Harriet Klausner

You learn new things every day. Not necessarily useful things, but things. Possibly, these various items may pop up in a bar quiz someday. I can only hope.

Today’s thing is Harriet Klausner. This was clued to me by one of SFSignal’s various tidbit posts. This post lists a comment train that has been continuing for over 3 years now and is quite educational.

Harriet Klausner is Amazon.com’s #1 reviewer. “She” has reviewed more books than anyone else. As of today, she has written 12,939 reviews in almost the exact same format (three paragraph summation with a 4 or 5 star rating). This woman is either a front for a large set of people or someone who might possibly be lying to us.

I base this on the following data, drawn from Amazon’s list of her reviewed books.

  • She reviewed 19 books on December 10 2006
  • 59 books on December 9 2006
  • 3 on December 8
  • 1 on December 7
  • 1 on December 6
  • 15 on Decmber 3
  • 10 on December 2

I gave up at this point. I went to page 99 intending to find the date of the last review on that page. Then I decided to make sure I counted all the reviews done that day. I ended up on page 106! The date was August 2, 2006. Checking all of the August 2 pages, it ends up that 102(!) reviews were published that day.

So, if I do my math right, between August 2 and December 26 we have 146 days. Over the course of that time “Harriet Klausner” has posted 7.27 reviews per day. But, let us not discount what she said in her Wired interview.

Klausner, for one, has a day job to supplement her income. She works as a paid columnist in two national magazines, Porthole Cruise Magazine and Affaire de Coeur.


She never deliberately criticizes an author and she doesn’t accept gifts or money when writing about a book.

So, here’s a woman with a day job, who never deliberately criticizes authors, yet (from not-so-random-sampling by yours truly and through affirmations by others) never gives less than 4 stars on Amazon, and reviews 7.27 books per day. The first ten books in her reviewed list as of today, the 26th of December, averaged 423 pages. So she reads and reviews 3075 pages every single day, including weekends, while holding down a paying job, and presumably reading the first 50 pages of at least the occasional novel she does not like. Let’s be generous and reverse Sturgeon’s Law and call 90% of the novels she reads good and the last 10% crap. That leaves us with a grand total of 3113 pages per day every day all year long.

She must be keeping bandage companies in business with all of her paper cuts.

This is a bunch of crap. No one can honestly, ethically, review this many books every day and have more to say that banal generalities that we can get from the book jacket. If she is telling the truth and does read this much, I have no need to read her stuff; it will be trite and useless to me. If she is not telling the truth and has a team behind the name, then why don’t they publish better reviews? Read some if you don’t believe me…

I have nothing deep to say about this, other than it reinforces my belief that you cannot trust book reviews or reviewers unless you actually know the person who did the reviewing.

While paging through her listing of reviewed books, I noticed that one of them was a book of photography. I might be able to believe she can speed read her way through 3113 pages, but a book of photography is not a novel. It would require a different mindset to “speedread.” Yes, I realize it’s only one book, but it’s proof of principle. My principle.

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