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Preview: Comments on: Is Harriet Klausner for real?

Comments on: Is Harriet Klausner for real?

A blog about interface and product design by Joshua Porter

Last Build Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2011 20:28:57 +0000


By: Lined & Unlined » Blog Archive » 614

Wed, 19 Aug 2009 21:45:11 +0000

[...] There’s also some question as to whether Klausner was even writing her own reviews. Josh explains. 3) The teaching of Peter Kollock, particularly his famous Stanford lecture, which says that people [...]

By: Srhodes

Tue, 25 Nov 2008 22:45:43 +0000

Well, there are all kinds of reviewers on amazon who do tend to keep from giving anything lower than four stars. Some like to review only what they like while others do not. So I don't think just saying she has nothing but four and five star reviews is very viable. What is viable, however, is that the number of helpful votes she gets doesn't match up with the standing she once had (she's no longer number one). I'm willing to bet she's real. I might even think she does speed read. The problem with Speed Reading however is comprehension. Does she fully understand everything she reads? Or is she reading so fast she misses a lot? Her reviews really aren't that helpful. They're well written, even charming to a degree. But judging by how many helpful votes she gets, probably not that insightful. She may have achieved about 99,000 helpful votes... but when you look at the percentage of helpful votes it was around 55%.

By: glenna

Mon, 27 Oct 2008 01:33:44 +0000

For anyone who still has doubts that Harriet Klausner is a real person, not just someone made up by the publishing industry to help promote their books please read my story and take heed. I was an aspiring author who decided to get my foot in the door by starting a newsletter, The Talisman which was geared toward the promotion of new-age romances and authors. It started out small and within a year had grown to 25+ pages with author ads, articles and interviews. About mid-way through I was contacted by a book reviewer (Harriet Klausner) who at that time reviewed for another magazine as well as various publishing houses/authors, etc. This took place about the time the web was really starting to take off in the early 1990's. When the newsletter actually started paying for itself (I lost money for a long period of time), Harriet wanted to partner in and handle all the reviews, author contact, etc. even offered to buy me out. I was in my early 20's, had never been out of Texas and, quite frankly was very over-whelmed with the way the project started to snow-ball. After I talked myself into attending a RWA conference in NY and sharing a room with Harriet it became very apparent that in all actuality I had lost control over my newsletter which was just about to "take off" and was being sold in local book stores, and was on its way to bigger and better things. I was introduced around as the editor/publisher, etc., but it was Harriet who seemed to take credit for everything....after all she supplied the majority of the reviews by this time and had become the go-between for myself and the authors. Thinking back, I still can't wrap my brain around how/when/why I allowed that to happen. But it did. Sure, I might have been doling out $600-$800 in paper, copier rental, printers, mailing fees, etc....but that was it. In the end it seemed I was just another tool being used to help promote Harriet's acclaimed reviews and sparkling name. I'd say long story short about now...but it's a little late for that! So I will continue on...It was at the writers conference that I decided to pull away from Harriet and gain the much needed and well deserved control over my project that was well on its way to becoming a lucrative business venture. I removed myself from our shared hotel room and into another room with writers I knew, thinking this would be a fresh start for me. I knew I was getting divorced soon and wanted this to be a business venture that might somehow provide an income down the road and well-needed contacts in which to publish my own manuscripts. Little did I realize being so young and naive that Harriet could or would use her pull in the publishing/romance industry in which to not only ruin the newsletter/magazine but my good name and standing I'd worked so hard to achieve. Authors started pulling ads, publishers and authors stopped sending galleys, review copies and press kits and I started receiving horrible emails from people I'd never had any personal dealing with as Harriet was the go between for awhile handling all reviews and anything to do with reviewing for the newsletter. In fact, thinking back now, I can't remember when or why I agreed to it but she even talked me into having the publishing houses that would send me boxed of advance reading copies etc. directly to her rather than me. Again..I was young and naive. In the end, I found myself 23 yrs old with a couple of kids, going through a divorce and starting over while I watched the project I'd worked so hard to create crumble and fold without any way of salvaging it since I was now apparently being blackballed within the industry. My only saving grace was that everything from the logo to the name, tagline and much of the art was original and had copyrights and trademarks pending at the time so she couldn't just pick up where I left off and totally screw me. So...yes, Harriet Klausner is most definitely a real person. A VERY powerful rea[...]

By: Bob

Tue, 17 Jun 2008 12:10:28 +0000

It turns out that pretty much every HK review under the sun is the same format- 2 paragraphs of plausible-sounding plot intro followed by 1 paragraph of random praise (the first two are not necessarily accurate either). Anyway, let's do some math. Harriet seems to review roughly 6 books every day. Let's now assume that her seed-reading abilities are such that she can read a book in just 60 minutes. For a 360 page book, that's 1 page every 10 seconds- and a lot of books have many more pages than that. Even if she could keep that up, it would take her 6 hours EVERY DAY to read the books, then review them. Plausible? I think not. In any case, just to confirm, something is indeed up. A quick internet search uncovered these two links: Apparently Harriet's speed reading is not her only demonic power- she can also shapeshift!

By: Leslie

Thu, 17 Jan 2008 04:35:38 +0000

My problem with Ms. Klausner is that she never seems to read a book she dislikes. I don't find her reviews helpful simply because she has so many 4- and 5-star reviews that I don't trust her opinion. It's called a bell curve, sweetie, and while most readers automatically weed out the books they'd rate at the bottom of the scale, the majority of what a discerning person reads is average or slightly above.

By: K McFarlane

Sun, 18 Nov 2007 00:21:40 +0000

I'll say one thing for Harriet. At least she lets her "reviews" speak for themselves. There are a number of reviewers on Amazon who somehow get dozens, even hundreds, of helpful votes virtually overnight, while other reviews sit unnoticed alongside them. The problem with using helpful votes as a barometer of a reviewer's worth is that it is an easy system to rig and hence is open to abuse. All you need is an email address to place a vote. The book sitting at the top of the bestseller list at the moment (Birds in My Life) is an interesting case in point of how the entire system is rapidly losing credibility. H. Klausner is another. It would be impossible for anyone to read and then write reviews for all the books that she churns out. Even the business of writing that many would take several hours a day. Moreover, her unfamiliarity with the content of the books is often obvious. It's a shame if people are influenced by these reviews, but the website is peppered with seemingly impartial reviews written with arch motivations.

By: Mark

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 17:14:24 +0000

I caution you to draw anything from how many negative votes Harriett's reviews are getting. There are people who go around voting negatively on every single review she writes. They have just as little life as she does. Not that I find her reviews helpful at all. I stopped even listening to her years ago.

By: Malleus

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 22:58:31 +0000

> What iâ€(image) m not clear about is what she stands to gain. A bit of cash perhaps? Btw, Harriet Klausner is remarkable, but, except for the sheer volume, she's not unique. Check out reviewing records of other 'Top' reviewers on Amazon, for example Robert Morris and W.Boudville. Do these guys read the books they review? I doubt it. There's a lot of 'reviewers' of this sort on Amazon (and elsewhere, actually). They tend to review huge numbers of books and they tend to rate them all positively, four or five stars. How realistic is that? Think of it, out of, say, fifty books you read most recently, how many were five stars? Looks like industrial-scale shilling to me. What they stand to gain we'll never know, but hey... they must be getting something for their efforts.

By: Mathew Browne

Tue, 23 Oct 2007 09:50:30 +0000

It's probably fair to presume that gaming of Amazon's reviews is fairly rife anyway, as Bud highlighted. What i'm not clear about is what she stands to gain.

By: Bud Caddell

Tue, 16 Oct 2007 20:53:25 +0000

This definitely goes to the point of ranking systems, their visibility, and its affect on a community. Who knew book readers were just as petulant as those awful nerdy diggers..... wait, they read books too? what a world! When I co-wrote a book, we were all asked to go on amazon and write positive reviews and the book publisher even had internal writers. I've come to take reviews with a grain of salt. To me, it's about what other books people purchased in addition to that book. I trust the wisdom of the crowd over independent vocal users. Just me.

By: pepelicious

Tue, 16 Oct 2007 18:16:35 +0000

I wasn't even aware that such rankings existed on Amazon until I read this article. User reviews are the first things I read when I'm looking for a book on Amazon. Judging by the example posted here, I wouldn't find Klausner's reviews helpful at all. It just seemed like a rehash of the editorial reviews that Amazon already provides. I'm more interested in reading a bunch of more subjective reviews and finding a common thread. Fortunately gaming Amazon's reviewer ranking system isn't as dangerous to consumers as the type of gaming that occurs on eBay.

By: F. RandallFarmer

Tue, 16 Oct 2007 17:10:30 +0000

Steve says:
"The problem is articles like this which profile her in a dark light and give the public more reason to mark her reviews as unhelpful."
This is untrue. The public doesn't read articles like this. Though it is possible that her amazon-savvy detractors may be "ganging-up" on her reviews, you would need to provide data to demonstrate this claim. Joshua Porter provides relevant data and asks the right questions about incentives. This is what happens when Quantity of submissions trumps Quality and you create an associated Leader Board.

By: MH

Tue, 16 Oct 2007 15:38:11 +0000

"you either have to be illiterate or have a lot of people that hate you" Are those the only two options? What I want to know is, what is the motivation for doing this? Just the perverse thrill of being high on the list? Is there any kind of possibility for monetary gain?

By: Steve

Tue, 16 Oct 2007 12:51:05 +0000

The problem is not Harriet. The problem is articles like this which profile her in a dark light and give the public more reason to mark her reviews as unhelpful. In order to attain a helpful rate of 8%, you either have to be illiterate or have a lot of people that hate you... I think we know where this stands.

By: Bryan

Tue, 16 Oct 2007 06:28:45 +0000

I think the fact that Don's reviews are 3x as helpful says enough. Besides being at the top of the list, what is the benefit of holding the #1 spot? Are you suggesting Amazon award the spot based on the number of helpful votes? I could see how that could be rigged too, so maybe the two combined and weighted is the right approach. I does seem that she's not helping people as much as other top reviewers.