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.


Barbara Delaney said...

Sometimes I wonder if people like this writer have ever even read anything on this blog. Sweeping statements and generalizations about us taking to task anyone who "doesn't meet our standards" demonstrate this lack of understanding of the blog.

I still find it difficult to understand why people want to uncritically accept the claims of the Harriet Klausners of the world but I suppose it's the same people who believe in alien abductions and that Elvis lives.

Malleus said...

Call it paranoia, but in cases like that I tend to suspect disingenuousness. Feigning indignation where offence is absent to begin with is very suspicious to me. All these guys are book authors and reviewers. I think I'll wait for critique from unattached people. Unattached to the publishing industry, that is.

Stephanie said...

And then there are the ones that read " Harriet Klausner Appreciation Society" and stop there. They think we are pro-Harriet. Maybe they did a "speed-read" through the blog. We all know how effective speed reading is.

I tried to find the part where we only allow the ones that meet our standards. The only thing I found was from someone that made a one time comment under the name anonymous that said that very thing. How can one go on the word of what one person said? Imagine if everyone did that. The world would be in a world of hurt.

Elvis is dead?!

Malleus said...

No, I just saw him. :-)

I, too, have seen a few articles where we're descibed as real fans of HK. Funny indeed. One moron even thinks this blog is written by Harriet herself. And all these guys are aspiring writers! Makes you feel sorry for publishers, if that's what they have to deal with day in and day out...