TH E BULLETIN• SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2012
Timothy Ferriss has been criticized for soliciting his social media followers for favorable reviews of his book"The 4-Hour Chef." Some of his early reviews were written
Heart Continued from A1 But Lindsey is pushing the limits of the patient-specific protocol. They did a test to see how far she could walk in 15 minutes. (There and back would meet that 30-minute limit off battery power.) "We walked clear to the other side (of the hospital) and it was only nine minutes," Jason said. N ow Lindsey i s O K t o walk to the Stanford Hospital (which is connected to Lucile
by people who admitted they had not read the book but were giving it five
stars anyway. Drew Kelly New York Times New Service
Reviews Continued from A1 Does a groundswell of raves for a big new book mean anything if the author is soliciting the comments'? In a debate percolating on blogs and on Amazon itself, quite a few w r i ters take a permissive view on these issues. The mystery novelist J.A. Konrath, for e x ample, does not see anything wrong with an author indulging in chicanery. "Customer buys book because of fake review
(EQUAL) zero harm," he wrote on his blog. Some readers differ.An ad hoc group of purists has formed on Amazon to track its most prominent reviewer, Harriet Klausner, who has more than 25,000 reviews. They do not see how she can read so much so fast or why her reviews are overwhelmingly
— and, they say, misleadingly
a longtime fan of her work. "How does Amazon know we know each other?" she said. "That's where I started to get creeped out." Robertson suggested that A mazon applied a br o a d brush. "I believe they caught a lot of shady reviews, but a lot of innocent ones were erased, too," he said. He figures the deleted reviews number in the thousands, or perhaps even 10,000.
"They have more hallways and more things to look at. It's opening her world up a bit," Jason said. "You can only walk the same hallways so many times without going nuts." S he especially likes t h e Stanford gift shop. "It has a lot of different gifts
than the Lucile Packard one," Stacy said. Physically, L i n dsey i s strong, which will be good for the transplant and recovery. "She's exactly where they want her," Jason said. She's gained 17 pounds, mostly due to the 1400 mL "feeds" she receives at night through a feeding tube. "She needs those reserves," Jason said. And for now, they wait. But just as Lindsey's condition is somewhat stable, the Binghams worry about their other children, who all have shown signs of heart trouble. Gage, 4, has dilated cardiomyopathy, the same condition as Lindsey. He now has an internal pacemaker and is on medication. Sierra, 13, had the same disease, and she received a heart transplant in 2006.
Megan and Hunter have heart irregularities. So far, genetic testing is inconclusive, and tests for environmental causes have come up negative — all of which is frustrating for the parents. "What can be causing this'?" Jason said. "We tested (the water) with every test we could come up with." Although they miss their home and the laid-back life of Eastern Oregon, the Binghams say they have experienced many kindnesses in California. "The California people are really taking care of us," Jason said. A local attorney has offered him office space, and the church andschool offer many activities for the kids.
"Things are really going
at school and the community has been really supportive, she said. Both Jason and Stacy emphasize how appreciative they are of all the support — fundraisers in Oregon and Logan, Utah, where Stacy grew up, as well as cards, prayers and comments on their blog. They have no way of knowing about every donation made to the L indsey Lou H eart Fund — and many come from strangers who are touched by the story. "Through all this, the biggest thing I've learned is humility," Stacy said. "It's hard for us to accept help from other people — we've always taken care of ourselves. It's amazing how many giving people are out there — we know we're loved."
well," Stacy said. The kids are making friends
— Reporter: lbritton® bakercityherald.com
An ongoing debate The explosion of reviews for "The 4-Hour Chef" by Timothy Ferriss shows how the system has evolved from something spontaneous to a means of marketing and promotion. On Nov. 20, publication day, dozens of highly favorable reviews immediately sprouted. Other reviewers quickly criticized Ferriss, accusing him of
buying supporters. He laughed off those sugges-
— exaltations. "Everyone in t h i s g r o up will tell you t hat we've all been duped into buying books based on her reviews," said Margie Brown, a retired city clerk from Arizona.
tions. "Not only would I never do that — it's unethical — I simply don't have to," he wrote in an email, saying he had sent several hundred review copies to fans and potential fans. "Does that stack the deck? Perhaps, but why send the Reviews play a crucial role book to someone who would Once a populist gimmick, hate it'? That doesn't help anythe reviews are vital to making one: not the reader, nor the sure a new product is not lost writer." in the digital wilderness. AmaAs a demonstration of sozon has refined the reviewing cial media's grip on reviewprocess over the years, giving ing, Ferriss used Twitter and customers the opportunity to Facebook to ask for a review. rate reviews and comment on "Rallying m y r e aders," he them. It is layer after layer of called it. Within an hour, 61 possible criticism. had complied. "A not-insubstantial chunk A few of his early reviews of their infrastructure is based were written by people who on their reviews — and all of admitted they had not read the that depends on having re- book but were giving it five views customers can trust," stars anyway because, well, said Edward Robertson, a sci- they knew it would be terrific. ence fiction novelist who has "I am looking forward to readwatched the debate closely. ing this," wrote a user posting Nowhere are reviews more under the name mhpics. crucial than with books, an inA spokesman for Amazon, dustry in which Amazon cap- which published "The 4-Hour tures nearlya third of every Chef," offered this sole comdollar spent. It values reviews ment for this article: "We do more than other online book- not require people to have exsellers like Apple or Barnes 8c periencedthe product in order Noble, featuring them promi- to review." nently and using them to help The dispute over reviews is decide which books to acquire playing out in the discontent for its own imprints by its rela- over Klausner, an A m azon tively new publishing arm. Hall of Fame reviewer for the So writers have naturally last 11 years and undoubtedly been vying to get more, and one of the most prolific reviewbetter, notices. ers in literary history. Several mystery w r i ters, Klausner published review including R.J. Ellory, Stephen No. 28,366, for "A Red Sun Leather and John Locke, have Also Rises" by Mark Hodder. recently confessed to various A lmost immediately, it h ad forms of manipulation under nine critical comments. The the generalcategory of "sock first accused it of being "ridpuppets," or online identities dled with errors in grammar, used to deceive. spelling an d p u n ctuation." That resulted in a w i dely The rest were no more kind. circulated petition by a loose T he Harriet K l ausner A p coalition of writers under the preciation Society had struck banner, "No Sock Puppets again. Here Please," asking people Klausner, a 60-year-old reto "vote for book reviews you tired librarian who lives in Atcan trust." lanta, has published an averIn explaining its purge of re- age of seven reviews a day for views, Amazon has told some more than a decade. "To watch writers that "we do not allow her in action is unbelievable," reviews on behalf of a person said her h usband, Stanley. or company with a financial "You see the pages turning." interest in the product or a K lausner, who s ay s a i l directly competing product. ments keep her home and inThis includes authors." But somnia keepsher up, scoffs at writers say that rule is not ap- her critics. "You ever read a Harlequin plied consistently. In some cases, the ax fell on romance?" she said. "You can those with a direct relation- finish it in one hour. I've alship with the author. ways been a speed reader." "My sister's and best friend's She has a message for her reviews were removed from naysayers: "Get a life. Read a my books," the author M.E. book." Franco said in a b log comThe c a m paign a g a i nst ment. "Theyhappen to be two Klausner has pushed down of my biggest fans." Another her reviewer ratings, which in writer, V alerie A r m strong, theory makes her less influsaid her son's five-star review ential. But when everything is of her book, "The Survival subject to review, the battle is of the Fattest," was removed. never-ending. He immediately tried to put Ragan Buckley, an aspirit back "and it wouldn't take," ing novelist active in the camshe wrote. paign against Klausner under In other cases, though, the the name "Sneaky Burrito," is relationship was moretenuous. a little weary. "There are so many fake reMichelle Gagnon lost three reviews on her young adult novel views that I'm often better off "Don't Turn Around." She said just walking into a physical she did not know two of the store and picking an item off reviewers, while the third was the shelf at random," she said.
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The Bulletin Daily print edition for Sunday December 23, 2012