Originally posted at LifeZette by Edmund Kozak.
Regnery Publishing announced Tuesday that it has officially severed its relationship with The New York Times best seller list due to the once-respected newspaper’s manipulation of the list itself.
“Increasingly, it appears that ‘The Times’ has gathered book sale data in a manner which prioritizes liberal-themed books over conservative books and authors,” wrote Marji Ross, president and publisher of Regnery, in a letter to the company’s authors, sent on Monday.
“The net result has been a best seller list that has increasingly become less relevant to the Regnery audience, and less reflective of which books are actually selling best in the country, regardless of one’s political persuasion,” Ross’ letter continued.
Regnery’s decision comes in the wake of The New York Times manipulating the list in order to make Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book, The Big Lie, seem less successful than it really is.
“That’s the most recent example, and it’s a particularly egregious one,” Ross told LifeZette.
“Two weeks in a row in August, ‘The Big Lie’ outsold every other book on ‘The New York Times’ best seller list, according to [Nielsen] BookScan,” she said. “As far as we were concerned, it should have been number one, [but] one week it was number seven, one week it was number eight.”
“Too often we see what we saw yet again this week: a conservative book that sold more than 12,000 copies—more than any other book on’The Times’ list—placed at number seven, while Al Franken’s book, which sold 7,600, listed at number three,” Ross’ Sunday letter stated.
D’Souza agreed with Regnery that The Times seemed to manipulate the list to downplay his book’s success.
“Over the last four weeks, according to BookScan data, I should have been number two, number one, number one, and number two [respectively] … but according to ‘The New York Times’ I was number seven, number eight, number seven, and number 10,” he told Lifezette.
“We’re not talking about a small discrepancy, where I should be one but they make me two or I should be two and they put me at three,” D’Souza said. “We’re talking about the fact that ‘The New York Times’ takes books that have sold one half of my numbers on a weekly basis and puts them ahead of mine.”
D’Souza stressed, “This, for me, is not in any sense sour grapes because the vast majority of my books have been ‘New York Times’ best sellers. Out of the last four books I have published, three of them went to number one, so this is not a case of some author who can’t get on the list complaining—this is a case of someone who’s been on the list many, many times recognizing that this is not a real list.”
Ross confirmed with LifeZette that the egregious manipulation of the position of D’Souza’s book was indeed the last straw, and not the sole cause of Regnery’s decision.
“We have noticed it for several years, so it’s not a new phenomenon,” she said. “One of the developments that happened is that BookScan was, of course, launched back in 2001, and then as it’s grown to capture more and more of the actual sales across the country, it’s been frankly easier to see when there’s a discrepancy between what’s selling and what The New York Times says is selling.”
And while The Times treatment of D’Souza’s book was “particularly egregious,” it is not, said Ross, “an isolated incident.”
“In fact, the same week that that happened with the D’Souza book, we had another book—’No Go Zones’ by Raheem Kassam—which, according to BookScan, should have ranked number 10 on ‘The New York Times’ list, but it didn’t appear at all,” Ross said. “There were 15 books on the list—the bottom five all sold fewer, according to BookScan, than Raheem’s book, and his book wasn’t even on the list.”
“Hard data like that of ‘Publishers Weekly’ and Nielsen BookScan gives pause when reviewing ‘The New York Times’ list,” Kassam said in a statement sent to LifeZette. “They freely admit they don’t use hard data, but rather ‘survey’ a select list of retailers, many of them liberal, independent stores. Much like polling, the NYT is weighting against middle or conservative America.”
“Amazon makes a computer calibration of book sales, which fluctuate periodically, and their list reflects that, and ‘Publishers Weekly’ relies straight on the BookScan data, so these are actually tabulating real sales,” noted D’Souza.
But The New York Times‘ “justification for their sphinx-like list is that if they tell you which bookstores they’re sampling then people can make bulk orders from those book stores and manipulate the list,” he said. “They’re using the pretext of bulk orders to essentially create a mystical list based on a sampling of their selected bookstores, which they don’t reveal, and the result as we know is that it’s not a real list.”
“Of course the NYT won’t tell anyone what their secret formula is for calculating their best seller list,” echoed Ross. “It’s pretty tough to have any sensible argument about it when there’s no transparency, and it’s certainly easy to manipulate the formula if you don’t tell anyone what it is.”
Ross also said that The New York Times manipulation of its list “certainly looks like it’s a part of that larger trend” to silence and censor conservative voices, and she criticized The Times‘ unconvincing defense of its partisan practices. “They’ve said that my claim is baseless because ‘look at all the conservative books that appear on the list.’ Well, that’s just silly.”
“That’s like a casino saying that the blackjack table isn’t set up to favor the house winning just because, you know, ‘look at all these people who come in and win.’ Just because you have conservative books and authors doesn’t prove that the best-sellers list is accurate,” she said.
“And honestly, in the end, it is a matter of accuracy, and for us it’s a matter of principle. We don’t want to tell the NYT what to put on the best seller list. We don’t think the editorial board of The New York Times should tell the list what to put there, either,” said Ross. “And it’s certainly not limited to Regnery authors and books. This has happened to Mark Levin, this has happened to Bill O’Reilly, this happened to Milo [Yiannopoulos].”
“We are often told it’s foolish to bite the hand that feeds you. I say it’s just as foolish to feed the hand that bites you,” wrote Ross in the closing of her letter to Regnery’s stable of authors. “As for the Gray Lady, the time has come to say: ‘This Emperor has no clothes.'”
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