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the mysterious Harriet Klausner

Do you ever buy books through I do. You can find just about anything on Amazon. New books. Used books. Book reviews posted by customers.

I check out the customer reviews on a regular basis. Amazon ranks their reviewers by the number of reviews that they post and the number of votes that other customers cast on behalf of reviewers. Was this review helpful? If it was then customers can say so. It’s all so very democratic, I think?

The top reviewers on Amazon occupy their own little pantheon within the system. You can click on the list of the top reviewers and find out what it takes to scramble to the very top. Apparently, it takes a lot.

The top reviewer on Amazon is someone named Harriet Klausner. She has a little blurb posted where she describes herself as a “speed reader.” I should say. Harriet has reviewed 13, 531 books as of today. Wow, how does she do it?

According to Harriet, she can read 2 books a day. That would be 14 books a week. The #2 reviewer on Amazon has reviewed 6,666 books. Reviewers #3 through #7 have all reviewed over 3000 books each.

There seems to be quite a disparity between Harriet Klausner and the rest of the field. She has read and reviewed more than twice the number of books as the person who is next on the list. How is that possible?

Apparently, there are a growing number of Amazonians who are sceptical about Harriet’s numbers. If you read the comments that are being left with her reviews it would seem that a rebellion is underway. Some folks don’t give much credence to the validity of her massive reading.

I scrolled through her reviews to get some sense of what she has done. So far this year she had reviewed 567 books. That’s in 90 days. So she is averaging 6 books per day, 7 days a week.

Your average book is about 300 pages. Harriet is reading 1800 pages a day AND reviewing all those books. Truly amazing. How does she do it?

I consider myself to be a fairly fast reader. I can read a book a day. I average about a page a minute. Let’s assume that Harriet can read 3 times faster than I can. It would take her 10 hours to read those 6 books if she reads that fast. That doesn’t include all the time she must spend writing reviews, right?

Harriet, do you do anything besides read? Eat? Sleep? Go out of the house? TIME Magazine shed some light on how she does it in an interview last December.

So, she reads all those books, she must be one heck of a reviewer, right? Well, if you read her reviews you will be amazed. They are not that impressive. Most incredibly, she likes almost every book she reads. They all get 4 and 5 star ratings!

Gee whiz, if I was reading 6 books a day I would hate at least half of them. It’s human nature. How could she like them ALL?

Which begs the question, is Harriet really reading all those books? Is Harriet really reviewing all those books? I cannot fathom how that could be possible.

I have the highest respect for and I have to think that they might wish to consider doing a little bit of checking here. Who is Harriet Klausner? How does she read and review 6 books a day? If she really doesn’t read them then how can she review them?

And, if Harriet is not actually doing what she claims she does, why is Amazon allowing her to be Numero Uno?

It must be discouraging for other reviewers to try to catch up with Harriet. It can’t be done. And, I have to think, reading 6 books a day can’t be done either.

NOTE I just checked Harriet’s reviews on Amazon. She has already posted 23 reviews today. It’s Friday, March 30 and it isn’t even 10 o’clock in the morning yet. 23 reviews! Mind boggling. I take off my hat to the mysterious Harriet Klausner.

Permalink | Comments (40) | Categories: in the Amazone



April 6, 2007 7:18 PM | Link to this

Barbara, this book’s page no longer contains a review by HK. Instead, it has a five-star (of course!) review by one BulaBula who’s never left another review. The review reads quite like your usual HK review (i.e. a plot outline gathered up from the dust cover).

By Barbara Delaney

April 5, 2007 4:38 PM | Link to this

Okay, it’s the beginning of a holiday weekend and Harriet dumps sixty-eight reviews on Amazon. I’m sure she is hoping her detractors will be busy dyeing eggs, putting that disgusting glaze on hams, and other seasonal activities. So in honor of the holiday I thought we could have our own hunt. If you email me the correct number of times Harriet Klausner has used the word zany in her sixty-eight reviews posted today I will send you a solid chocolate rabbit from Graeter’s. That is a wonderful candy and ice cream store here in Cincinnati. Happy Easter!

By Barbara Delaney

April 5, 2007 3:09 PM | Link to this

Harriet Klausner has posted seventy reviews today. Including one in which she violated Amazon guidelines for decency. Her review of “One Big Damn Puzzler” by John Harding contains obscentities. When I tried to comment on that fact, without quoting the obscentities, I received a message from Amazon saying that no comments are being allowed on that review. Take a look at the review in question.

By Scott Stratton

April 5, 2007 3:02 PM | Link to this

I finally figured it out! Seriously, this is my theory: Harriet is a real person who is laughing at all of us when she takes the time to look at all these comments. She (or he) doesn’t do that very often because she is busy running her used-book store. I don’t know if it was her plan all along, but becoming a #1 reviewer, she was able to get boxes and boxes of free books, which she then resells at her bookstore, locally (or on ebay, or on Amazon under a psuedonym). She doesn’t care about any of this. She just posts positive reviews in the simplest, most efficient way possible for her to keep the books coming. Heck, she probably assigns the tasks to one of several minimum-wage workers at her store (badly written English is not reserved for ESL foriegn workers, but also many, many Americans who just don’t care). There you go. That’s my theory and I believe it. For now. Until more evidence comes in. Either way, it’s dishonest and annoying. I stick to my belief that we, as participants in the system get to fight for the culture we want; and I want honest reviews, honest critiques of reviews, and open, intellectual, fair-minded debate.

By Misfit

April 4, 2007 9:09 PM | Link to this

Check out this online store at Amazon from a Nevada seller: Click further on any of the books and find they are new from the publisher. How can one read and then review a book and then sell it as new? Now look at Gunny’s reviews: See a similarity? I for one contacted Amazon, and the return email says it is being investigated. Either the book(s) are being misrepresented as “new” or the reviews are misrepresented as the reviewer never read them. Either way, it is unethical to give 5 star ratings to books and then to sell them for profit.

By John Sollami

April 4, 2007 8:25 PM | Link to this

Vick, this isn’t getting ugly. It’s fantastic! JJJS has made a wonderful discovery! The number 6 Amazon reviewer is helping himself to some cash at the expense of the publishers he’s serving. He’s biting the hand that feeds him. And Kelly adding up six reviews that were out on Amazon two full weeks before the books were officially released to the public surely is proof positive that these reviewers are being handed advance copies by the publishers for the express purpose of promoting them. None of this is earth-shattering except for the blatant dishonesty of it all. Scott Stratton is completely right in wanting some integrity from Amazon and its participants. We, the reading public, ARE this site, and we should have the right to vote off the Amazon island those people who have proved themselves to be greedy, self-serving, dishonest frauds. Clearly the management of Amazon isn’t going to do a thing about this because they’re in the business of selling books and these reviewers are helping them do that, UNLESS we readers can convince Amazon that HK and her ilk are having the opposite effect on sales and a very negative effect on Amazon’s image. Vick, you have looked under a rock. Congratulations! Now some light is shining on what’s been crawling under it for quite some time.

By Steve Savage

April 4, 2007 6:33 PM | Link to this

Ms. Klausner. Your “In my own words,” states that you are a “speed reader,” “a gift [you] were born with.” Also you are credited by as having reviewed 13,570 books. You further state that you read “two books a day.” How, then, do you account for this irrefutable proof, published by this month’s Journal of Vision, that what you claim is an impossibility. If you are the exception to this scientific study, you are, indeed, a scientific marvel, in and of yourself. Please read the following: “When you read, your eyes act like spotlights on a stage. The construction of your eyes only allows them to focus on one small area on the page at a time, so the idea of speed reading is bunk, according to several studies published in the Journal of Vision this month. Although you might have the illusion that you see the whole page, you can actually only see small groups of letters at the point where your eyes are focused. Only eight or 10 letters fit in this tiny window, called the visual span. The rest of the letters are just a blur, said Gordon Legge, a vision researcher at the University of Minnesota. So how does anyone ever finish a book as long as “War and Peace?” Readers make a series of eye movements while scanning the page, Legge said. People typically make four eye movements per second, picking up about four or five words per second and 250 to 300 words per minute. That’s a typical estimate for normal reading speed, Legge said. Because of the constraints of the visual span, reading more than 300 words per minute is almost impossible.”


April 4, 2007 2:20 PM | Link to this

Vic Hugo, I think you’re mistaken to blame “us” (casual Amazon visitors). It is not “us” who vote her (and other similar review bots) up: there’s a lot of these “reviewers” on Amazon and they vote for one another.

By Scott Stratton

April 4, 2007 10:58 AM | Link to this

Hello all! I strated writing reviews for Amazon a few months ago, and have enjoyed watching my ranking go up slowly (from around 2,000,000 to 32,000). It’s like I’ve entered a whole new world that is mostly positive. I’ve had a couple reviews marked unhelpful by folks who won’t come clean as to why - I think they just didn’t like the book. But mostly it’s been a lively, fun, intellectual exercise and I’ve met some neat people in “amazonian cyberspace”. The Harriet issue, to me, cuts to the heart of an interesting issue: what right do participants have to demand standards and shape the culture of something like the Amazon review system? One commenter here suggested that those who are opposed to Harriet are all deluding themselves. We have no rights to even care about what she is doing. But I’m not so sure. Amazon invites us all to participate in this enterprise of reviewing books; they set up a ranking system which will naturally encourage competition. Why can’t we, as participants, engage in a discourse on the rights and wrongs, the ethics, of our activity. Though we don’t own the Amazon Review system, we participants keep it alive. We shape what it is. I think we do have the right to shape the culture we are participating in. And I, for one, think that demanding the culture be one of integrity, of honest and open reviewing and commenting, is a good thing. I say all this, because I think this issue is germane to much of the new Internet-dominated world we live in. It’s a fascinating issue and I am glad to have a chance to participate. Thanks, Mr. Mickunas for your article. What does everyone else think? My Amazon profile, by the way, is: Name is Scott Stratton. I’d love some feedback on my reviews - unlike Harriet, :-), I am always seeking to improve my skills.

By MIsfit

April 4, 2007 10:20 AM | Link to this

Egads, it’s true. I looked up the #6 reviewer, looked at the first four of his latest reviews. Go to the page for the book, click on the used and new buying options and there he was, selling them out of Nevada, “Seller: newbooksinprint Rating:96% positive over the past 12 months (336 ratings.) 888 lifetime ratings. Shipping: In Stock. Ships from NV, United States Expedited shipping available. See shipping rates. Comments: This is a brand new book, just received from the distributor. It has never been read, just opened to be sure that it is in good shape.”

By Kelly

April 4, 2007 12:01 AM | Link to this

I have received several emails from an author/reviewer about the Harriet postings. I decided to check out one of the books that she wrote. She has written several but one that came out in Nov 06 has 24 reviews all 5’s. As I scrolled through these reviews it became clear that they are all other authors/top reviewers. I have to admit if I wrote a book I would want “friends” to back me & push the book but this is extreme. Obviously the publishers are behind this “advertising to sell”. The book stats says the date of the book is Nov. 28, 06. The first 6 reviews were posted on Nov 14, 06.

By vick mickunas

April 3, 2007 10:38 PM | Link to this

Oh my, this is getting ugly. A top Amazon reviewer is selling books he claims to have reviewed as “unread.” I feel like I have lifted up a rock and now I’m feeling a sense of revulsion at what has been revealed. The entire Amazon system is being called into doubt. Can this be possible?!


April 3, 2007 9:26 PM | Link to this

What a discovery! JMGunny sells the books he reviews: compare the seller “newbooksinprint” store-list with GMGunny’s review record. He “reviews” them and then puts them up for sale right there, in the used-books section. So he probably gets these books for free from the publishers, “reviews” them, and then makes a buck by selling them. No wonder he rates them all five stars. Btw, hilariously, in his used-books offers he states that “the book has never been read”. We suspected that all along!

By J Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

April 3, 2007 5:49 PM | Link to this

When it comes to improve sales, I suspect that the quality of reviews is not very important. I think what matters is (a) that there be at least some reviews (the more the better) — just so that the book does not appear “abandoned”, that there be some brouhaha around it, and (b) that the overall rating be high — the overall rating is what usually shown in searched, and it’s also the first thing you see on a book’s page. Another thing: again, HK is the most noticeable “reviewer”, but if you check the rest off ot the Top Reviewers list, you’ll see that there’s little difference (except for the numbers). What I am saying is that it looks like there’s a whole army of HKs crawling around Amazon (and not only Amazon, of course) posting commercial copy with five-star ratings. I guess this improves sales.

By Misfit

April 3, 2007 4:07 PM | Link to this

If I was Harriet and so many people was casting aspersions upon my good name and character, I would ask an independent person in to observe me while I read my book in record time and composed my review. Have them pick a nice obscure Dickens or Bronte and then test her on it. Of course, if I were Harriet, I would never ever announce to the world so publicly that I was not only capable of reading such trash, but that I enjoyed it as well. Last thought, the more books a person reads the better their language and writing skills should be. So why hasn�t that happened in HK�s case? Forty books a day and such abominable English?

By John Sollami

April 3, 2007 3:11 PM | Link to this

I certainly have no evidence about HK whatsoever as to her being a publisher’s shill, or not being a shill, or even being alive for that matter! In fact, none of us really knows much of anything about her, which leads us back to the title of this piece, “The Mysterious Harriet Klausner.” I must say, however, that if I were posting reviews and being criticized up, down, and sideways, I’d attempt to render a response of some kind. Not HK. Not a peep. Does this indicate an attempt to rise above the din, to not stoop to the level of the rabble calling for her head? Or perhaps she’s simply out of touch with reality, doesn’t read any comments, and is concerned only for her ranking? “Romance Writer” certainly was sure that HK was legit (but offered no hard-core evidence), and Rcon and Romance make a good argument that publishers would have to be idiots to pay someone to write badly and give away plots. That all leaves us up the creek. Why does Amazon tolerate such a person? How come she remains number one when the number two reviewer has more positive votes than HK for fewer posted reviews? And the biggest mystery of all: Why do I even care?

By Mr. Mxyzptlk

April 3, 2007 2:55 PM | Link to this

So why couldn’t Time magazine, or the next journalist to interview her, present Harriet with an unpublished manuscript, have her “read” it in his/her presence, then answer some questions to show her comprehension? I d-double dare ya, “Harriet.”

By Rcon

April 3, 2007 11:36 AM | Link to this

I am new to this phenom known as Harriet K. Seems to me that if she were really a shill for publishers that the plots would not be given away. Afterall, why would I read the book, if I knew how it ended? And wouldn’t publishers want someone that readers can trust? If she is wrong often, praises everything she “reads” and does a crappy job of writing it only makes the publisher look bad if she is on the take. Oddly, the reveiws I’ve read have been for books that are really crappy anyway. I think she is a poor, slightly demented soul, who believes she has writing talent and that it means something to be the #1 reviewer. Quality over quantity, dear Harriet.

By Charlene

April 2, 2007 12:28 PM | Link to this

I’m surprised that anyone believes Harriet Klausner’s reviews are either accurate or useful. In fact, many writers are quite uncomfortable with her reviews: she has been known to give away spoilers and, in at least ten cases I know of, has completely misidentified the plot, the location, or the time frame in which a story was set. Writers faced with a grossly inaccurate Klausner review have been forced to request that Amazon remove the review - an act which is only undertaken if there’s a material error or a spoiler. But I don’t think she’s doing it for the publishers. Noted reviewers are sent items called ARCs, advance reading copies, so that they can read and prepare a review of the book before it comes out. These ARCs are usually given away with no strings attached, and it’s not uncommon to see them for sale on eBay at ten times the price of a first edition. This is by no means illegal (unless the publisher has had the reviewer sign a contract stating that the ARC can’t be resold, which is vanishingly rare unless you’re J.K. Rowling), but it is questionable, since the ARC isn’t a final copy and may contain errors that didn’t make it into the official printing. It also doesn’t help that Klausner reviews are mainly just the back cover blurb (again, it’s allowed to reproduce this in a review under the fair use provisions of US and friendly country copyright laws) with a sentence or two added that makes it sound like Klausner reads what she reviews.

By vick mickunas

April 2, 2007 11:02 AM | Link to this

The enigma of Harriet Klausner becomes more tantalizing with each new post. She has a few defenders it would seem and a number of critics who are seething that she is the top reviewer on Amazon. The jury is still out. What do you think?

By J Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

April 1, 2007 10:26 PM | Link to this

I saw a quote somewhere that at one point the #2 reviewer had upwards of 12,000 reviews. So he’s not far from HK. Even at the “moderate” level of 66666 entries, he still must have been posting at half the HK rate (40 a day; near 14,000 reviews as of now), which would be what? 20 per day. Sure, that’s real, yeah, OK.

By J Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

April 1, 2007 10:22 PM | Link to this

I see a lot of red-herring arguments introduced all of a sudden, like this odd-ball idea that the professional status or the rank of a reviewer were at issue here. It doesn’t matter whether HK is a professional or amateur: what matters is that she cannot possibly be reading what she’s been reviewing. Professional or amateur, both cannot read forty books a day every day for years. As to the reviewer rank, I see no reason to suspect that the criticisms of the Amazon review system are driven by any kind of envy to HK’s status as a Top Reviewer. Where’s the evidence that the people participating here aspire somehow to insinuate themselves into this silly hierarchy to begin with? In addition, HK is not the only offender; John Matlock “Gunny”, or W.Boudville, or many, many others, though not as prolific, fundamentally are just as “good” as HK in the sense that they cannot possibly read what they review, and that the ratings they give to the books reviewed are overwhelmingly or all-positive, which suggests that they are more into promotion than honest reviewing.

By Kelly

April 1, 2007 9:05 PM | Link to this

C. Hayes, I would classify Harriet as a professional reviewer. I consider myself to be an amateur. Her reviews show up in many different places. She has had several articles published showing that she is Amazon’s number 1 reviewer. She obviously receives her books for free, many before the books are released. My reviews are for myself, I don’t think Harriet can claim that.

By Misfit

April 1, 2007 5:02 PM | Link to this

I noticed that her reviews come in clumps with the same publisher and publication dates, i.e. a long string of Avon books with a publication date of 3/27/07. Almost like they arrived in a box and taken out one after the other. I also noticed she has reviewed several books on 3/30 and 4/1 that have publication dates of 4/3/07 and later. I understand advance copies of books can be given to the media and such, but an unpaid volunteer reviewer?

By C. Hayes

April 1, 2007 9:38 AM | Link to this

Oh for cryin’ out loud! The way the above people are bellyaching you’d think they were talking about a professional reviewer. Harriet Klausner is an amateur reviewer, or “customer reviewer”, for an e-business site. Amazon is in the business of selling books, not in fostering literary excellence in book reviewing. Klausner is no better or worse than the average Amazon customer reviewer - just more prolific. She won her top rank because customers think her reviews are helpful. More people vote for her reviews than for others’ reviews. That is an indisputable fact, whether she reads the books or not and whether her writing style is good or not. The bellyachers are egotistical to the extreme if they think that they can dictate the helpfulness of a review to thousands of Amazon customers. If they personally do not like her reviews, then why are they reading them? It would be far more productive for them to spend their time and energy writing their own customer reviews.

By Seeker

April 1, 2007 9:15 AM | Link to this

All this is making a mountain out of a mole hill. is only about 1%-2% of the average books sales. On an average of 20,000 printed maybe 200 copies or less are sold through Amazon. Read the stats. Most of their money is now coming through used books. If someone buys a book because of HK’s reivew — what she sells two or three books more than if she didn’t post? Barnes and Nobles well sell nearly 10 times the books as Amazon. HK posts there,too, yet I don’t see anyone complaining about it. It’s just Amazon they gripe about. Why? The silly ranking. HK - or any reviewer on Amazon - have little impact on sales good or bad. Including the “this book sucks” or the people posting with mutliple passports.

By A Romance Author

April 1, 2007 5:17 AM | Link to this

Use common sense, please. Don’t you think if publishers (which they are not doing!) are paying for reviews they would buy something BETTER than this? I have NEVER bought a book because of one of HK’s reviews. They are not a review they are a “recap”. They are poorly written, often have details wrong. Stop looking for some bigger conspiracy plot. This is a simple problem of someone wanting to be a big fish in a little pond. “I am #1”…woo woo. But you know what…I see a lot of people wasting a LOT of energy worrying about this. This reporter included. Why? All I can say, is who cares? I have better things to do in my life than worry if HK is number one. If you want to get into some big revelation in the publishing industry, why not look where all the Advanced Reading Copies and free books go. Check out Ebay and you will see hundreds of thousands of dollars on the market being sold and resold with no benefit to the creator of the work. Now there is a serious concern. But no, let’s worry if HK is number one. Frankly, I would love to see remove ALL rankings. You don’t see the problem or wasted time and worry on Barnes and Noble. It only happens on Amazon because of the silly ranking.

By Kelly

March 31, 2007 5:03 PM | Link to this

Another comment that was pointed out to me that I thought was interesting . . the #2 reviewer deletes one of his reviews so that he can stay at 6666. No telling how many reviews he really has under his belt. He might actually be giving Harriet a run for her money.

By vick mickunas

March 31, 2007 3:33 PM | Link to this

I’m shocked. Not one person has defended Harriet. I was hoping that somebody would stand up for her? This isn’t looking good for the mysterious HK.

By Vic Hugo

March 31, 2007 6:12 AM | Link to this

We (other Amazon patrons) are partly to blame. If no one, and I mean NO ONE, gave her any “helpful votes”, she wouldn’t be the Number 1 reviewer. She would have just shriveled up and faded away, like I’m sure most of us are happily envisioning as her fate anyway.

By John Sollami

March 31, 2007 12:37 AM | Link to this

I have been in the publishing industry for well over 30 years. It is clear to many of us in the business that print sales are flattening out each year. Publishers are resorting to all kinds of gimmicks to move their stock, and to me, “Harriet Klausner” is just one more attempt to sway the buying public to lay down their dollars for what are essentially ubiquitous romance and genre pulp. I just did a Google search on the words “book review services” and came up with 279,000,000 hits in 0.29 seconds. Let’s exert some logic here. If something seems humanly impossible, well perhaps that’s because it is. There’s little sense in assuming Harriet Klausner is actually reading and writing the same formulaic recaps of pulp fiction books at an inhuman rate. I cannot accept that such a person is doing this. To me, knowing what I know of the publishing industry, it would make so much more sense if these “reviews” were hired out by very cheap labor somewhere overseas, from one of those 279,000,000 sites out there in the world of “book review services.” And who but a consortium of publishers (a) would have the money to pay for these reviews, and (b) would benefit the most from 4- and 5-star postings? In fact, most of Harriet’s reviews betray very poor English language skills and phrasing. This poor writing suggests these reviews are written by people who have English as their second language. I certainly can’t fault third-world organizations for trying to make a living, but I can fault whoever has hired them to do obvious promotion work under the false pretext of honestly reviewing books on Where the mysterious Harriet Klausner fits into this scheme, I cannot tell you. All I know is that if I smell a rat, there’s usually one hiding in the corner somewhere.

By J Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

March 30, 2007 10:34 PM | Link to this

Copyright rules for reviewers must be the same as for everyone else, but! There a but here: someone must complain about copyright infringement in order to stop an infringer, but why would a publisher complain about someone’s proliferating back-cover blurbs off off his books? On the contrary, you’d think he’d be very glad if someone proliferated them; after all these blurbs are pretty much advertizing copy and are written to enhance the sales. So I don’t think these guys are worrying much about “borrowing” material from the books they “review”.

By Kelly Curtis

March 30, 2007 10:25 PM | Link to this

This article and discussion has me wondering … what are copyright rules for reviewers? I know any reviews that we post on Amazon are Amazon’s property. What about the theory that some reviewers us the book jacket and submit reviews to many different publications?

By Barbara Delaney

March 30, 2007 5:38 PM | Link to this

Hi Vick, Thanks for the excellent article. I’m a neighbor, here in Cincinnati, and enjoy the Dayton art and music scene. I’m also an original member of the anti-Harriet federation. I think I also have the distinction of being hounded by the defenders of Harriet more than any other of her detractors. For awhile I had one of her champions following my comments with her own calling me, in all capitals no less, “STALKER”.Also, in the discussion that broke out after HK’s review of “Duplicity Dogged the Dachsund” one of her champions compared me to a child killer. Of course it’s obvious by the copious errors we as a group have identified, Harriet does not read the books she reviews.I honestly don’t care all that much when the book in question is a nascar romance or some other type of bodice ripper. But it does make my blood boil when she pretends to review an author like Paul Auster. Thank you for being the first journalist who has displayed the intelligence and skepticism to write an article correctly pointing out the fraudulent nature of Harriet Klausner’s reviews.

By J Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

March 30, 2007 3:14 PM | Link to this

There’s a crowd of “reviewer” like HK on Amazon. HK is the most obnoxious (forty books a day sometimes), but a lot of others still review several books a day, every day, for years. How could this be possible? Some of these books are highly complex: take John Matlock “Gunny” or W. Boudville (both “Top Reviewers”): the former reads a half dozen scientific treatises every day, the latter, um… only one a day. All reviews come with positive ratings. How is it possible for a simple mortal to have reviewed thousands of books where Amazon only exists since 1995 — and the reviewing option wasn’t even there from the very beginning, it’s a relatively recent function. Those of you who read a lot, ask yourself, how much do you actually read? Realistically, how many books a month? Three? Five, maybe?

By M Krysztofiak

March 30, 2007 11:24 AM | Link to this

While I and many of my fellow protestors from Amazon appreciate this journalist�s article, it only addresses the most obvious fraudulent reviewer: the infamous Harriet Klausner. She is certainly the most prolific and ridiculously obvious fake reviewer, but I do not think that she is the worst one. Another reviewer, Amazon�s #6 by ranking, goes by the name of John �Gunny� Matlock. Harriet reviews endless numbers of romance, vampire, and other, more �pulpy�, genre books��Gunny� prefers complicated engineering texts, scientific manuals, doorstop-worthy historical treatises, etc. Here is his �review�, submitted to Amazon 23/03/2007, of �The VLSI Handbook, Second Edition (Electrical Engineering Handbook)� by Wai-Kai Chen: [�Gunny�s� review begins�] Probably the best way to convey some idea of the broad scope of this book is to simply give the headings of the various sections of the book, rembering that each section contains from a handful to a bunch of chapters covering their own specialty: I - VLSI Technology II - Devices and Their Models III - Low Power Electronics and Design IV - Amplifiers V - Logic Circuits VI - Memory, Registers and System Timing VII - Analog Circuits VIII - Microprocessor and ASIC IX - Testing of Digital Systems X - Compound Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Technology XI - Design Automation XI - VLSI Signal Processing XIII - Design Languages Each chapter in each section is written by an individual or team that is expert in that particular subject. As their accumulated wisdom tends to be at the state of the art in that particular field, this is not a book for the complete beginner. It is intended for the working engineer, probably BS level, with a need for a one-source reference to keep abreast of new techniques and procedures as well as review standard practices. It is easily the most complete source of information on VLSI available. [�end �Gunny�s� review] Please note that this book contains 2320 pages and weighs 5.4 lbs. Let�s not even consider the fact that he submitted four other �reviews� on that same day. These reviewer�s are attempting to not only suspend our disbelief, but to catapult our rational thought onto another plane of existence. Hilariously, these two frauds, as well as several other �reviewers�, have their apologists, willing to jump to their rescue with proclamations of how the �reviews� changed their lives, etc. Most suspiciously, neither of these two individuals have ever defended their reviews, or responded to comments of any kind. I invite you all to peruse the various submissions by these individuals, and form your own conclusions. Cheers, MK

By spuggy

March 30, 2007 10:51 AM | Link to this

flippin eck! It takes me a year sometimes to read a book (okay so I am not a major or even minor book reader), but hum, I am smelling a rat.

By Jake

March 30, 2007 1:32 AM | Link to this

I couldn’t agree more with your comments. I’ve recently learned that the site has stopped posting HK’s reviews, perhaps for the reasons you raise. Some reviewers on Amazon believe Harriet’s reviews are done by committee. The poor quality - she regularly gets facts wrong, including the name of the author - would suggest that. In fact, several authors have posted messages on the Amazon discussion board complaining about Harriet’s reviews of their books.

By Bryan Carey

March 30, 2007 12:04 AM | Link to this

I�m Bryan Carey and I am a Top 500 Reviewer at (and, for what it�s worth, a former resident of the Dayton, Ohio area. My profile is found at Like you, I have been observing the Harriet Klausner phenomenon for some time and, like others who write reviews in the site, I am highly skeptical of Ms. Klausner�s �speed reading� claims and her ability to churn out review after review, day in and day out. Sometimes, she will �review� twenty or more books in a single day, making you wonder if she has a job outside the home or, if she does, why her employer is so liberal regarding her tendency to spend so much time in the break room. If you read Harriet�s reviews, you will notice that almost every one of them is written exactly the same way. They are almost always three paragraphs in length; award the book in question with four or five stars; and are written in exactly the same style. Her writing, which is often very weak and full of grammatical errors and run- on sentences, is similar to the brief overview often found on a book�s back cover or the inside flaps of the cover. It is like she has taken the book�s cover, paraphrased the notes, and presented her short synopsis as an official �review� of the book. From what I understand, Harriet Klausner is a real person, in spite of the suspicions of some that a group of publishers has banded together using her name as a pseudonym for the purpose of promoting their books by pretending the reviews are written by an actual person. I believe that Harriet Klausner is an actual person who spends a great deal of time each day writing reviews based on the summaries found on the book�s jacket. Locked away in her little corner of the world, she is a slave to her computer and to; composing poorly written summaries of books she has received from authors free of charge in exchange for writing a positive review in the world�s largest on- line bookstore. I receive free books from publishers myself and, in exchange, I agree to write reviews in,, and sometimes in other sites. But I never agree, as part of the deal, to compose a positive review. If a book isn�t worthy of the paper it was written on, I am quick to point this out. If the publisher doesn�t like my review and hence refuses to send me any more freebies, then so be it. Integrity has to rate higher than receiving the latest best seller free of charge. Whether Harriet Klausner continues to �review� books at in her haphazard fashion (and at such a frantic pace) remains to be seen. But there is an active movement in the site to end her reign as�s most �popular� reviewer. I don�t think anyone would mind so much if she would simply come clean and admit that she doesn�t read the books that she reviews. She is obviously receiving books by the truckload; quickly summarizing them based on their cover notes; and then posting them in with either a four or five star rating in order to keep the publishers happy as part of an agreed, promotional deal. Some writers would prefer to have her banished from the site. But since her reviews obviously draw potential buyers into, it is highly unlikely this will ever happen. It would take an angry mob to eliminate or at least expose Ms. Klausner for the fraud that she is. And considering how much attention she generates for the site, an angry mob is what it would take. P.S: As a side note, the per- member total number of reviews in Amazon includes ALL reviews written- not just books. Most any product can be reviewed in the site, although I am pretty sure Ms. Klausner has reviewed nothing but books.

By Lonnie E. Holder

March 29, 2007 11:41 PM | Link to this

For a perfect example of just how bad Harriet’s reviews can be, I recommend looking at “Dawn of Empire: A Novel.” I am unsure of whether Harriet made the factual errors or the author. In either case, Harriet’s comments regarding the bronze age were plain wrong.

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