’t the obviousness of a fraud surpass the desire for positive book reviews?

  106. Check out Barbara Vey’s blog at http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/880000288/post/460020646.html today.

    Someone commented “As an example, after I agreed to write Bayou Bad Boys a few years ago, one of the writers got ill and had to drop out. Unfortunately, the story description she’d sent in to Brava got on the back of the ARC under the replacement author’s name. (Fortunately it was changed before the actual book was published!) But HK reviewed all three novellas described. Even one that didn’t exist. Because it had never been written!!”

    And another wrote “Harriet Klausner actually plagiarised her review of my book from several sources, even so far as to repeating the wrong facts of a another reviewer (the ACTUAL reviewer printed a correction).”

  107. If anyone is really interested in Sinking Harriet Klausner and the many other fraudulent posters, here is the way to do it.

    Add Harriet Klausners RSS feed to her book reviews, so whenever she posts a new review you know about it.

    Write your own review using information from Klausners, but add negative comments about the whole ordeal, I.E. where Harriet writes “…thus readers obtain a sweet satirical glimpse of the elite through life in the Badenweiler health resort; pampering being the cure of all ills. Lighthearted yet insightful, fans will appreciate Gene Wilder’s amusing yet deep THE WOMAN WHO WOULDN’T. ” You write “therefore avid fans get an overwritten satire of the historically inaccurate Badenweiler health resort.. blah blah.. fans of Gene Wilder will do well to skip this one, spend the money by going to a resort yourself..”

    Then give the book 1 star.

    When everything that Harriet reviews starts getting one 4 or 5 star review and forty-five 1 star reviews from a small-but-nimble grass-roots organization of blog and amazon.com readers, no one in their right mind will ask her to review their book.

  108. You seem to suggest that books be knocked down just because Harriet Klausner reviewed them and gave them five stars. That would be unfair to the authors, don’t you think? Two wrongs don’t do one right.

  109. Some people seem to be assuming that writers are personally requesting reviews from Harriet Klausner. I can’t see why they would be thinking this. From the sound of it, her reviews are cribbed straight from Kirkus reviews and the back of dust jackets – there’s no reason to think that any of the writers are involved in any way.

  110. Would you vultures PLEASE leave Harriet alone? Can’t you see that she’s just a frail old woman who just wants to make the world a happier place no matter what kind of crap people put out as a writer?

    Leave Harriet alone!! It doesn’t matter that she never read of the books that she supposedly reviews or if she just copy the material from somewhere else. Would you deny her her passion of giving everything 5 stars??

    Please leave Harriet alone!

  111. I think it’s fairly obvious HK has some kind of OCD… who else would spend this much time writing the reviews alone? I read an interview with her talking about being a “collector” of books. Which I would say I am too, but I would not let half of the books she reviews in my house! She’s obviously doing this for the books. She’s a sick old lady, who has too many books rather than cats.

  112. A frail old woman? 50 bucks says “she’s” some random 15 year old guy with no life and who somehow finds it amusing to add positive background noise to reviews on amazon. I’d like to see the times between the posting of each review. Chances are he/she just goes online and pops over to some titles he/she doesn’t recognise and writes something good about them.

    Anyway, I have developed a way of discrediting her once and for all:

    1. I am going to create book title and author from scratch, and verify that neither this book nor its author actually exist.

    2. I will email the name and author of this bogus bok to HK and ask for a review.

    3. Before long, the 5 star rating will come in. I will then reveal to her that she has reviewed a non-existent book and that my prank is soon to be posted online.

    Done!

  113. Back in the dark ages of the Internet (1997) I reviewed books for a now defunct website called “Under the Covers Book Reviews” Reviewers sometimes got ARCS or books from the publishers but since this was early in the days on the net, we mostly just reviewed books we bought ourselves. Another reviewer for that site was Harriet Klausner – and most of us hated her because no matter how fast we read a book, she’d always already have a damn review up in her classic “two paragraphs of summary, one paragraph of vague praise highly suitable for putting on a book cover” Plus, she’d whore those same crap reviews to any and every book site on the net.

    10 years I’ve held a grudge against her and long for the day when it comes out she’s a total fake :)

  114. Apologies on the double post; I only just realised what I’m about to put in here. Anyway, I happened to acquire a book “cybernetica”- not the best book in the world, but still- it has part of a review of hers on the back. The entire review can be read here: http://www.bookreview.com/$spindb.query.listreview2.booknew.14287

    Not only is this stereotypical Klausner material, but the information in it is completely, utterly wrong! It has no government-industrial-media complex- in fact, the government and corporations are at war throughout the entire book! It is, however, exactly what you would think was going down were you to read the book’s blurb, and nothing else. Hmmmm…

  115. I just read her review on Barnes&Noble.com, for my latest Victorian Romance, released two days ago, and she has the plot all wrong. No way could she have read the book. I appreciate the five stars, but…

  116. Harriet Klausner has fascinated me for a while now, and not because she miraculously “reads” all these books she reviews. I don’t know if any of you have noticed (and I haven’t read all of the comments here), but she tends to write reviews of Harlequin novels, and the language she uses is quite funny… for a woman in her fifties. I do believe tat Harriet is real, but that se has multiple people posting under her name. A sweat shop, if you will…

    I get the feeling that she writes blurbs for book covers on the side.

  117. This has to be the most fascinating thing I have ever stubled across on the Web.  As far as I am concerned Harriet is a marvel.  She hasn’t reviewed my book yet, but from what I have read here, she perhaps has no need to, except perhaps the sections that highlight the power of unpredictability.

    I am so intrigued, that I’m going to send her a copy of ‘Secret Habits of Successful Bastards – the Self-Help Book for People who are Too Nice’ and we’ll see what she comes up with.  Maybe she will break her four- or five-star habit and make me even more infamous?

    I’ll be looking for direct references to what I wrote on the front and back cover and on http://www.successful-bastards.com of course ;-)

     

     

     

  118. A bit of math of my own:

    While she only claims she can read 2, Harriet can apparently read 5.56 books per day (that’s her daily average number of reviews on amazon). I will assume she gets 8 hours of sleep every night. Further, we assume she is cosntantly reading and does nothing else whatsoever during her waking life. She doesn’t eat, drink, visit the bathroom, work, move to pick up the next book, go to the shop to buy the damn things, nothing.

    Doing nothing other than reading, it would take Harriet exactly 2.88 hours to read a book. If we assume that each book is 360 pages long. In that case she can read at a constant rate of 1 page every 29 seconds.

    What an amazing woman! She either doesn’t sleep, or she can consistently speed read at a rate even faster than this in order to fit in the time needed to eat, write reviews, go to amazon and post them. And she does this every day. Wow.

    It’s hardly a surprise that she has a few errors in her reviews. I mean, at that rate you’re bound to miss something.

    Now we just gotta remove her…

  119. Is Harriet a computer program.

    This would explain errors, grammatical style, being ‘born’ with speed-reading abilities and an algorithm which allows only 4 or 5 stars

    Jack Blurb

  120. The Computer Program Hypothesis would also explain some other riddles

    If Harriet is able to read two books idea why does she publish much more than this in a day? 

    If reading means text to speech then she can only a read a few books (aloud) a day. If reading means processing and reviewing thats a different matter.

    How does Harriet review books before they’re published?

    They’re in electronic format. That’s the only means she has at the moment to process them. Why bother with the hardware needed to physically read a book when it can be e-mailed or downloaded in a second and processed within minutes? hours?

    Why is there no interview with Harriet?

    She’s too busy? But not too busy to read this website! Where’s the person behind the scenes, the scandal, the book deals, the author deals, the press conferences

    Would Harriet pass the Turing Test?

    Which programs have won the Turing Test. Could Harriet be one of them.

    How can we tell if Harriet is a computer without speaking to her or seeing her in person?

    Very easily – you have to analyse the syntax. Look at the reviews and identify any peculiarities of the speech. Look at any peculiarities of the errors. Make predictions. Make sure any algorithms aren’t changed in reponse to the analysis.

     

  121. Fortunately this isn’t true; it’s nothing as romantic and spectacular. Harriet Klausner is nothing more than an old fraud who made a profession out of deceiving potential readers, that’s all. She should be arrested and launched to the moon, along with Jeff Bezos who allows this to go on because of greed and fear that if he does honest business he’ll make less money. He’s worse than Klausner.

  122.  

    Initial Analysis: 2 examined reviews contain a series of factual statements. The statements are separated either with a full stop or a semicolon. The majority of the review consists of these statements. A computer program that read through the book, could summarise it into a long list of statements, some of which would be incorrect. The ‘author’ of the final review could then select the best statements that go in the final review.

    The last section of the review has an entirely different flavour – here are some excerpts from consecutive reviews

    ‘the story line is fast paced’ ‘and never slows down’
    ‘is a great mysery writer’
    ‘…is a winner’
    ‘has written a powerful tale’
    ‘provides a wonderful refreshing tale’
    ‘entertaining contemporary romance’
    ‘fans of the ….will enjoy their latest escapades’
    ‘the story line as always is well written’
    ‘young adult readers will enjoy her efforts’
    ‘is at her best’
    ‘engaging drama’
    ‘a great …romantic thriller’
    ‘readers will toast with thirty year old cognac this tremendous historical …saga’
    ‘superb gothic victorian romantic suspense’

    All are positive, but this part of the review is more flowing than the first part – with a more ‘human touch’.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  123. YOU fie on ME and yet YOU do not keep employed seventy-five illegal immigrant boys who WORK in my BASEMENT for precious WATER and FOOD writing the reviews for me. If I stop THEY DIE. Shame on you.

  124. Thank you for responding to my post Harriet Klausner.

    The response was short at three sentences. A book reviewer composes more articles than humanly possible. Critics on the internet begin to suspect; the author is challenged online; Krausner responds revealing her secret slave labour force working in abominable circumstances. 

    Klausner’s response was a twisting searing drama that thoroughly engages the reader. Fans of Klausner will celebrate the response with a bottle of 30 year old cognac

  125. I don’t think she is a program; most of her reviews, however crap, are far too specific to the book. The two paragraphs plot summary that accompanies her reviews couldn’t be generated automatically. And she has been contacted by the media in the past, at least according to this link:

     

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110006483

     

    What’s more likely is that she simply reviews books based on their blurbs (that takes something in the order of 30 seconds per book) and maybe other reviews and summaries around. That would explain the high number of reviews and how books are reviewed prior to publishing.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if there are multiple people involved. The book industry likes putting Harriet-style reviews on the back of covers. It’s been said that HK exists as a means of self promotion for publishers. Whether or not that’s true, I would not at all be described if there’s about 5 or 6 people out there collecting info on a book and writing crappy reviews, with one of them in charge of sticking them up there. Either that or it’s some little prankster with nothing better to do with his life.

    What we can be sure about is that she sure as hell aint reading ‘em.

    And, for anyone who’s interested, you can find every single HK review to date here:

    http://harrietklausner.wwwi.com/

    This site is also great as it shows just how many errors there are in her reviews. I popped over to about five or six reviews of books I’d read and I could see mistakes popping up all over the place. My favourite was a reference to a murder in which “six died”- the actual figure is actually 960.

    I think now I should mention that this thread has now lasted just about 5 years. I am glad.

  126. @Jimbob:

    No, not really. I mean, it might be considered to be fraud, but she’s not making money off it, she’s not hurting any one, so even if HK was illegal, I seriously doubt anyone’s going to be bothered to shut her down.

  127. How can you know she’s not making money off of it? I’m sure she’s getting paid, I can’t imagine anyone would do so much work otherwise. Now of course I can’t establish whether she does or doesn’t get paid. But an investigator can… And I’m sure she’s not the only person involved in fake reviewing, and since it’s rather widespread, there must be some money in it, so it would be worthwhile to bother to shut her down, or maybe not that much shut her down as find out what actually goes on and shut them ALL down.

  128. Admittedly, I can’t be sure that she doesn’t get paid for it. I don’t think Amazon pays for people to review their products. If she is getting paid for this, it would be from some other site. She is on a couple of others as well, so maybe there… I would think by now, however, that anyone who actually paid people to review stuff for them or sent out free books would probably put two and two together before too long (or two, two and google, as I call it). I am not a detective, but I would suspect that if you checked around, you would not find that many sites that pay you to review would have HK material on them.

    The other thing is we have to consider how many people involved in fake reviewing are simply acne-ridden teenagers with no social life who think it’s funny to whack fake material up there to annoy people. You will find plenty of those, I’m sorry to say. (I often wonder if HK is one of those…)

    Technically speaking, Amazon should be able to close her account, as I’m pretty damn sure she’s violating some kind of site policy. I live in hope…

  129. I make it a point of never buying books HK reviews.  For me, seeing her name next to a book is the kiss of death, no matter how much I wanted to read it beforehand.  I really wish Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et al would just dump her.  It doesn’t even matter to me whether she’s an actual person, a paid shill for the publishers, a group of reviewers, et cetera.  Harriet Klausner needs to be relegated to the dustbin of history.

  130. I am HK’s brother. Although we have been out of touch for several years, I can attest to the fact that she is the fastest reader I have ever known. I have seen her polish off 4 to 5 books a day and have no reason to doubt that her abilities have merit. To all you bloggers out there you have to know and live with the person to really know what she is capable of.

    Larry 

  131. C’mon Larry, most likely the only thing Harriet can polish is large amount of food in one sitting. No one can read several books a day, and btw, just look at what she writes, doesn’t it confirm that she has no idea what the books are about and that she has no opinion on them?

  132. I can personally attest that Harriet Klausner is real, although I have no way of knowing whether or not she has assistants. I e-mailed her and asked if she would like to review my novel (which is self-published, although I have had other novels published by major publishers).  She replied that she would, so I sent it to her. It is not a widely known book — at the time she reviewed it, few copies existed, and no plot details were posted anywhere.  She mentioned things in the review that she could  have had no way of knowing if she had not read at least half of it (and to have said anything about later parts of it would have been a spoiler). She certainly wasn’t paid to read it!

    As for all her reviews being positive, I’ve read that she’s said she does not review a book, or even finish it, unless she enjoys it.  Many sites (though not Amazon) have a policy of not reviewing books unless they like them — there is now such a backlog of books that they must be selective, so why waste time and space on books not worth reading?  One may or may not approve of that policy, but Klauser shouldn’t be singled out for choosing to follow it.

  133. Sylvia, don’t be an idiot. This woman reviews five to seven books a day on average (this means that sometimes it’s much more than that). No one can read that many books in such a short time, and now you say she reads even more than that, but doesn’t like, and therefore review, the rest. So how many is it now? 20 books a day, 100 books a day? You know, the public isn’t all that stupid as you must be thinking it is…

    So, OK, she reviewed your book, so don’t feel so obligated to praise her all around now. She’s an annoying, brazen fraud. A career fraud.

  134. Not that hard for her to actually review 1 book…whilst Klaunsers 2 and 3 are out there hurling more junk onto Amazon.

  135. I’ve worked with Harriet before through Affaire de Coeur back in 1998/1999. She is real.

    I will tell you flat out as a past reviewer, it’s not uncommon to receive a box of galleys or advance review copies of books that are months due to the printing house. If you have the time and the ability (with resources to support your life while you do this full time) it is possible to read many books during the day. If you are genuinely interested in the content of a book it makes time go by so much quicker. Personally, if I get sucked in, I can read a 400-page book in 4 hours, maybe less.

  136. This is such a hoot. I found this thread through a link at Barnes&Noble, where Harriet posts her reviews ad nauseum. What is really irritating is that now that B&N has a new system, with avatars next to reviews, somehow ol’ Harriet’s review (and avatar) is now at the TOP of every page of reviews, no matter how long ago she posted the thing. I complained, and the admins on the boards are looking into it. It had never occurred to me until I read your posts that she might be a “front” for a large group of publisher-friendly reviewers. Sort of like Betty Crocker’s persona is attached to millions of cake mix boxes. LOL

  137. This is hilarious. I found this by googling “Harriet Klausner” after noticing her 15,000+ book reviews. I’ve made it my personal mission to screw up her Helpful Vote percentage. I’m going to click “No” on all of her posts on Amazon.com in hopes that I can maybe discourage her from reviewing anything, or just ruin her credibility.

     

    Join me?

  138. I will gladly join in ANYTHING that gets HK evicted from Amazon. I HATE her fake 4 and 5 star reviews of everything. This post is too funny!

  139. Listen to me be-otches!

    I’m as real as your mamas’ pimps.

    Stop talkin’ smack about me, or I might have to get busy with a tire-iron up in here.

    I got 147 books to read and review today, so stop wating my time.

    -Love

    Harriet

  140. When I ran my own review site Rebeccasreads.com (1999-2006), a really good month was when I posted 10-15 thoughtful reviews (slightly altered from the ones on my site) a month to Amazon. I focused on POD lesser or entirely unknown authors & really did read their books. I, too, decided not to trash a work & if I couldn’t write a 3-5 star review, then I wouldn’t. If I had contact with the author I’d write to ‘em why: usually because they weren’t ready for prime time, as in unedited. 

    Used to wonder how HK could read & review so many bestsellers so frequently. During Amazon’s early years, I was chuffed to be one of the top reviewers until, one day, all my reviews vanished. After an avalanche corresponce w/Amazon’s staff, I discovered another reviewer with the same name was working there & had started her own site. Coincidence?

    Bland like unflavored tofu, is how I’ve thought of HK’s reviews: generic. & she doesn’t answer her emails on her site. As far as I’m concerned HK’s been a publicity device all these years, perhaps because Internet bookstores were worried they wouldn’t get any reviews.

    Now I write my own books, & edit & publish other authors. I still read a lot & post reviews when the stories move me.

     

  141. Harriet Klausner gives three stars to Stephanie Laurens: The Taste of Innocence on Amazon.com. I’m in shock. ;)

  142. This is awesome.  I’ve been irritated with Klausner for years but never thought to google her before.

    One of the reasons I loathe Klausner is that she’s giving a bad name to fast readers.  I’m a reasonably fast reader myself; on weekends, when I don’t have to be doing anything else, I typically read between three and five books a day, depending on length and subject matter.  I’m not actually trying to read quickly; that’s just the speed at which I read.  I don’t skim, unless I’m completely losing interest in the book.  Klausner gives people the impression that fast readers aren’t really reading, and plenty of us are.

    I believe her when she says she can read quickly, but I still think she’s a fraud.  

  143. Stumbled upon this so long after I first noticed the anti-HK “war”. The person / group posting under the HK name all over the place goes on – and of course amazon doesn’t do anything.

    Looking at books I’m interested in and reading reviews of them, I noticed that some of the more “to the point” reviews are posted by people with a “verified amazon purchase”.

    Does HK ever “verify” a purchase? Does she only review ARCs or free copies?! I didn’t see any verified purchase from her, for any of the reviewed books. If she’s been doing this for years, all those books must amount to a giant library. That’s a fortune in books… Is amazon really that oblivious to something so visibly a scam?…

    I don’t much care if they decide to do something about the HK persona or allow it to go on, but her so-called “reviews” made me only read the 1-starred ones, just to see what made people unhappy with the book, and skip all the enthusiastic ones. I don’t like this as a solution, but…

  144. A few years back, HK was listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 15 “web generation’s movers and shakers”. Sad, isn’t it…

  145. Bob did an interesting back-of-the-napkin calculation of how many books she can possibly read in a day if she did nothing else. However he neglected to include the time it actually takes to navigate to the books’ pages to post her reviews and the time required to write the 6-8 “reviews” a day that she posts. That would certainly cut into her “reading” time, no matter how efficient she is.

    The worst part about it is that she never gives less than 3 stars to any book that I have found. Usually it’s either 4 or 5 stars. Why bother to rate it at all? Is it like what Little League has turned into? No losers anymore – everyone gets a trophy! Reviews that constantly give high marks are useless since you certainly can’t rely on them for objectivity. If she is real, hope she stops reviewing for everyone’s sake.

  146. I’m a newb to Amazon Kindle and just discovered the HK phenomena.

    Some years ago I did a brief stint as a book reviewer for a niche publishing magazine. The main purpose of any magazine is to sell advertising space, so reviewers couldn’t piss off the publishers with a bad review. I’d get 20 books a week to review (mostly preview editions). I asked my editor how I could manage to do that many reviews in such a short time. He told me to read the front and back blurbs, the table of contents, the first and last chapter, and then fan through the book and pick a couple of random pages.

    Voila! I could now produce an “intelligent” review, on topics about which I knew nothing, in only 10 minutes.

  147. Do you people have lives why do you go around ranting and raving about someone who you don’t even know, so what if she says she can read like that, how does it effect your lives

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