Harriet Klausner (May 20, 1952 – October 15, 2015) was an amateur reviewer of books and a newspaper columnist. She was the #1 ranked reviewer on Amazon.com for many years, and at the time of her death held the No. 1 spot in Amazon's reviewer "Hall of Fame".
Klausner grew up in the Bronx and her father was an employee of McGraw-Hill. Klausner was a former librarian with a master's degree in library science, who was proficient in speed-reading. Reportedly, "ailments (kept) her home and insomnia (kept) her up". She resided in Atlanta.
Klausner professed in her online profiles to read two books a day, but a 2007 profile of her in Time reported that she reads four to six books per day. This article named Klausner in its top 15 list of the "web generation's movers and shakers". Per an interview published in The Wall Street Journal in 2005, she stated that her goal for reviewing is to bring attention to "lesser-known" authors who "don't have a publicity machine behind them. That's the whole purpose of my doing this on Amazon". She read mostly romance, thrillers and science fiction.
By the time of her death, Klausner had reviewed 31,014 books, most on Amazon. As well as posting many reviews on the Amazon website, Klausner also posted reviews on several other websites, including Barnes & Noble; Books 'n' Bytes; SFF Net; on-line magazine Of Ages Past; and SF Site.
She was the #1 "top reviewer" on Amazon.com until October 24, 2008, when the company began a new ranking system. The new system ranked reviewers according to how many readers found their reviews helpful. At the time of her death in 2015, she was ranked No. 2,447. Amazon kept her at No. 1 in its reviewer "Hall of Fame", a symbolic nod to her contributions.
Klausner was criticized by those who questioned whether she actually read the books she reviewed, given the time taken to read a book and the number of reviews Klausner published per day. Additionally, every book she read was given a 4 or 5 star review. Sarah Kaplan said "Her unrelenting positivity made her reviews utterly uninformative." Stanley, her husband, said: "She's soft, I won't deny that." Some wondered if she was being paid for the reviews, and others wondered if she was even a real person.
In 2007, a group of reviewers who were critical of Klausner set up the cynically named "Harriet Klausner Appreciation Society", an online forum to monitor her reviews. They encouraged mocking responses to her reviews and offered cash rewards to anyone who could best mimic her style of reviewing.
Author John Birmingham deliberately included a character called Harriet Klausner in his novel Designated Targets. It was noted that Klausner made no mention of this in her review, casting doubt on whether she had fully read the book.
To her critics, Klausner said only "Get a life", she said in a 2012 New York Times interview. "Read a book."
- Sarah Kaplan (October 29, 2015). "The woman who wrote 31,014 Amazon book reviews and upended the Internet, dead at 63". Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
- Streitfeld, David (22 December 2012). "Giving Mom's Book Five Stars? Amazon May Cull Your Review". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- Mayfield, Kendra (2002-07-01). "Harriet the Online Book Reviewer". Wired. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- Kaufman, Joanne (March 29, 2005). "A Novel Heroine". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007.
- Vick Mickunas (March 29, 2007). "The Mysterious Harriet Klausner". Dayton Daily News. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
- Grossman, Lev (December 16, 2006). "Harriet Klausner". Time. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
- "Harstan's User Profile - Barnes & Noble". My.barnesandnoble.com. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- Harriet Klausner. "Books 'n' Bytes Contributors: Harriet Klausner". Books 'n' Bytes. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
- "Harriet Klausner Reviews". sff.net. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
- "Book Reviews". Of Ages Past. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
- Harriet Klausner (2001). "The SF Site Featured Review: Arslan". Retrieved 2009-03-26.
- Andrew Liptak. "RIP Harriet Klausner, The Web's Most Prolific Book Reviewer". io9.