Person of the Year Includes…Harriet Klausner

[via Locus Online] Time magazine, as part of their Person of the Year cover story, profiles #1 Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner:

At 54, Klausner, a former librarian from Georgia, has posted more book reviews on Amazon.com than any other user–12,896, as of this writing, almost twice as many as her nearest competitor. That’s a book a day for 35 years.

Klausner isn’t paid to do this. She’s just, as she puts it, “a freaky kind of speed-reader.” In elementary school, her teacher was shocked when Klausner handed in a 31?2-hour reading-comprehension test in less than an hour. Now she goes through four to six books a day. “It’s incomprehensible to me that most people read only one book a week,” she says. “I don’t understand how anyone can read that slow.”

Un-be-lievable! Don’t get me started.

7 thoughts on “Person of the Year Includes…Harriet Klausner”

  1. Well, so much for “fact checking” by the MSM outlets like Time! After all, if we can turn up multiple (different) pictures of the alleged reviewer and gawk in wonder at her reviewing speed and “style”…

  2. Getting reviewed by Harriet Klausner is nonetheless something that new writers envy: it is regarded as a mark of distinction.

    Now, having said that, I myself caught her once being derelict in her duties. I wrote a book that was booksplit (published in two volumes) but the publisher put on the dust jacket of the first book a description events from the second half, including a surprise twist not seen in the first book. So the blurb on the dustjacket of the first book contained a description of things that simply did not happen in that book.

    Mrs. Klausner’s review of my first book referenced those same things. In other words, it was a review of the dusk jacket, not a review of the book itself. Only someone who HAD NOT read the book would have been fooled.

    Gee, I could read a dust jacket a day too. That is not as impressive as reading the whole book.

    I wrote to her. She seems nice.

  3. “Getting reviewed by Harriet Klausner is nonetheless something that new writers envy: it is regarded as a mark of distinction.”

    I am hoping that you were being slightly sarcastic, given your later comments. Most of her reviews are pretty much what you discovered with the dust jacket incident: summaries of the plot, not an in-depth look at the book. I think that if I were a first-time writer, I’d rather have a nice review looking at my book in-depth, in a major media outlet than the shallow look that she does multiple times daily.

    Gee, I was hoping not to get started on HK like one SF Signal-er!

    :D

  4. In reviewing Veniss Underground, Harriet K. referred to a rape. There is no rape, or anything like rape in the story! Very very odd!

    JeffV

  5. As AJ pointed out in our original post, the Time article quotes from one SF Signal commenter:

    “Harriet, please get a life,” someone begged her on a message board, “and leave us poor Amazon customers alone.”

  6. Oh why oh why can’t I comment on the Time site? Did these people do any fact checking at all, other than talk to her? How about asking her a comprehension question on any of the dozen books she read that week?

    And how about the mistakes? I suppose John C. Wright’s issue could be the result of a review copy being sent out in full, not split. But how could she review a Birmingham novel with a character named after her in it and not even mention it?

    Is it because this is just a fun ‘human interest’ story and she’s a kindly old woman that journalist give her a pass? Sure she looks great in front of those books – but did she honestly read any of them?

    And how about mentioning that her integrity is terrible – that she only gives books 4 and 5 stars – that no book she has ever read in the last several years has been bad. What is her reviewing criteria one might ask?

    Here is an idea John – find out a way to contact her and interview her. Be nice, civil, and see if we can find out simple things, like how good her comprehension is, why all books are good, and what would cause her to give a book 2 or 1 star!

  7. Wow, it’s almost like SF Signal has more journalistic integrity than Time Magazine! :D

    For what it’s worth, the author of the Klausner piece, Lev Grossman, had a not-too-nice brush with the blogosphere a couple of months ago.

    I’m not particularly interested in interviewing her. I’m not sure what we’d learn, exactly. FYI: In one interview Klausner gave, she mentioned something about not reviewing the books she does not like. That answers the question of why we don’t see 1- and 2-star reviews. It also means she “reads” even more books than what she “reviews”.

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