If you’ve ever browsed for books on Amazon you’ve no doubt read a review by Harriet Klausner. She is the number one reviewer. At the time I wrote this blog she had reviewed 16,630 books.
Not only is Harriet quite prolific (on December 9, 2006 she reviewed 59 books) but she loves everything she reads (she rates a book as either a 4 or 5 stars out of 5 stars).
The great debate is over whether or not Harriet is a real person. Now on Amazon she has one of those “real name” badges on her profile but I’m just not buying it because the math doesn’t add up.
Despite her claim that she is a speed reader I find it impossible that someone could not only read 59 books in a day, but also write a review on each one.
To get a grasp of how absurd this is let’s say the average book is 300 pages. So 59 books x 300 pages = 17,700 pages. Let’s say each page has 250 words so 250 x 17,700 = 4,425,000 words. Let’s then assume she is a ballistic speed reader with a rate of 500 words per minute (200-300 is considered average) so 4,425,000 divided by 500 would be 8,850 minutes, which would be 147.5 hours.
Far as I know there are only 24 hours in a day. Mind you this doesn’t include the time it took to write the review. Well, maybe with all that reading she’s developed a device that slows time.
Even if I make the numbers extremely conservative with an average book at 200 pages and only 200 words per page and up her rate to 1000 words per minute I still end up at 39.3 hours. Sorry folks, but the numbers just don’t compute. And numbers don’t lie. I know this as an accountant. You can get creative with your numbers but numbers themselves can’t be forced to lie for you.
And don’t think for a moment I’m the only one to notice this. Below are several links to others who have pondered this most compelling mystery.
So why did I bring this up? Well, it’s been bothering me for a long time. I expect people to read the books they review. I dislike “puff” reviews just as much as I dislike “revenge” reviews--that’s where one writer will trash another writer’s work out of jealousy or an overactive competition bone.
Harriet reduces the fine art of reviewing to a simplistic formula. (Er, to get what I mean, all she had to do was read the back blurb, the promo material, and one or two lines of the actual book.) When I see her reviews, I ignore them because in my humble opinion they are meaningless.
Will we ever know who the real Harriet Klausner is? Does it even matter if she’s a collective of reviewers or simply a tool to give good reviews to almost everyone’s book? I guess the reason why I care is that I like to read reviews but I always take them with a grain of salt. Harriet Klausner annoys me because her reviews are “puff” without any real insight.