Book Reviewer Harriet Klausner Dead at 63
Posted on October 26, 2015
Harriet Klausner, Amazon.com's most prolific book reviewer, has died at the age of 63. She passed away on October 15th in Georgia. A cause of death was not given. Ms. Klausner was a speed reader who reviewed several books a day; she posted her reviews on various book sites and newsletters as well as on Amazon.com.
She reviewed every kind of book imaginable and generally gave them all glowing reviews. Her prolific nature led to a number of crazy conspiracy theories about who she was and how she wrote so many reviews. She was a fixture in the book world in the early days of the Internet.
The truth about her was more prosaic. Ms. Klausner was a former librarian with a master's degree in library science. She said in her Amazon bio, "I was an acquisitions librarian in Pennsylvania and wrote a monthly review column of recommended reads. I found I liked reviewing and went on to freelance after my son was born."
She suffered a number of health issues, which kept her close to home where she lived with her husband Stan Klausner. She is survived by her son Erik Klausner, his wife and nieces and nephews.
In 2006, Time magazine chose her as one of its people of the year for her impact during the early part of the Information Age. In the article by Lev Grossman we learned that Ms. Klausner never got paid for book reviews. Publishers sent her around 50 books a week in hopes of catching her attention. She has an astounding 31,014 book reviews to her credit with her last review being posted on October 12th, just three days before her death.
Her fame on the early Web gained her some critics. Her detractors were vociferous and some became quite unhinged. They attacked her grammar, her writing style and even claimed she never read the books (she did read the books, and was a natural speed reader according to her husband). Harriet herself seemed hurt by the accusations, but she never stopped reading or reviewing.
Although Amazon.com eventually changed the way it ranks book reviewers, Ms. Klausner still retains her title as Amazon's #1 Book Reviewer in its Hall of Fame. Some of the last books she reviewed include Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror by Kelly Armstrong, A Call to Arms (Manticore Ascendant) by David Weber and Devil of Delphi: A Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Mystery by Jeffrey Siger.