Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Ties that Bind Klausner (Financial Ties to the Publishing Industry

TheWall Street Journal (WSJ) Magazine reports that Harriet Klausner receives compensation from her “book reviews for periodicals like Affaire de Coeur, I Love a Mystery, the online 'zine Baryon, and from her work as an advance reader for the Doubleday Book Club.”  The article did not mention that Harriet is paid by Porthole Cruise Magazine.

Klausner is also employed as a staffer for the Washington Times, where each one of her reviews is followed by this notice:

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media.  REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

When this blog entry was first posted published on October 4, 2012, the webpages for WillowTree Press (a small, independent publishing house)  contained syndicated Harriet Klausner reviews on its website and provided direct links to which is well known for its “pay to play” policies.  Additional links on the Willow Tree site redirected the reader to syndicated Harriet reviews on and  It appears in that in one day, Willow Tree Press has gone out of business and has taken most of its website down.  The credits to,, and merrygenregoround are no longer available.  However, still contains the book reviews with Harriet's name on them.

Publishers like MacMillan, Vinspire Publishing, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and a host of authors use Klausner reviews from  Juno Books, a subsidiary of Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, and Bardsong Press feature Harriet Klausner reviews on many of their webpages.  A number of writers credit and booksnbytes for the use of Klausner’s reviews.

There are several definitions for the word “syndicate”, but the definition that fits is “a business concern that sells materials for publication in a number of newspapers or periodicals simultaneously”.  Klausner has syndicated herself under the names “Harstan”, the owner of her wordpress blogs (click on the "syndicated revewer" link by Harriet's name and it redirects to through, and Harriet's Book Reviews.  These three sites are owned by the Klausners.  In light of the tens of thousands of uncopyrighted and unsyndicated reviews on Amazon, there is absolutely no reason to syndicate Harriet’s reviews other than to be able to charge for them.  If charges fees for those reviews (which it does), Klausner obviously receives payment for them. 

On, first-time authors are required to fill out an application form and submit a $35.00 fee.  This fee is characterized as a “membership” fee.  If authors want expedited reviews they can pay a fee of $175.  A bulk review schedule shows prices ranging from $110 through $150 per book, depending on the numbers submitted.  This is the information that is available to the public.  It is not known how existing authors work once they become members, because those pages, if they exist, are not public pages.  Willow Tree Press's former webpages demonstrated that they used to obtain book reviews from Harriet Klausner.  This is an author's webpage with  a review from Harriet Klausner at  Klausner is not listed on the webpages for’s reviewer webpages, but she reviews countless books on their website.  Harriet is far too savvy a businesswoman to give away the rights to her reviews so that someone else can be paid for them.

Harriet’s activities with a known paid review business, went dormant in 2000 after she had posted more than 300 reviews. 

Klausner and her husband Stanley own and operate a minimum of seven reviewing websites and Harriet herself is affiliated with at least 35 other online reviewing sites.

Hattie’s dishonesty has been proven time and time again.  No reason has been stated for Harriet’s vastly different profiles and many different business names under which her reviews are posted and websites are owned.  There are several reasons why this could happen, but the top two are:  (1) to avoid liability; and (2) to hide the business trail.

The question of the day is whether or not Amazon has paid Harriet for any of the 28,076 reviews she has posted to date. A clear connection can’t be made.  Amazon allowed, at one time, advertisements on its website that solicited people to write Amazon book reviews for $10 apiece.  While the ads are no longer allowed on Amazon's pages, the advertisements can be found all over the internet.  No direct connection between the advertisers and Amazon can be proved.  The problem is that Klausner hasn’t shown any reluctance to pass up an economic gain (as indicated above), especially if it can be hidden.  Paid reviews would highly incentivize someone like Harriet who can, and frequently does, post more than 200 reviews per month.  This could be one explanation for the hastily posted, poorly disguised, rewritten dustjacket language in her reviews.  It could also explain why Amazon protects Klausner in spite of her blatant violations of its review policies and in spite of countless complaints about the violations.  Rather than fix the Harriet problem, Amazon has limited voting capability on the helpfulness of her reviews, deleted comments, and banished some people from commenting at all.  Whether right or wrong, this only adds to the suspicion of a tidy little business arrangement between Amazon and Klausner.

In the final analysis, Harriet is employed for her services by none less than one publisher and six magazines.  A minimum of another five publishers each feature many of her reviews on their websites.  She additionally receives payment for her syndicated reviews through,,, Harriet Klausner Reviews.  Klausner has syndicated her reviews on websites that she and her husband own.  She has been a prior member of at least one other pay-for-review entity.  She resells free early review copies of books that she receives from the publishers.  It can’t be proven that she receives income from her position as a print editor at or from and, two blogs that authors credit with allowing them to use Harriet's reviews.  It’s not clear whether the other websites that Klausner owns generate any income.  The relationship between Klausner and Amazon is inconclusive.  Many of these relationships raise serious questions, nonetheless, because there is plenty of room for financial dealings within the murkiness.

*  Unfortunately, within 24 hours of first posting this article, Willow Tree took down almost all of its webpages, leaving only 2 Klausner reviews with the notations of "syndicated reviewer." The Klausner connection to Willow Tree through is still evident on

Wired Magazine
Time Magazine
WSJ Magazine
The Washington Times
Dayton Daily News
NY Times
Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Magazine
Washington Times
Dayton Daily News
I Love a Mystery.Com
Books N
barnes and
blether: the book review site
Reader’s Robot
The World of Romance


Malleus said...

Great stuff, and a lot of investigative work, Embee, thanks a lot. Btw, it'd be great if you added some specific links, rather than generic front-page ones. Like, for example, you say "The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Magazine reports [etc.]" — where do they do so? Adding links is real easy on this site (highlight the words you want to be linked somewhere, and click on the "link" word above the editor: this will pop an entry dialog box, enter (cut and paste) your link in there, and click on OK, and you're good).

Beachmama said...

Embee: That was beyond amazing to read. I have no idea how much time it has taken you to do the research but IMO it was well worth it! No matter what I have previously suspected Harriet of I am absolutely stunned at the sheer depth of the charade she is pulling off. Even if she actually read the books that she reviews, it would still qualify payola, since she seldom ranks anything below four or five stars and never has a negative opinion to share. The fact that she isn’t reading anything, doesn’t actually write reviews but summaries and gets PAID in dollars or books (she can convert to dollars) is a rip off in every possible way and she is doing it with the total approval of Amazon, a lot of publishing houses, some authors, newspapers, magazines and blogs galore.

I really think this should be printed up and sent to the NY Times. Remember their article titled “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy”:

Well here are the details from the NY Times’ website on: How to Submit a Letter to the Editor:

There is an email address along with a snail mail version.

Perhaps having stuck their foot in the murky pond of paid for reviews they would like to see just how much money is involved and how wide spread the problem is. Putting Harriet’s ‘face’ front and center would be fitting for someone who is essentially stagnant, smelly scum spreading across the book world.

Nice job!!!!! This is just the kind of leverage we need.

Malleus said...

Embee, this is great. Thanks for adding these links, looks fantastic.