Monday, May 14, 2007

How tight are Harriet and B&N?

Interesting, I stopped in at my local Barnes and Noble and I have to wonder how closely aligned they really are. On the few occasions where I've taken a book HK has review on Amazon and looked it up on B&N, I've found the same review there, but posted much earlier (and before publication date) on the B&N site. Now, when I stopped into B&N last weekend, I swear at least 50% of the books on display (especially those on the end of the fiction shelves) were all books I've seen recently reviewed by HK. Makes one wonder.

12 comments:

Moderator said...

I suspect that Harriet isn't really in cahoots with any particular store, be it B&N or Amazon. I think her name is simply used by some aggregation of publishers to post back-cover blurbs sorta thing everywhere.

I have no doubts whatsoever that HK (provided there is a live person behind this brandname) doesn't write these 'reviews'; doesn't post these 'review'; and in short, doesn't have anything to do with them other than renting out her (his? its?) name for posting.

All right, maybe she does write a few and adds them to the overall "Harriet Klausner(TM)" pool of crap -- that may be, but this changes nothing.

Edward DeVere said...

Well, it's nice to be back writing about this hideous phenomenon known as HK and amazon after being gagged and bound by amazon itself recently. I thought they would throw me off entirely, like facist Stalinists or something, but they've left my reviews alone and my "ranking" and votes remain untouched. Do anything you want, but don't delete my reviews, fer cryin out loud. I spend hours writing the damn things. I printed them all out anyway, just in case.
Background: I was told I was a member of amazon in "bad" standing because I repeatedly posted the same comment to HK reviews and that's considered "spam" by amazon mavens. ALL my comments were removed as well. This was scary and weird, almost as if the next step was to have someone crash through my front door and drag me out to be tortured for daring to criticize the totalitarian state! Okay, so I'm being melodramatic and hyperbolic...I admit it. But it's still very very weird to be censured like that. There's no recourse, and, for the record, I'm not interested at all in begging to be forgiven. Screw that!! They're the ones lying to all of us, not me, by posting obviously phony publisher-driven crap and failing to own up to it.

Well, there's no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Harlequin and other massive imprints are completely behind the troll HK (what a photo! I've never seen her image before!! She should be selling garden hoses or something!) and are financing these illiterate recaps to purposely post something, anything, to these book sites. As I've said many times before, all these recaps are written by ESL people offshore, or even onshore by the likes of MM (Monumental Moron??), and make no mistake, this is BIG business, even though only a fraction of these books are sold online. These reviews are powerful for those masses who read such rubbish as vampire love and pulsating mastubatory romances. Very close cousins of porno.

I recently attended a book show in NYC where amazon was represented. The person giving the amazon talk specifically said amazon guarantees publishers promotion of their products. That would be HK and her soulmates at the top of the class, although this person didn't say that, of course.

Anyway, it's all business. Books are the same as widgets, shoes, fertilizer, or any other non-cultural product in a capitalistic system. They are not bearers of culture. They are bearers of money. Any publisher will tell you that. What's horrifying to us is to realize that and have it thrown in our collective faces every damn day as HK's manure rolls in with the tide. No stopping it. It's as constant as the rotation of the earth.

Anyway, sorry to rattle on but I've been bottled up for quite a while. Good luck with this blog. It's my cup of tea, I'll tell you. Whoever the moderator is, you're a carbon copy of me! See ya.

Moderator said...

Edward, welcome to this blog.

You make perfect sense: I think, even despite knowing nothing about the publishing industry, one simply can't help suspecting what you describe.

About reviews: you say you've printed them out -- that's good, but why not simply save them to disk? Just in case they're "lost" in some ways... otherwise you'll have to retype them.

Have you thought of maybe posting your reviews somewhere else, like starting a blog maybe ? I thought of this many times... it's gotta be nice to be able to say anything you want and not worry about mysterious internal workings of the Amazon review system.

Edward DeVere said...

Thank you very much for your kind welcome. It's nice to be writing in a safe atmosphere.

I don't know the first thing about starting a blog. It sounds time-consuming, and that's one thing I don't have a lot of. I can write very fast, but I don't have the time to devote to creating and maintaining a blog.

I like the idea of writing on amazon, and I love it when anonymous people say they're following and enjoying my reviews. That's amazing to me. It's also interesting to meet new people and to interact with people that have my mindset about books and literature. But I must say, the edge has been taken off of the whole experience for me after wallowing in the muck that's HK. The fact that amazon has permitted such a foul, gross, polluted mess of manure to prosper, and to be elevated to the number 1 reviewer spot tells me they care about nothing at all except gratifying their publisher clients. They care nothing about readers, site users, and even authors. They care totally about $$$.

Ah, but perhaps we are all incurable romantics to think anything otherwise. Nonetheless, I still remain fatally romantic and would love to write reviews for a site that really really cared about not only what I said, but how I said it. Perhaps that exists somewhere in Bloglandia, and perhaps you are right, kind moderator.

Moderator said...

Setting up a blog, for example here, is very easy. I thought it could be a nice place to post reviews -- at least as a backup, as a security against Amazon surprises. People can read them here just as well, and the reviewer will have his work automatically backed up sorta thing -- to say nothing about the freedom of expression you can enjoy in an independent environment. No self-censorship: you can use 'bad' words and not worry about your review appearing bowdlerized or not at all (or silently disappearing).

I could set up an empty blog for you, if you'd like: all you'll need to do is log in and post your reviews (or whatever you want).

I think people should in general stop relying on vendors' providing information on what they sell; among other things, that will mean that when I want to check out a book, I should google for it, not limit my searches to Amazon. Posting reviews in non-Amazon environment will motivate people (including myself) to start doing that.

KG said...

Hey Edward,
I would recommend your own blog, or even a myspace page, which is really easy to set up. I too love to write reviews and I am lucky because I am writing them for another website. I don't get paid at all, it's just the love of it. And I must admit that when authors say they have read your reviews you wrote about their books, well that makes my day. I posted on my myspace page about the reviews I write for amazon and other sites and won't believe the support and how awesome some people are.
It is a shame how some people ruin the fun for others, especially now with people purposely voting negatives for people.
So sad.

Deborah Hern said...

As much as I hate having to defend HK in any way, just because publishers use her blurbs on books doesn't mean that she's done any kind of deal with the publisher or bookseller.

Reviewers have no control over if/what part/when/how often a publisher will quote them. I just send the review link to the appropriate person. If they use part of my review for a blurb, I don't find out until the next book comes out with the blurb printed on/in it.

Edward DeVere said...

Well, it does look incredibly easy to set up a blog, and I guess I'm not keeping up with the blog world, as I can't imagine it having as many hits as an amazon would have, but maybe I'm wrong. It's certainly worth trying, as we already know what amazon is about. Thanks, moderator, for volunteering to set me up, but I see from opening this blog that it's a simple thing to do.

Deborah, there's no way 40 to 50 "reviews" can be posted every few days as regularly as fecal matter flopping from the backside of an overfed swine and not have a solid organizational backup. This practice has been going on for years!

Let's use reason and logic here. That's all we've got, as no one is going to step forward and admit to any wrongdoing, least of all amazon. In fact, HK and her band have never replied to hundreds of insulting and accusatory comments. Only the lunatic MM has come forward, and she "writes" close to the illiterate style of the alleged reviews, which strongly suggests to me that she's one of the employees of this conglomerate producing this dung.
Circumstantial evidence is perfectly valid.

Publishers need publicity of any kind. They are competing with so many other sources of information and entertainment that they will buy into any slimy scheme to move their sludge. And please don't think the big boys have ethics or values. They don't. Bean counters are completely in charge. Just look at all the mergers that have taken place in the past 10 to 15 years. It's appalling. Rupert Murdoch is right in there, among many other sleazeballs. HK is just another ugly symptom of a desperate industry trying to gain market share.

It's sad, especially when books were supposed to be the bastions of truth and culture and knowledge. Now they are nothing more than products, for the most part, and way too many of them are published to feed the lowest human appetites. O yes, I sound like an elitist. Well, do you know who Edward DeVere was? I'm just carrying out his tradition.

Barbara Delaney said...

Yes, I think we all do. The poet and the Earl of Oxford, I believe?

Edward DeVere said...

Hi Barbara, nice to know you're here. Yes, the 17th Earl of Oxford, who many think was really "Shak-spear."

Deborah Hern said...

Edward - Please don't misunderstand me! I am not, in ANY way, trying to say that Harriet can read, write, and post the number of reviews she claims. There's just no way one person can do that.

My only point was that, her blurbs are used because the publishers choose them. Not because of any "deal" she has with the publishers. And the reason they use her blurbs? Obviously, because they're always positive. And positive blurbs sell more copies. That's the extent of it. (I'd get quoted more often if I thought everything was just fabulous, too. But I choose honesty.)

Moderator said...

Edward, I agree completely.