Monday, December 29, 2008

Harriet Klausner Malapropism

Maybe I'm just late to the party, but I came across this reference to our Queen in a book on malapropisms: Click to visit.

Friday, December 26, 2008

"The Fish Rots From The Head Down"

I've raised this issue before, but I've usually been met with skepticism as to its likelihood. Reading the Klausner threads and seeing the proliferating number of readers who document her glaring errors, question her actual reading of just about anything she "reviews," doubt her ability in any event to read so much in so short a time, and express wonder at Amazon's benign neglect of her offenses, I'm forced once again to ask whether Amazon itself - or certain of its staff-members - are not in some way active enablers of the Number One Reviewer. The only people who'd stand to lose by such tolerance of fraud would be paying customers, not publishers nor bookseller Amazon. Perhaps my mind has in this matter a malicious bent, but I keep on thinking of the old Italian proverb, "the fish rots from the head down."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Person, New Topic

Hi, everyone. I'm new to this so bear with me, please.

I'm writing about something I first noticed a long time ago, but didn't give much thought to. There is a person who writes reviews solely to hawk his own book. Have you seen this?

The book is the "Emotional Intelligence Quick Book." The M.O. is to (1) be one of the first to write a review for a new book, a surefire best seller; (2) Write a generic review that fans of the subject will not be offended by and, as best as I can tell, always give it a 5-star -- probably so the author won't complain about someone using his book to hawk another book; (3) Add a final two-sentence paragraph saying: "Another book I like..." "If you liked this book, you should like..." "I read a lot of books this weekend and another good one was..." "I saw a review of another book on Amazon and bought it, it was fantastic..." and then provide a link to the "Emotional Intelligence Quick Book."

The guy is, from what I've seen, using many, many accounts to hawk the book. It's pretty obvious, but he takes some minor steps to disguise his footprints. He might create an account and review his own book, then review another book and insert an "ad" in that review. Then sometimes (not always) he'll toss in a couple of unrelated reviews. The reviews are invariably generic or else rehashes of something such as Publisher's Weekly.

I didn't know this for a long time. In fact, I took links in his review "ads" a couple of times without realizing anything was odd. I would see the book, though, and think, "This had absolutely nothing to do with the book I was interested in." None of this made much of an impression on me until I reviewed a book last week. I spent about three hours writing it. Maybe it wasn't "Moby Dick," but it was not a bad review, and it wasn't offensive in any way. (Nor was it political, which I've learned, garner automatic negative votes.

I'll skip the details, but I noticed my review and other new ones were picking up negative votes for no real reason I could tell. Looking around I noticed the "ad" in the top Spotlight Review. The book ("Call Me Ted") was relatively new and this review was the second one posted. I suspect he is voting on his own reviews, but whether that is the case or not, it had received enough votes to be the top Spotlight Review. I didn't really get suspicious until I clicked into the Reviewer Profile and saw he also reviewed the new T. Boone Pickens' book. And there was another ad. This review was childishly generic. It made Ms. Klausner's work read like PhD theses.

Two generic reviews, two brand new high-profile autobiographies, two ads for "Emotional Intelligence Quick Book." I did some Advanced Google searches and found the guy was pulling the trick all over Amazon.

I was outraged. I spent three hours writing an honest review and it had no chance to garner votes before it scrolled off the first screen. Yet this phony's "review" was the Spotlight, forever to stay on the first page, shilling for his own book.

Amazon has been less than useless. (The phone guy was understanding, but could do nothing but give me the e-mail address I already had.)

Has anyone else seen this? Is it something that is already public knowledge? Can we do anything? Please help bring this to light.

P.S. As I researched, I found complaints that this book was also being "advertised" in the Wiki entry for "Emotional Intelligence Quick Book." I'm so ticked off, I want this to become national news. I want the author of "Emotional Intelligence Quick Book" to explain or else be exposed for an emotionally corrupt human being.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

W.Boudville read NINE books today...

...and, needless to say, reviewed them all ! Well, before someone like L.E. Cantrell rushes in to remonstrate, précisons-nous: the latest earlier review was posted on the 23rd, so (today's being 25th) maybe W.Boudville spent two days, not just one working over these nine (9) books. I mean at least nine (maybe more reviews are coming? The day's not over yet).

PS. Do you think Harp is back at it? It's not 300 a week anymore, of course; but he is getting a goodly number quick, synchronously -- and, apparently, this number is intermittently being curtailed, as if Amazon were drawing in the reins a couple of times a day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Plus Ça Change, etc.

For all its huffing and puffing, has Amazon advanced one inch in any honest effort to clean up the improprieties disfiguring its website?

True, there's been some reshuffling of Top Reviewers, but Amazon intends to keep BOTH its older, more corrupted classical ranking and its new, pretty baffling one, awarding a reviewer the numerical ranking which is the higher of the two. If honesty has any role besides commerce as usual in these recent changes, one has to wonder what it is?

Moreover, it looks as if the Maestro of the highly questionable vote totals, Grady Harp, is already well on his way toward figuring out how to game the new system, amassing bizarre helpful vote totals for the same sort of marginal or frankly wacky books which "earned" his often hastily composed reviews hundreds of yes votes in the past. Dispossessed of the #6 ranking last month, he's begun moving up again in the new ranking system, and he'll probably be # 6 here after only several discomfiting months of excessive posting and Mystery Voter helpfuls. Plus ça change, indeed!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spreading Like Wildfire

People started to notice the overturn of the old rules of ranking on Amazon. First, there's a new post from our old friend Vick Mickunas, a worthy read as always.

And then, our other old friend, John (of the old but evergreen "Here's a shocker" thread on sfsignal) had a few words to say about the news: "Klausner's tumble from the top...".

"Dear Author" noticed too: check it out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Waves of Leavers"

The phrase is Judy K. Polhemus,' a member in good standing of Amazon's possibly most knee-jerk "Friends" voting group, the Guardala Gang. She predicts the departure in their own perhaps sincere, but no doubt bizarre outrage of various personages of the group who've been shockingly reduced in both reviewer ranking and number of countable positive votes. Either Hondo, the HKAS, or now Amazon must be guilty according to their newest claims, personal responsibilty having been laid aside by common consent long ago. Yet one wonders if such departures will be really more of a threat than a promise. In a possibly endless series of farewells, Steve Guardala who led the exodus even before Amazon subjected him to precipitous falls in ranking and "Yes" votes, nevertheless returned to cancel once again his mere content summary - aka "review"- of "Landknechts", apparently in preference to responding to questions about his innocence in vote manipulation by the Ghost and Yours Truly. Others of the group who will punish us all, along with Amazon, by their departure include such worthies as Giordano Hussein Bruno and H.Schneider. Ever a follower, like so many of the commentators on these guys' threads who "know" that a book must be worthless if one of these paragons doesn't recommend it -how clever these followers must be, to know a book's merit without bothering to read it- Judy Polhemus threatens to follow suit. What potential losses to the world of genuine reviewing!! Ave atque vale, nevertheless.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Revolution At Amazon!

On October 23 Amazon changed its method of ranking reviewers. Unfortunately, its explanation of the changes I find largely unintelligible. If anyone has a clear understanding of the changes, a posting to that effect would be much appreciated. Its new way, as far as I can discern, is just about as opaque as was its old one. Apparently the only abuse targeted is positive or negative serial voting by individuals or gangs of Amazon "Friends." Why it retains reviewer ranking at all or whether it takes arms against other fraudulent practices rampant on the site remain issues of concern.

The good news for critics of Amazon's former method of ranking reviewers is the demotion from first place of Our Lady of the 'Speed-read' Trash Novel, Harriet Klausner, and from sixth place to twenty-fifth of Our Maestro of the Inflated Vote Totals, Grady Harp! An added bonus for lovers of schadenfreude is the brutal demotion of one of the chief cyberbullies and pompous asses from the top six hundreds to the lowly six thousands. For all his complaining about the evil influence of the HKAS and presumed negative votes from its members, it was the repeated positive votes either from himself or his own little gang of rubber-stamping yea-sayers which served to hoist this self-important miscreant on his own petard. Sic transit gloria mundi!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Honesty and Amazon

On October 20 an Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer named "The Doctor" commented as follows at the foot of several Harriet Klausner and Grady Harp "reviews:"

"All Amazon customers should know the truth about Amazon's "top reviewers." They are sell outs. They mostly review books they've never even read. They are contacted by authors and their reviews are solicited. Why? It sells products, of course. It has been calculated that Amazon's #1 reviewer reviews an average of 45 books a week A WEEK! Is it possible to read 45 books a week? No, it is not. It has also recently been calculated that the reviews of another of Amazon's "top reviewers" have to have been written by at least 27 different people. Why the fraud? Why the collusion? To make money. Did you know that top reviewers receive free merchandise? That they are even sent free APPLIANCES? It's all a scam people, and most of the top reviewers "reviews" are not even legitimate. They provide positive reviews for favors in return. They also have many Amazon "friends" who get online and provide each other with positive ratings for all of their reviews. Collusion at its finest. Many of them have become a sort of half-a$% celebrity. but it's all a joke, and you shouldn't be taken in by it."

Not surprisingly, "The Doctor's" post was pretty quickly "Deleted by Amazon." Once again we owe Amazon good language for teaching us that honesty in the contemporary business world is an easily overrated virtue.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Et voila

Steve Guardala's review of Landsknechts, after having accumulated a number of interesting posts about the reasons of what happened to him, has finally been deleted.

I guess, having 'deleted-by-Amazon' a number of offending posts by 'Hondo', and despite a number of increasingly unreal but energetic attempts of damage control by friends of the reviewer, it was decided that the commentary still contained too much damaging information (though it was all speculative, of course), and the whole thing was blown away. Hiding traces? Looks self-incriminatory, I fear.

ADDED LATER: The review has been reposted since. A new discussion takes place now, every bit as interesting as before; another delete-and-repost isn't out of the question! :-)

ADDED LATER: All's gone again. Looks like a new method of comment wipeout (doesn't look like a delete-and-repost, at least inasmuch as suggested by the preserved vote counts -- I think I saw it once before). Anyway: whatever the method, comments are gone once more.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Did you see this yet?

Here's a fantastic new book from Five Star Publishing by Sharon Ervin; the title is I believe Reviewer Harriet Klausner gave MURDER ABOARD THE CHOCTAW GAMBLER a five-star rating, although it shows four on Will you double check that?.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Now here's an enterprising author for you

Or is she a nutcase whacko? You be the judge. Author Chancery Stone starts a post at the Amazon Romance Forums promoting her Danny books to the romance readers, in part,

"The DANNY Quadrilogy is a 4 volume series of novels about the Jackson Moore brothers, part of a Cumbrian (English) farming family.They have a forbidden relationship, thoroughly twisted out of shape by an abusive childhood. Things get horribly out of hand and the jealousies and rivalries end in murder.Please be warned it is a sexually explicit tale with controversial content. However, for those people who live for intense emotional romances and who actively enjoy a challenging storyline then it will exceed your expectations."

Big surprise, most of the regular posters at Amazon took umbrage at the post as these books about sibling sexual relationships is not what romance readers are looking for. I don't know about the rest of you, but from looking at the author's comments on her Amazon blog about these books I'm guessing they're better classified as erotica or porn and not a serious novel on a sensitive subject and certainly for the romance genre.

I'd also like to point out for further reading to those of you who have been banned from commenting at Amazon for inapproprite language, on Ms. Chancery's Amazon Blog her thread titled, "Vanilla Lace. In Yer' Face. " Read it for yourself but be warned, it's highly offensive, and not for the kiddies - I think even our fearless leader Harriet would be embarrased. Maybe not. How stuff like that can get posted on Amazon is beyond me. And if you're still not convinced this one's a fruitcake, here's her website.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Of course! W.Boudville reviews ARCs.

Here it is from the horse's mouth:
Another gripe has to do with the low resolution screen captures. Text is hard to read. Also, when the figures are graphs, there are often 2 or more curves. There is a legend at the bottom that indicates what each curve means. But the curves are often hard to distinguish. This is in my copy of the book, which is an Advance Reading Copy. Perhaps in the final version that you read, this will be different.
But did anyone ever believe that W.Boudville reviews books he buys for reading? Of course he get ARCs from the publisher he's shilling for.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Don't like comments? Delete and repost!

Some reviewers resort to delete and repost completely shamelessly, without even attempting to hide it:
Amy E. Barker says:
I don't care for the comments feature that Amazon has provided with the reviews. I've seen too many people abusing it. I had to delete several reviews recently and repost them because of the number of nasty comments attached to the reviews. You can report them as abuse but Amazon doesn't seem to be doing their job lately.
And sure enough, a lot of commentary has been censored by this reviewer. Well, I'm glad Amazon "doesn't seem to be doing their job lately" -- if the "job" means censoring commentary, Amazon is to be commended for not "doing their job". It'd be even better if they removed this delete-and-repost functionality altogether! It's not needed for anything legitimate, and effectively its only use is blowing away comments.

PS. And look at the reviews!

Friday, August 22, 2008


Here's one natural-looking exchange.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Why do crap books demand 5 stars just because you got them free?

Some months ago I was contacted by author Brandon Simpson who wanted me to review his book, Demystifying Spanish Grammar as I have reached a reviewer rank in the 180s. He sent it to my address in the U.S. and it took a while to get to me. But last week, I read it and began formulating an honest review of this fairly bad, amateur and self-published work. Imagine my surprise when I got to the Amazon listing and found twelve 5-star reviews already there, with Grady Harp's leading the pack. Why do top reviewers feel a need to give 5-star reviews to self-published dreck?

Are they afraid that self-published authors will stop sending free review copies? Well, in that case, so what? The vast majority of these publications can't be unloaded for cash at a used bookstore, so you lose nothing if people stop sending them. Some of the top reviewers are doing just fine padding their collection of reviews with fluff pieces on items major publishers will notice and care about. There's no need to do so much for one dude in Kentucky who thinks he is so skilled in Spanish just because he got a B.A. in it.

When I tried to post my 2-star review, it did not appear on the page, and is presumably being held for evaluation. For what it's worth, here it is:

As I am an Amazon Top Reviewer, Brandon Simpson sent me a copy of his book DEMYSTIFING SPANISH GRAMMAR. Unlike some others here, I'm going to give the book the evaluation it really deserves, because learning a foreign language is a serious business, and people deserve the best tools. Simpson received a B.A. in Spanish and has worked as a Spanish tutor. He noticed that his pupils had especial trouble with a handful of Spanish grammatical concepts: 1) the use of accents, 2) the difference between "ser" and "estar", 3) the difference between "para" and "por", 3) the distinction between the imperfect and the preterite, and 4) the use of the subjunctive. He decided to compile helps on precisely these issues.

The result is all but unusable. When dealing with foggy areas, like the difference between the preterite and imperfect of "estar", Simpson asked random Spanish speakers instead of citing trustworthy studies prepared by trained linguists. There's little coverage of the considerable differences between Latin American and Spanish usages, nor literary Spanish (which form the small town American student will probably encounter more than the spoken language). The book appears to have had no professional editing and is amateur in all respects. On the back cover we find "This Book Will Demystify... the Dreaded Spanish Subjunctive!!!" Using exclamation points so abundantly doesn't inspire confidence. Inside, misspellings and lack of punctuation abound. Typesetting was done in a word processor, Microsoft Word, instead of a suitable typesetting engine and the result is hard on the eyes.

I'll give the book two stars because the grammatical paradigms within aren't wrong. However, the student of Spanish would do better to get the [[ASIN:0007224206 Collins Gem Spanish Grammar]], a nice little pocket-sized reference of all aspects of the language, including a number of completely conjugated verbs, still widely available available on the used market.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Cleaner in hot pursuit (Chippindale update)

This guy, The Cleaner, is doing an amazing job. Take a look: it seems like an awful lot of Chippindale reviews have been crudely cribbed from somewhere else. I'm amazed at how The Cleaner digs up the originals -- that's an "amateur sleuth" (as Harriet would say) for you! Outstanding job; The Cleaner should send a bill to Amazon for doing what they should be doing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Caught with Pants Down: The Chippindale Affair Heats Up (Update)

Things turn more and more hilarious in the Chippindale(s) realm (or sad, depending on your view). Let me remind you where we left off in the past: J.Chippindale was accused by one-eyed-Jack of posting comments to his own reviews under a sock-puppet account "SpellingBee". Now, just to whet you appetite, a brief quote:
Initial post: 27 Jun 2008 22:45 BST
SpellingBee says:
Yep, these are great little books

J. Chippindale says:
Yes they are very good value for money and packed with information

one-eyed Jack says:
J Chippindale and Spellingbee are one and the same person. The sadness reaches new depths.

SpellingBee says:
This man is so conceited he even has the temerity to tell me who I am. Now that is creepy. Maybe I had better check with my mum. In fact he hasn't even got the gender correct, how wrong can one person be, but hey why let the truth stand in the way of one of OEJ's famous statements. Mind you if he stays true to form he will probably hedge his bets by saying that someone else has told him, or he has it on good authority, safety in numbers and all that. He may even say that someone high on the management ladder at Amazon has told him in confidence, but that would not be wise as they would certainly have to check their facts first and realise that it was not true. You see whereas OEJ says he knows who I am, strange as it may seem, I am the one person who actually does know.

one-eyed Jack says:
SpellingBee's real name is Jonathan Chippindale. And that's a FACT.

Misfit says:
He'll probably delete the review to remove the comments but there's alway the google cache. From Spelling bee's wish list,


Interesting reading and how the Bridal Registry (AKA wish list) done her in,
And indeed, if you visit SpellingBee's profile page, you'll see that the SpellingBee's actual name name is Jonathan Chippindale ! I was reading this thing yesterday laughing my ass off; highly recommended. Not only this particular review, but all of the latest ones (linked to at the top of this message).

PS. One thing I'd like to tell anyone visiting there: PULEESE do not click Chipplidale's notes unhelpful. They deserve to be proudly shown and also it's a pain in the butt to have to open them all the time. As the poet said, don't touch this. In fact, give the already closed ones a few helpfuls so as to open them.

PPS. Btw, this is something our friend 1eJack might want to know: Mr Chippindale now claims that at least some of his reviews have been written not by him, but by someone else (members of his family, as he claims for now, but who knows what whill happen in the future, perhaps someone else will be helping him soon?).

This is the same error that John Matlock "Gunny" made in the past. There seems to be some sort of Amazon policy that if more than one person posts reviews under the same account, this reviewer cannot be rated. Iow, it's OK to post results of a collective reviewing effort under a single name, but this name cannot then be a Top Reviewer (and rated at all). One of such reviewers is "Midwest Book Review": they openly state that it's a team and they are not rated. They post over a hundred one-paragraph reviews daily, all five stars, but they're not a Top Reviewer. How come Mr Chippindale uses literary help from his grandson and daughter, yet remains a Top Reviewer (No.18)? If Amazon finds out, he'll lose his rank !

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Once more Harriet neglects to read book before reviewing it

Posted by Ann:
I just read her review on Barnes&, for my latest Victorian Romance, released two days ago, and she has the plot all wrong. No way could she have read the book. I appreciate the five stars, but...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Deja Vu, All Over Again

Self-published author Robert J. Gagnon, modesty-challenged as Amazon self-promoters so often are, has seen fit not only to review but to award his own book, "Life At Fifteen," 5 stars. It is hardly surprising, given this lapse, to discover that Gagnon's other head cheerleader is the equally self-effacing artists' representative, Grady Harp. Mr. Harp, going on to rave over another book called "Days of the Embassy," spills the beans that Mr. Gagnon, apparently within minutes, ascended from mere self-published author to owner of a new publishing company responsible for this volume, too. Harp implies such publishing coups may well put the major houses to shame. Now if only he could persuade Gagnon to publish a new edition of "War Songs," which the public has so oddly neglected, we might happily conclude that Mr. Harp has received the most fitting payback.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Chippindale Manoeuvre

A Chippindale update: here it comes
Initial post: 27 Jun 2008 22:45 BST
SpellingBee says:
Yep, these are great little books

J. Chippindale says:
Yes they are very good value for money and packed with information

one-eyed Jack says:
J Chippindale and Spellingbee are one and the same person. The sadness reaches new depths.
:-))))) (I had to quote 'cause the guy most likely will delete and repost that thing.) I guess, upon givng this matter his careful consideration, J.Chippindale decided not to sue 1eJack after all and instead resort to supportive sock-puppets. Very wise, says I.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

W.Boudville read fourteen books today, 5,606 pages

Today (June 28, 2008) W.Boudville read at least eight (8) fourteen (14) books:

- Credit Risk: Models, Derivatives, and Management, 600 pages
- Handbook of Agricultural Geophysics, 432 pages
- RFID Technology and Applications, 242 pages
- Silicon Photonics: The State of the Art, 354 pages
- Geographic Visualization, 348 pages
- Market Risk Analysis: Practical Financial Econometrics, 426 pages
- Quantum Computer Science: An Introduction, 236 pages
- Energy Science: Principles, Technologies, and Impacts, 344 pages
- Exoplanets: Detection, Formation, Properties, Habitability, 314 pages
- Wearable Robots: Biomechatronic Exoskeletons, 358 pages
- Planet Mars Research Focus, 314 pages
- Automatic Speech Recognition on Mobile Devices, 404 pages
- Essentials of Programming Languages, 3rd Edition, 416 pages
- AutoCAD 2009 and AutoCAD LT 2009: No Experience Required, 818 pages
Total read: 3,204 5,606 pages of technical text read and reviewed today. All books four stars, very good books, W.Boudville liked them quite a bit.

PS. This is not after a half a year silence: he reviewed books yesterday, and the day before too, and so on...

Harriet Klausner Likes Blogs on

Turns out that our hero, Harriet Klausner, has set up not one, not two, but six different blogs on (here, that is; on this very server) alone. All dedicated to book reviews, needelss to say. Remarkable, isn't it? I knew there was one, but six? Actually, this is a great venue, because this sort of blog shows the monthly number of posts, which, in HK case, means the number of reviews. It's consistently in low 200s. Harriet's no slacker.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

W.Boudville's Quest for Credibility

As is well known by now, W.Boudville possesses an impeccably positive (four stars) reviews record of a humanly impossible gigantic size. Having reviewed half a dozen scientific treatises a day for a very long time, he probably realised at last that no one can believe he actually reads these books, especially since his ratings are overwhelmingly positive (he likes four stars, probably in a mistaken opinion that an all-four- , rather than all-five-star record will make his record look less absurd).

Could this be an explanation of his strangest ever habit of, once in a blue moon, picking a book or two and slamming it on most idiotic grounds? Just so he has some negative reviews? Today we have another recurrence of this inexplicable pattern: he reviewed two books, one, a computer book published in 1980, which he slammed for being obsolete, and another one, titled Teach Yourself Basic Computer Skills, which he slams for being too basic ! :O

You just can't make up stuff like that. Truly.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Those Harriet supporters can be found in the strangest places

Interesting discussion on Harriet and her reviews on the Amazon Romance Forums, it's always refreshing to read comments from those who haven't been jaded by the whole Harriet reviewing machine. I did see one comment that gave me a few good chuckles,

"I have trusted Harriet's reviews for years and I have seen lots of negative reviews from her." Now, if I'm not mistaken we've only seen one three star review from Harriet and nothing lower.

"If she gives a book a great review especially if it is a new author I have never heard of I buy it and she is usually hits it right on the nail." Really and truly?

"I find her reviews accurate and compelling and not a copy of the back cover........ " I'm not even touching that one.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is there a Harriet wannabe in the top rankings at Amazon UK?

Horrors! Can it be true? Is it Klausnergate? A top reviewer at Amazon UK (current ranking #18) who pops out a healthy number of reviews on an almost daily basis and even states on his profile page in part, "All I can do is give a brief synopsis of the contents of the book and the author's background (if I know it). Criticism is a dangerous area. After all just because I do not like a book does not mean that everyone else will think the same. " Now doesn't that have a familiar ring to it!

But wait, there's more. According to recent comments on said reviewer's reviews, it appears the Brits may finally be on to him and discussions are quite lively at times and in defending himself said reviewer may have opened up another can of worms. Every one remember top ranked Gunny who gave nothing but glowing five star reviews and then turned around and sold those very same books as like new? See his comment here when challenged about whether he'd read the book (and I'll quote in case it's deleted),

"If you would like to give me your e-mail address I will forward the electronic receipt for sale of the said book by me on Amazon. The same goes for the Terry Pratchett book Sourcery. I am sat here wondering why I have to justify myself to you, but to clear things up once and for all I am prepared to make an exception. I always sell books after I have reviewed them, there is no point in keeping a book that you have read and anyway"

Interesting, is he receiving free books from the publishers and turning around and selling them? Thoughts?

Monday, June 2, 2008

"The HARP Variations"

Have others noticed a striking change in the instant growth of Grady Harp's surreal vote totals? Time was he'd break 150 to 200 or so 'helpfuls' within a couple of days, even were he reviewing a used kleenex or a burnt out match. Nowadays, the same absurd vote totals continue to occur, but never within a few days or on his opening page. There one sees, instead, the new tactic of slow, steady, though finally still preposterous growth. Are we to find it probable that hundreds of people who used to vote for Harp astonishingly quickly and oddly in sync have on their own suddenly decided to take it slowly and let the numbers climb into the stratosphere only on less visited older pages? The hypothesis of a single Wizard of Oz serving as his own principal voter - but now seeking to deflect criticism from persons not born yesterday - emerges as the most economical explanation.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ho ho ho

Top Reviewers

The ballots are in. The votes have been counted. Let's hear it for our Top Reviewers--selected by customers like you. These clear-minded critics voiced their opinions about items. In turn, they supplied their fellow shoppers with helpful, honest, tell-it-like-it-is product information. Please join us as we salute this topnotch group of review writers.
Yes! For example, Grady Harp... ("selected by customers like you"), or, when it comes to "clear-minded critics [...] supplied their fellow shoppers with helpful, honest, tell-it-like-it-is product information" -- who comes to mind? Why but of course it's Harriet Klausner, W.Boudville, John Matlock "Gunny", etc., etc. Yes! That's why we set up this blog, right, precisely: to "salute this topnotch group of review writers".

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hiring ten Amazon reviewers!

Here is a curious message: book reviewers

Looking for book reviewers with current REAL NAME account. We will hire 10 reviewers for our 120 or so titles on amazon, and will pay $5 per review posted. Please reply to this note with resume. A bit about our books: [...]

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Some Things Are Forever

There may not always be an England, but it looks like there'll always be a J.P.Picks. One by one out of the woodwork there invariably crawls a presumably vote hungry, astonishingly blatant sycophant eager to laud even the worst boilerplate posted by Grady Harp, the Maestro of the preposterous vote totals. The likes of Bette Dravis ("Keep your Pen Hot"), " Daniel Perez" ("Oh, Grady"), and Cindy Tardiff have kept alive the tradition of the remarkable J.P.Picks; one after the other, they too have unconvincingly oohed and aahed, only to disappear and cut short one's enjoyment of their shameless flattery. But there's no need to despair - after any short lull, a newbie on the rise is certain to appear as successor. The latest to fill the role is one ken O' connell. Anyone in need of a laugh is advised to check out his comment at the foot of Harp's review of the recent Bob Dylan movie. It's fully Picks-worthy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Computer Written Books

There is a fascinating article in The New York Times by Noam Cohen about a man who wrote 200,000 books. His name is Philip M. Parker and he didn't exactly write the books, he "assembled" them, with the aid of computers.

"Mr. Parker has generated more than 200,000 books, as an advanced search on under his publishing company shows, making him, in his own words, “the most published author in the history of the planet.” And he makes money doing it."

I guess it's not too surprising that someone like Harriet Klausner has used computers to fake book reviews, or that Grady Harp seems to possess some type of robotic voting program to boost his Amazon ranking, this man actually is using computers to compile books.The article goes on to say:

"If this sounds like cheating to the layman’s ear, it does not to Mr. Parker, who holds some provocative — and apparently profitable — ideas on what constitutes a book. While the most popular of his books may sell hundreds of copies, he said, many have sales in the dozens, often to medical libraries collecting nearly everything he produces. He has extended his technique to crossword puzzles, rudimentary poetry and even to scripts for animated game shows.

And he is laying the groundwork for romance novels generated by new algorithms. “I’ve already set it up,” he said. “There are only so many body parts.”

Soon those people who like romance novels will have Mr. Parker's computer generated romances to look forward to. Who would like to wager that Harriet Klausner will give them all five stars?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Grady Harp Reviews Plagiarized Book

**** The Fates: A Novel
by Tino Georgiou
Edition: Paperback
Availability: Currently unavailable

77 of 99 people found the following review helpful:
The Return of the Great Romance Novel, February 25, 2008
Reading and reviewing early works by novice writers is at times a daunting task. When the writer is so obviously talented as is author Tino Georgiou, the task is easier. Does the novel engage interest from the first page? Are the characters readily identifiable by the third chapter? Is the time frame of the story visually reconstructed in a credible, well-researched manner? In the case to THE FATES the answer is a resounding 'yes', and yet to ignore problems in the execution of the novel would be a disservice to not only potential readers but to the receptive, learning author.

THE FATES is a heady romance set in ancient Greek times. The Greeks, under the leadership of Sir Nicholas Constinos, have taken over Karabey Palace in the realm of Turkey, a palace fraught with resentment from the long wars with Greece and form the fact that the Turks on whose land it stands are resentful of the occupiers. The clash of societies is brought to a head with the introduction of the once upper class Turkish family of the Baals in the form of the beautiful Leah Baal. The struggle between the two obviously love stricken couple of Nicholas and Leah form the wedge which drives the story in an near Shakespearean conflict between class, national pride, and honest love that seeks to change the world view by its own rules. Love, lust, revenge, sacrifice, and fidelity are all issues that rise from the steam of the love affair between the Greek Nicholas and the Turk Leah.

This is a very entertaining story, one that will please devotees of historical Romance novels. There are problems that the author should address. In transporting the reader to another time in history and maintaining the atmosphere of that period (obviously well researched, here), it is a major mistake to insert phrases as early as page 2 that read 'He was not handsome in the underweight model way so fashionable among men and women on television today'. That sort of jolt disturbs the historical flow of the story! Also choosing names for the characters that are obviously not from the time of the story is disconcerting, names such as 'Josh', 'Keith', 'Patrick', etc. And do we have any evidence that the courtly designators such as 'Sir' and 'Lady' and 'Dame' were used in this era? Yes, these are minor flaws and should not stop the eager reader from enjoying this romance novel. They are mentioned as thoughts for the novelist to consider in what appears will be a long line of novels of this type. New writers are fresh, malleable, and deserve nurturing: Tino Georgiou obviously has the talent that will take him far. Grady Harp, February 08 Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2008 6:46 AM PDT

Do you remember this review? He gave this book four stars even though it sounds so poorly written as to be amusing. Ancient Greeks named Josh and Keith?! Grady Harp believes those characters' names to be the product of an "obviously well researched" novel? From what I've read in discussions at Amazon U.K. this book seems to have had the dubious distinction of being plagiarized twice. It was originally written and published as "Wildsong" by Catherine Creel in 1996. Then it becane "Circe's Song" by K.G. Glaub, and finally, "The Fates" by Tino Georgiou. How sad to see one dishonest person duped by another.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rereading Emerson: nothing is new under the sun

He [Carlyle] took despairing or satirical views of literature at this moment; recounted the incredible sums paid in one year by the great booksellers for puffing. Hence it comes that no newspaper is trusted now, no books are bought, and the booksellers are on the eve of bankruptcy."
From English Traits, published in 1856. Emerson visited England in 1847.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

More links and comments on the D.A.M. fiasco

Reba chimes in on a new thread on Dear Author, and check out this hilarious one from Karen Knows Best as DAM'S comments on Reba's review are found on the google cache. We also have a nasty new commenter on Reba's review of In Her Bed, looks to me like someone's opened up a brand new sock puppet Amazon account, with two brand new reviews. I'm wondering if the location on the profile being Hell on earth has any sigifinicance to DAM'S life these days?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jfoureur Explains It All

Here is "jfoureur's" answer to how Grady Harp amasses all of his helpful votes on his reviews. It appears in a comment on a review of "The River" written by Betty Dravis. According to "jfoureur", we do it, acting in accordance with Stanley Nemeth's directions.

Of course of the nearly thirty people who read this brilliant comment exactly none of them found it to be helpful. Look at the spelling, look at the grammar. Tell me, who does this remind you of? It was one of three comments posted on that review by "jfoureur" rushing to the defense of Marie M. It makes you think, doesn't it?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2008 9:55 AM PDT
jfoureur says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Hide post again. (Show all unhelpful posts)]
and your proof ?????????
or do you now kneel at the altar of Mrs. Delaney ???????
you seem more intelligent.
have you ever considered the possibility that Mrs Delaney and her cohorts use their own dummy accounts to mess with grady's vote counts and then accuse him of corruption.
his votes were normal until "they" appeared and curoiusly spiked when the pedantic Mr Nemetts gave instructions on their blog on how to set up dummy accounts,expressly for voting.
just an unproven possibility of course.

Your reply to jfoureur's post:
Reply to this post | Permalink | Report abuse | Ignore this customerStop ignoring customer

0 of 27 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More info on the Debbie Mac Scandal

Credit for this comes from commenters on a new thread on Dear Author. One from Karen Knows Best disputing DAM's claim that she's only an author and not a co-publisher at Highland Press. And two more, one from Galley Cat titled Authors Behaving Badly, and one from Jem's Thoughts. All this hoopla on the internet and still no posting on Amazon's discussion board. Perhaps Mark is right, no one wants to tangle with her.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Scandal in the romance genre involving one of our top reviewers!

Oh my, quite a tempest in a tea pot as you can see from reading this article on Dear Author on Highland Press and later this one demanding changes on Amazon's reviewing system. There's also been quite a lively discussion going on about this same topic at Amazon's Romance Discussions under the topic: Help! My negative reviews are being deleted.

It appears that the Romance field is quite a hot bed of competition, and some of it quite nasty, and that Top Reviewer and author Deborah MacGillvray is right smack in the middle of the scandal.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

How did Harriet get to be #1 anyway?

An interesting comment from a recent discussion on the Amazon DB's about Harriet in general. At least one person made the comment that Harriet debuted at the #1 position when Amazon first introduced reviewer ranking, which is interesting as prior to that all reviewers were not named and/or ranked. Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

16,000 How Could We Overlook?

Our hero, Harriet Klausner, has crossed the 16,000 (reviews) boundary. A 21-gun salut and let the celebrations begin.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Latest mischief from Marie M. a.k.a. Black Irish Latina

As I'm sure most of you have seen by now the latest attack on me by Marie M., Sharon S., Jeff G.,Lisa, Rachel, Elizabeth, Black Irish Latina,etc. has taken the form of her changing her latest fake name , Black Irish Latina, to my name, Barbara Delaney.

Under my name she is posting filth, profanity and abuse of other reviewers. And L.E. Cantrell is cheering her on, having become her friend yesterday. This vicious sociopath has now sunk to the lowest rung. Please join me in writing to Amazon and appealing her unfair appropriation of my name.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Voting Stopped in Harp's Realm (?)

What's going on? It's been another day without votes, positive or negative, cast in the Harp reviews threads. A lone neg (and perhaps helpful) is being given to everyone (MM?), but only one, nothing else appears; all comments are left untouched with a small number of helpful-only votes. This is unprecedented!

Also, as if to confuse the picture even further, there appeared a couple of totally new Harp-critical posters... What's going on?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Yet Another Klausner Outlet

Genre Go Round Reviews (very convenient: counts the number of reviews per month).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Is Harriet being plagiarized or does she have another identity?

Hmmm, which is it? See Harriet's review here, and then this review at Powell's. Another of Harriet's here, and this review at Powell's. There are several others, but it's late and I have a book to read. However, just in case these reviews at Powells are deleted, I have copied and pasted them on this board. If you go further into this "reviewers" reviews, he/she starts recommending the book mentioned in my previous post.

Rorey's Secret by Leisha Kelly

StephenWright, November 27, 2007Though life has been hard during the Depression, Samuel and Julia Wortham have weathered the storms through faith while raising their children. The Worthams believe they are blessed as they and their children have been healthy, they still own their Dearing, Illinois farm, and the two remain very happy with one another and with their children. However, in 1938, disaster strikes at the farm of their close friend and neighbor George Hammond when a fire destroys much of his property. After the blaze is put out, but not before much damage to the crops and the barn occurs, everyone begins to wonder what caused the inferno. Most people believe Franky Hammond set the fire except teenage Sarah who feels Rorey caused the disaster as they share a secret that both keeps silent about even as their families struggle with a new beginning with only their faith in God keeping them going. Six years have passed since the Great Depression impacted the Wortham and Hammond families (see KATIE'S DREAM, JULIA'S HOPE AND EMMA'S GIFT) and the children in those tales are now adults or teens. However, the message remains the same though told from new perspectives; that when things seem bleak, hopeless, and darkest salvation and solace is with the Lord. The story line is exciting as readers observe varying viewpoints about the fire and its aftermath. Americana Historical Christian readers will enjoy this fine tale of salvation after the brutal test of fire.
Was this comment helpful? Yes No (5 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)

StephenWright, November 27, 2007The enemy has laid siege on Astara in the Kingdom of Gadiel with only Prince Vartan Karayan standing in the way of conquest. Though physically and mentally exhausted, Vartan continues to lead the counterinsurgency until he is betrayed and subsequently critically wounded in combat left blind to die. A Hylean Lady Danae, who escaped from abusive religious tyranny, saves his life. When Vartan recovers his health including his sight his outlook has changed as he feels a bond with his nurturer though he still struggles with the truth turning towards Danae's God. When the Dragonmaids invite Danae to join them she believes she has found her life's calling. However the price is high as she has fallen in love with Vartan; he makes her decision harder because he not only reciprocates her feelings but needs her at his side praying to the true God to enable them to save his people. The queen of romantic fantasy Kathleen Morgan returns to her regal roots with GIVER OF ROSES, a terrific saga filled with religious symbolism and starring two courageous, battle fatigued champions trying to overcome impossible odds to save their people and each other, not necessarily inclusive. The story line is action packed from the moment Vartan falls in battle, but also insures the relationship between the healer and the patient and their beliefs in the true God evolves. The audience sees the dilemmas and choices that the two heroes must face though that insight at times diminishes the epic proportions of the plot. GIVER OF ROSES is a fine tale with strong spiritual parables that sub-genre fans will cherish.
Was this comment helpful? Yes No

Manipulating Amazon?

A new topic/confession on Amazon's DB's today. This 1Brandevx person is somehow mixed up in shameless shilling and promoting a self published book called The Fates written by a writer called Tino Georgiou AKA Giorgio Kostantinos. Interesting to note who the only reviewer of this book is, isn't it? What appears to be happening (and it's much more prevalent at Amazon UK) is that reviews of other books are being posted by multiple identities and include in the last sentence a recommendation for the book The Fates. Here is one example, look through the reviews and find the recommendation for the book in question. There's even a review on Powell's Books that mentions The Fates. You can read earlier discussions on this topic on the DB's here and here.

What's really funny is this author has a website address that's printed on his/her book(s) and forgot to register the domain, which some enterprising person took full advantage of. Just try googling this Tino person and see what kind of interesting hits you get.


Edited, just found another interesting listing at Powells, and another at B&N (that familiar name again!!!).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Free-for-all Vote: Amazon's Surprising Loophole

Amazon makes it clear that people aren't allowed to vote for their own reviews or comments, period. Simultaneously, though, it has a surprising loophole open to the unscrupulous. If anybody sets up a no-purchase sockpuppet account, he or she would be barred, of course, from posting reviews or comments on Amazon, but would nevertheless be granted full voting rights on the reviews and comments of OTHERS!!!

A self-promoter could set up any number of these phony accounts within a few minutes, and they'd be at his disposal whenever he sought to inflate his own vote totals. This seems the simplest explanation preserving all the appearances and explaining the outrageous vote totals marking the Grady Harp Express these days.

Editor note: you don't even need to amass such accounts: you can create a new one for every 'voting session'. It's that simple: not only don't you need to buy anything from Amazon, you literally need nothing other than a throwaway email address, and even that most likely isn't verified. Takes ten seconds to type in a nickname, email address, and password, and then you're in business.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Grady Harp reviews on other Amazon Sites, but where's the voting machine?

You can read Grady's reviews on Amazon Canada here, and Amazon UK here, and I even found his reviews on Soooo, what's so different between the reviews on those sites and his reviews on Amazon US? Yes there are fewer reviews, but where is the TNGHVM? If, as the most prevelant theory is that GH has multiple Amazon accounts and uses those to vote himself silly, wouldn't he be doing it on those sites as well? He'd be #1 in a heartbeat without Harriet to contend with. If he's vote mad as we all believe he is, why aren't the votes there as well?

I suspect that it's not multiple accounts, but that GH has found some software and/or is able to manipulate the Amazon votes and that's where the massive votes come from, and if he could do so on the other sites he would as well. Besides, try getting an extra Amazon account and give yourself a vote or two. You have to log in, find the item post the vote, log out, log in again on new identity, vote again, etc. Even with the fastest connection and fingers of fire no one could do that in the time frames we've seen those votes come in.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Spaceman Spiff is no L.E.Cantrell

Here's a good blog entry (and thread):
... For those who haven't heard of her, Harriet Klausner is the #1 reviewer on Amazon. As of right now, she's posted 15,584 reviews. Her very first review is on page 1,559 of her reviews listing, and it's dated November 22, 1999. That's nearly 2,000 books a year. That obviously isn't possible, even if she is a speed-reader. That'd be about six books a day.

To make it worse, she never gives a book fewer than four stars, which makes the reviews totally worthless. Said "reviews" are never anything more than a synopsis of the novel.

She's obviously a shill, if she's a real person at all. I suspect that she started out as a real reviewer, publishers made a deal with her to use her name to advertise their products. ...
Everyone gets it, how come our friend L.E.Cantrell doesn't? ;-)

Who is Grady Harp and how come 'his' reviews have so many votes?

The ABNA contestants have noticed the prolific voting of TNGVM. Read about the discussion here. The link pulls up the ABNA discussions, scroll down for the GH thread.
Note: Here is the direct link to this discussion thread.

Monday, February 11, 2008

NPR Morning Edition on Amazon Reviews: Mountain bore a mouse?

NPR produced a piece on Amazon reviewing; even Harriet Klausner has been mentioned. Here it is.

Also, somewhat relevant, check out this article: Booksellers Upset Over NPR’s Amazon Link.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Robert Morris wipes his record clean (?)

Looks like our friend Top Reviewer Robert Morris got rid of all critical comments under his reviews. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I couldn't see a single one of those posts that questioned his all-five-star ratings or at-least-a-book-a-day reading habit. All I could see was some quantity of joyous and laudatory Quality Comments(TM). A major delete-and-repost campaign, or am I seeing things?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Now that's weird: double negatives?

I was perusing some reviews there and encountered this comment under one of them:
La Maniatica says:
Ok, I appreciate the review. What I dont understand is that when you give bad reviews, why do you always have to review it twice to give it extra bad ratings then what is should get. Giving the book 2 2star ratings is not helping this review. I have noticed you doing this on quite a lot of books. I am going to buy this book despite your reviews. Just leave it at one review.
Then I looked at the book's two-star-reviews' page, and what do you know, indeed Deborah MacGillivray posted two negative reviews for this book. What's that about? Negative shilling ? Why keep several reviews of the same item to begin with, regardless of the rating?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Case in point: a bunch of small-time frauds

Someone mentioned 'misrareviews' recently here. While thumbing through the Slate-article-related thread on the Amazon "Discussion Board" a minute ago I noticed a post of hers (his?). This is a very good example of the crap that takes place on that 'Discussion Board' (the place is completely overrun by shills there, try to have a meaningful discussion and you'll see). Here goes:
It's puzzling that the article vaguely casts aspersions on [...] John Matlock, because there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with [him]. Matlock uses a staff of writers (from his own web site), so he can't be ranked. The article says that Matlock "took a holiday from Amazon", when he was actually harassed off of Amazon -to the detriment of customers. [...]
This post is a deliberate crude lie. It is a lie because John Matlock "Gunny" had operated as one of the Top Reviewers (No.6?) for years, as an individual, not a team. He was a classical example of an obnoxious fraud who posted multiple reviews daily, half a dozen, dozen, pick your number; all five stars, no exceptions. Go check his posting history and see for yourself.

Once his good works started to attract attention and people started posting comments under his reviews asking if it's possible that all of so many books are all five stars and whether a human can read that much to begin with, he tried to 'explain' (away) the mind-boggling size of his reviewing output by saying that, no, he doesn't read these books; he is a public face of a team of reviewers (17?) who post under his name. That happened only after he was pushed against the wall as it were and after years of posting as an individual and holding some high Top Reviewer status.

Whether one chooses to believe this 'explanation' or not is one's decision -- personally, I don't believe it (his thoroughly imbecile reviews were all written in a very consistent individual style and also, why would a bunch of people labour in obscurity and then post the results of their hard work under someone else's name?). But however you look at it, one thing is clear: he was engaged in fraud for years -- whether it's because he was 'fronting' a group of scribblers yet posed as a Top Reviewer (who, according to Amazon rules, must be individuals), or because he was working alone but kept reviewing books he didn't read -- couldn't have! too many --, doesn't really matter: either way it was wrong.

'misrareviews' was active on Amazon and the Board during all this time, including the time when Gunny finally got defrocked; lurid details of this wretched saga were discussed on the Board and elsewhere ad nauseam, and so 'misrareviews' knows what the real story is VERY DAMN WELL, and yet s/he spews lies in a desperate attempt to rearrange reality in a way that would make Gunny look like an innocent victim of a savage persecution. Corporate solidarity, no? What else could it be. These guys have no fucking shame; all they know is probably, today it's Gunny or HK, tomorrow who knows, maybe it'll be them, and so they close ranks no matter what.

As far as Gunny's being 'harrassed' off Amazon, well, I'd rather say chased away, but otherwise I agree with this. Except he should have been 'harrassed' off Amazon years earlier, and not by alert, suspicious customers, but by Amazon themselves. And of course, no one has literally the power to chase anyone away from Amazon, he simply appears to have stopped posting anything there -- though, as I would imagine, the commentary under his reviews and elsewhere (press articles and blogs) played its role in his decision. I think it was a wise decision on his part; one only wishes Harriet Klausner and some other similar 'reviewers' did the same.

As far as his departure's being to the detriment of customers, I think not: to the contrary: it was his shameless shilling that was to the detriment of customers -- he 'reviewed' thousands of pages' worth of printed matter daily; frequently scientific/technology books which would take even a trained, competent person months to read; in addition, his reviews were quite imbecile, which demonstrated that not only wasn't he reading these books: he coulnd't possibly understand them even if he tried to read them; and finally, again, all his reviews were five stars, all three and a half thousand of them. Detriment? A departure of a fraudulent asshole like that was a benefit to customers.

Calomniez, calomniez... (The Secret's Out)

Our friend Bibulous Frenchman has finally learnt the truth1:
Mrs. Duh-laney is rumored to actually be Harriet Klausner,and she set up the whole "anti-Harriet" thing to attract extra attention and solidify her No. 1 standing.
Finally, the secret's out. But wait, more people claimed to be Harriet Klausner -- OK, I Admit It: I’m Harriet Klausner. Personally, I think it's L.E. Cantrell who is Harriet Klausner. Or maybe he's Elvis, I haven't decided yet...
1. Reviewer Taylor X deleted/reposted the review where the quoted comment was posted; the comments are gone now. Here is a link to the cached page though (click on 'show post anyway' if it's hidden).

Harriet reviews NONEXISTING book.

Check this out:
[...] I'm sure there are credible people out there sincerely writing some of the reviews seen on Amazon and the like, but how do you feel about it? Do you read them/write them/love them/hate them/ignore them/quote them? Is it a service to readers or a possible disservice to authors? Is there a line being crossed? And what about the Harriet Klausners who write 45 reviews a week? Is it even possible to read that many books and comprehend them? [...]

From one of the comments under this article, I gotta quote, it's hilarious:
[...] As an example, after I agreed to write Bayou Bad Boys a few years ago, one of the writers got ill and had to drop out. Unfortunately, the story description she'd sent in to Brava got on the back of the ARC under the replacement author's name. (Fortunately it was changed before the actual book was published!) But HK reviewed all three novellas described. Even one that didn't exist. [...]
(From the comment by Joann Ross.)

There are some cretinious entries too:
leeannewat commented: The only time I read a review on Amazon etc... Is if I am looking to find out what a book is about... And if I find that a person has given a Negative review I click the "No" U know where they ask u if this review has been Helpful or not... I'm not sure what this does but I hope it does some good for the Author... As I think everyone should be "Given a Fair Go"...

Deborah Macgillivray commented: [...] Yes, click NO helps! So keep clicking!! Also if you see a particularly bad review that is over the line, click REPORT THIS. [...] I am a top review there, as I am on the other versions,, and [...] This all so has nothing to do with reviewing. They are not posting reviews; they are posting their opinions. Big difference, though they don't seem to understand that [...]

Leah commented: [...] I do rely on reviews to tell me what's worth shelling out the dough. At Amazon, I look at the stars - not the actual reviews. If something has a number of reviews (say, more than 10) and they're all consistently 4 1/2 to 5 stars, I think that's meaningful [...]
Rivitting! We thought a review actually is the reviewer's opinion of the item reviewed, but then what do we know... maybe a review should be rewarmed liner notes: by looking at Amazon reviews one just can't tell.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We got email from Mark

Mark writes:
You know, I really wish you had open comments so I could post on your blog. Especially since you are discussing me. Twice. Yes, not only am I the blogger from, but I also am the Mark you quote in today's post.
Mark, the message at the top on the left of our front page says that if you'd like to join us, send us your email. We can't allow unregistered comments because the next day the place will be spammed out of existence by the same people we're talking about. We were open for a while at first, and this precise thing happened. But anyone can ask for an invite to join as a named poster. Our asking for registration is simply a way to keep this blog clean of malicious interference: a named poster who becomes disruptive can, and will be banned. I sent you an invite to the address you emailed from.
First let me state, I have read every word on your blog. Heck, I link to it from my blog. I visit it most days to see what you are saying. And, as I said in my post which you quote (but seem to ignor), I have no use for Harriet either.
We didn't ignore this, but your beef with Harriet is based on a wrong thing, and I'll restate why: your problem is with the quality of her reviews; we believe she's evil because she reviews the books she didn't read and she reviews them all positively. The quality of her reviews is a very secondary issue; it is really a side effect of her modus operandi. By your logic, if she managed to post good reviews (if, say, her reviews were produced by a team of competent copywriters), you'd have no problem with her. We still would: she's a shill, regardless of the quality of her reviews. So, as you can see (and could see earlier, simply by reading our previous post), we did not ignore what you said.
I am not defending her, nor would I want to. I do believe she at least skims the books she reviews since I have read things in her reviews that are major spoilers and not on the dust jacket. However, those instances are few and far between and certainly don't defend her at all.

And obviously, I do need to apologize. While I investigated the blog you linked to that started my own diatribe, I couldn't figure out how many reviews the person posts every day. I jumped to a conclusion that it appears wasn't warrented. And for jumping to conclusions I do apologize.
Apology gratefully accepted.
However, let's get one thing straight. I post negative reviews. Your recent comment on the post that links to my blog inplies I don't. In fact, the second half of the post you quoted talks about some of the blowback I have gotten from a couple of my negative reviews.

And I am unattached to the book publishing business. I haven't even written so much as a short story that has been published, much less a book of any kind. And if you look at my reviews, you'll see I give a variety of ratings, more then normal recently. Yes, I tend toward the higher ratings, but mainly because I am picking what I consume and review, and that means I lean toward what I enjoy. If I don't like an author, I don't go back to them, for example.

You may post this on your blog, but please include my name and a link to my blog so people can judge for themselves if you do.
If you post negative reviews along with the positives, then it's obvious that what we said does not relate to you. We did include a link to your blog in the previous post, here's another one (is it the right blog though? :-)

Yeah, I know! Exactly!

Revisiting a recently posted link here. That was about reviewers who post positive reviews exclusively, where "Author Kerry Allen" feigned a major fit over our suggestion that an all-positive reviews record tends to hurt a reviewer's credibility. The faked fit was barely over when one of the commenters on that post, "Mark", let the truth out, unintendedly perhaps -- I quote:
> Mark | January 16, 2008 @ 8:47 pm
> Not to mention the blowback you can get when you
> post negative reviews. Trust me, I know.
Exactly! So what does this do to your credibility, genius?
Here I bumped into an article we've been linking to for a long time, Dangerous reviews on Amazon: it's very well written and it deals with this very issue. Who is Grady Harp?

Check out this article in Slate.
[...] I had imagined Amazon's customer reviews as a refuge from the machinations of the publishing industry: "an intelligent and articulate conversation ... conducted by a group of disinterested, disembodied spirits," as James Marcus, a former editor at the company, wrote in his memoir [...] As I explored the murky understory of Amazon's reviewer rankings, however, I came to see [...] a tangle of hidden agendas-—one in which the disinterested amateur may be an endangered species.
From Who is Grady Harp?, by Garth Risk Hallberg.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More Feigned Misunderstanding

More of the same (I think).
There are many different angles to this hobby I call Internet reviewing. There are those of us who take it way too seriously and review everything we can get our hands on in order to have a greater opportunity to increase our rank. Then there are the people who just want to use it as a means of getting the word out on things they've enjoyed. I started out in that camp.

Among those who take things way too seriously are the Harriet Klausner Appreciation Society. Now I have no love of Amazon's #1 reviewer. Her "reviews" aren't helpful and are getting sloppier by the month. And a little mocking of her rather major mistakes is fun. The group is also on the lookout for other major cheats on the site. However, these people will take on anyone that doesn't live up to their standards. They also only allow comments from people who have been approved, so their site is nothing but an echo chamber of their own wisdom. And one of their biggest issues is people who only post positive reviews.

Yesterday, they had a post up linking to a blog of an Amazon reviewer who only posts positive reviews. His reasoning? He doesn't want to spend any more time thinking about something he didn't enjoy. Naturally, they were all over this, stating that he has just proved he's nothing but a shill who can be bought by publishers. How they can know him that well from some reviews and a blog post is beyond me. [...]
Is what we've said in the past really all that unreasonable? What am I missing?

My response to this guy: Of course if you've posted fifty reviews in ten years and they happen to be all positive, it's entirely OK -- you probably read many more books than you've reviewed, some of the books you've read turned out not so good but you didn't want to bother reviewing them: fine. At least it's not impossible! (Having said that, I think your credibility with the reading public -- as compared with the publishing community ;-) -- would only grow if in addition to praising the books you liked, you'd warn your readers about those you didn't. But let's set this aspect aside for now.) This is not the kind of reviewer we're talking about.

Our heroes are reviewers who review multiple books a day, every day, with an overall record of thousands of books, all of them five stars. In such cases we cannot reasonably assume that they've read many more books than those they've reviewed. In fact, it's impossible to believe that they've read what they've reviewed to begin with, but let's set this aside for a second and pretend we don't question their superhumanly massive reading program: let's just ask whether is it possible that one's total reading (of such size!) has been exclusevly on the four/five-star level? One wishes... This is a rhetorical question.
There's more fraud in the quoted post above. Let's take it apart piece by piece:
However, these people will take on anyone that doesn't live up to their standards
Where did this come from? Did we publish any standards? Any examples of someone we 'took on' w/o a clear easily observable reason? Who'd that be? Harriet? W.Boudville? Gunny?

Moving on (this one's a favourite with certain people ):
Now I have no love of Amazon's #1 reviewer. Her "reviews" aren't helpful and are getting sloppier by the month.
The quality of her reviews is irrelevant! Instead, it's the quantity and ratings, meaning: (a) no one can read that many books (several reviews a day on average, what was it, five or seven? That would imply she reads at least that much, and this alone is more than even she herself claims to be able to read -- and then why would anyone believe what she says ?) and (b) all reviews are five stars. Both (a) and (b) are impossible: the former by itself, and the latter in combination with the former.

Why worry about the quality of her reviews (though it's dismal -- although, contrary to the quoted commenter's words, it doesn't get worse: it's always been the same, i.e. preposterous crap, which fits the picture, but is immaterial in our discussion).

The point is, even if her reviews were fantastic she'd still be an obvious, in-your-face fraud. And all attempts to turn discussion away from the sheer impossibility of what she's doing to almost irrelevant issues like quality of her reviews, is a sign of either stupidity or disingenuousness. Any bona-fide reviewer is welcome to write, literarily speaking, as bad a review as he wants. Bona-fide, I said.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Old canard surfaces again:

" there’s nothing to be gained by talking about the books I don’t like. "

Unrelatedly: remember our old post "Yes, of course! I mean no"? It was about The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Here's someone else talking about the same issues.

Please revisit this familiar link (hilarious)

We've already linked to this article, but there's a new comment there, at the very bottom, a hilarious one. I'll quote a tiny bit:
[...] Over at my website, SF Reviews.Net, a pleasant little hobby, I have a Forum. One day about two years ago, I logged on to discover that, in the space of a half hour, Harriet Klausner had dropped by, sniffed around like a dog looking for a good place to mark, and flooded the Forum with no fewer than 50 of her “reviews.” Then she had evidently moved on. [...]
This is written by someone called Thomas M. Wagner. Enjoy!

Friday, January 11, 2008

An Overzealous Top Reviewer?

Now here's an ambitious reviewer. I know this topic was brought up briefly under one of the HK review threads, that being whether to post the same review under multiple issues of a book. You will find with the out of print books there are multiple listings, I suspect as each issue has a different ISBN # or something that forces them to be listed separately. In those cases when I've been shopping for a used book, one of those items has the bulk of the reviews and that's where I go to post my review instead of perhaps the issue of the book that I purchased and there are no reviews. Make sense I hope?

Anyway, this reviewer takes it to a new level. For example, I've pulled up the book title of a couple of her recent reviews, the first being Anya Seton's Smouldering Fires, and get this result, and a similar result with Seton's Dragonwyck. In both cases you will see multiple listings of the same book, but only one has the bulk of the reviews, the others have one each and you will find that the same reviewer posted the same review over and over again. To what purpose? As this reviewer reads and reviews books in the same genre that I read I've looked at her reviews before looking for reading ideas and have noticed this pattern of hers is a long standing habit.

I've been on a recent foray into 19C British lit and with them you'll find the Penquin Classics, Barnes & Nobel, Norton Critical editions, etc. for the same book and I have on occasion posted the same review on more than one edition of the same book, and received helpful votes on both reviews, so I felt the effort was worthwhile. I have to wonder why this reviewer takes so much time and effort to post the same review over and over and over again, since my understanding that the total count of your reviews doesn't help your ranking.

So, I guess my question is why go to all this trouble? And why doesn't Amazon fix it so that whatever book edition you review, i.e. The B&N Edition of Great Expectations it posts to all editions of the same book. I know they can do it, I've seen it happen, and that way I wouldn't see my Amazon recommendations keep suggesting another version of the same darn book I've just reviewed.


PS, I am not knocking this reviewer in posting this comment. I'm actually glad to see a top reviewer reading books that aren't part of the mass market paperback world, it's nice to see someone reading and reviewing the out of print stuff. My only quibble with her reviews is she just tells WAY TOO MUCH of the story.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

W.Boudville transformed

Here's one of the recent W.Boudville reviews. Don't you think it's entirely out of style? Meaning his style, i.e., two paragraphs of fragment-infested drivel about nothing with a four-star rating. Check it out, the review is actually well written and extensive. What do you think of it?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Rewritten Reality on Harriet

Here's an article you may want to read:
[...] But take another look at the prolific HK and you'll find a couple of clouds to this silver lining. A quick perusal of her reviews indicates that all of her reviews–all of them–are either four or five star affairs. Apparently every book is good or great, which is a pretty good track record for an industry which has the reputation of producing some schlock on occasion (just scurrilous rumors, no doubt). Still, you would imagine that one or two authors wouldn't have gotten the "only great books accepted" memo and might, possibly, have written something a little below par. [...]