Tale of Amazon's Most Prolific Book Reviewer Ends

People either loved Harriet Klausner or loved to hate her
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2015 9:20 AM CDT
Tale of Amazon's Most Prolific Book Reviewer Ends
Harriet Klausner died on Oct. 15.   (Thomas L. Scroggs Funeral Directors)

Former librarian Harriet Klausner died on Oct. 15 at age 63, leaving behind 31,014 book reviews on Amazon and a host of critics. Klausner, who started posting reviews on the site in the 1990s and published her last three days before her death, described herself as a "freaky kind of speed reader" who "read two books a day." She typically posted two to three reviews per day, though sometimes as many as 20, which raised the eyebrows of many. Some argued she was paid to post fake reviews since she never gave a book less than four stars and used words like "fabulous," "superb," and "adrenaline pumping," per the Washington Post. But Klausner denied any wrongdoing in a 2006 Time interview—she was included in the mag's "People of the Year" issue—and later explained to the New York Times, "If I can make it past the first 50 pages, that means I like it, and so I review it."

Others, including some who reviewed Klausner's reviews, criticized her posts as uninformative and noted her many grammatical errors. Still, Klausner had her supporters—among them, publishing houses. "I'm sure there are people who go online and think, 'I wonder what Harriet has to say about this book,'" a rep for publishing house Knopf told the Wall Street Journal in 2005, adding he sent Klausner every fiction title published there. She long held the title of the top reviewer on Amazon, but in 2008 Amazon began tweaking its "top reviewer" algorithm; in basing it on how helpful readers found reviews, rather than how many a user posted, Klausner lost her perch. She now sits at 2,447 on the list—though she was handed a "#1 Hall of Fame" badge. (This hilarious Amazon review went viral.)

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