NYT bestseller list takes a huge blow as major publisher pulls out

Another pillar of the left's ability to dominate American culture is getting shaky.

For generations, stickers with the four little words "New York Times bestseller," applied to the cover of a book were regarded as gold.  In my decades of flying around as a consultant, many were the occasions when they helped me pick one or another last-minute pre-boarding book (perhaps some mind candy from the mysteries section for a long flight, I confess).

The Times remains mysterious about the methodology behind its list, raising legitimate suspicions.  Nonetheless, the value of the brand has been enormous. The publishing industry has ratified that value by sometimes including bonus payments, a bump in the royalty percentage, perhaps, into contracts with authors.  This arrangement opened the door to outsized influence on the mentality of authors and publishers.  If pleasing the mindset of those who compile the list is rewarded, authors, agents, and publishers would repeat the behavior that gets reinforced, like lab rats pushing the levers to get those pellets.

Now, this last vestige of the former power and glory of the New York Times is starting to crumble.  Cheryl K. Chumley writes an opinion piece for the Washington Times:

Regnery, the nation's premier publisher of conservative books, has cut ties with The New York Times over long-simmering allegations the newspaper took a decided left-leaning slant in picking which books to feature on its best-seller lists.

Good for Regnery. It's like the toppling off ABC, NBC and CBS during the dawn of CNN and FOX – only Part 2.

Going forward, Regnery will rely on Publishers Weekly lists to determine best-seller status, and will no longer allow authors to self-identify with The New York Times list, or distribute bonuses based on the newspaper's determinations.

"Increasingly, it appears that the Times has gathered book sale data in a manner which prioritizes liberal-themed books over conservative books and authors," Regnery President Marji Ross said in a company press release. ...

Regnery alleges its recent book, "The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left," a Dinesh D'Souza title that was published in late July, made The New York Times best-seller list at No. 7 – despite beating all 15 books on the list in total sales. And the company's "No Go Zones: How Sharia Law is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You," by Raheen Kassam, didn't even place on The New York Times list, despite having the 10th highest sales of the other 15 books noted by the paper.

The Times naturally denies allegations of bias and says it interviews stores about actual sales.  I am not certain who still buys books in a bookstore, but the surviving brick-and-mortar outlets occupy a declining niche in the market.  I know that if I wanted to browse around see the latest conservative books, the last place I'd expect to see them featured would be a local bookseller or Barnes and Noble.  Every time radio hosts Michael Savage and Mark Levin publish one of their bestsellers, I seem to recall listeners calling in with tales of covers turned the wrong direction, or conservative authors relegated to the children's fiction section and the like.  Never mind doubts about which bookstores the Times calls up.

Chumley ridicules (Alinsky's fifth rule) the denial of bias from the Times:

"The political views of authors have no bearing on our rankings," The New York Times spokesman Jordan Cohen told The Associated Press.

And if Cohen stopped there, perhaps lingering doubts about the validity of Regnery's claim could be forgiven. Perhaps the newspaper's explanation could be seen as sensible – that New York Times' listers were simply trying to obtain the most accurate information possible.

But Cohen blew it by adding this: "The notion that we would manipulate the lists to exclude books for political reasons is simply ludicrous."

Right. 'Cause the New York Times would never do anything for political reasons, right? Not even skew political coverage during presidential campaign season – to the point where the publisher and executive editor had to take the unprecedented action of penning a letter to readers, post-voting, to do some damage control on all the anti-Donald Trump reporting.

Sorry, New York Times. The smart money ain't buying that "ludicrous" argument.

This boycott by the largest conservative publishing house has a chance of spreading to conservative authors publishing elsewhere.  Conservative book-buyers for the most part already disrespect the Times, so the possibility exists of the bestseller sticker becoming anathema for them, once word of the boycott spreads.

And that inevitably damages the credibility of the four little words generally.  It means that the sticker comes to represent the tastes of a subculture within the book-buying universe and is not an indicator of national popularity.

Another pillar of the left's ability to dominate American culture is getting shaky.

For generations, stickers with the four little words "New York Times bestseller," applied to the cover of a book were regarded as gold.  In my decades of flying around as a consultant, many were the occasions when they helped me pick one or another last-minute pre-boarding book (perhaps some mind candy from the mysteries section for a long flight, I confess).

The Times remains mysterious about the methodology behind its list, raising legitimate suspicions.  Nonetheless, the value of the brand has been enormous. The publishing industry has ratified that value by sometimes including bonus payments, a bump in the royalty percentage, perhaps, into contracts with authors.  This arrangement opened the door to outsized influence on the mentality of authors and publishers.  If pleasing the mindset of those who compile the list is rewarded, authors, agents, and publishers would repeat the behavior that gets reinforced, like lab rats pushing the levers to get those pellets.

Now, this last vestige of the former power and glory of the New York Times is starting to crumble.  Cheryl K. Chumley writes an opinion piece for the Washington Times:

Regnery, the nation's premier publisher of conservative books, has cut ties with The New York Times over long-simmering allegations the newspaper took a decided left-leaning slant in picking which books to feature on its best-seller lists.

Good for Regnery. It's like the toppling off ABC, NBC and CBS during the dawn of CNN and FOX – only Part 2.

Going forward, Regnery will rely on Publishers Weekly lists to determine best-seller status, and will no longer allow authors to self-identify with The New York Times list, or distribute bonuses based on the newspaper's determinations.

"Increasingly, it appears that the Times has gathered book sale data in a manner which prioritizes liberal-themed books over conservative books and authors," Regnery President Marji Ross said in a company press release. ...

Regnery alleges its recent book, "The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left," a Dinesh D'Souza title that was published in late July, made The New York Times best-seller list at No. 7 – despite beating all 15 books on the list in total sales. And the company's "No Go Zones: How Sharia Law is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You," by Raheen Kassam, didn't even place on The New York Times list, despite having the 10th highest sales of the other 15 books noted by the paper.

The Times naturally denies allegations of bias and says it interviews stores about actual sales.  I am not certain who still buys books in a bookstore, but the surviving brick-and-mortar outlets occupy a declining niche in the market.  I know that if I wanted to browse around see the latest conservative books, the last place I'd expect to see them featured would be a local bookseller or Barnes and Noble.  Every time radio hosts Michael Savage and Mark Levin publish one of their bestsellers, I seem to recall listeners calling in with tales of covers turned the wrong direction, or conservative authors relegated to the children's fiction section and the like.  Never mind doubts about which bookstores the Times calls up.

Chumley ridicules (Alinsky's fifth rule) the denial of bias from the Times:

"The political views of authors have no bearing on our rankings," The New York Times spokesman Jordan Cohen told The Associated Press.

And if Cohen stopped there, perhaps lingering doubts about the validity of Regnery's claim could be forgiven. Perhaps the newspaper's explanation could be seen as sensible – that New York Times' listers were simply trying to obtain the most accurate information possible.

But Cohen blew it by adding this: "The notion that we would manipulate the lists to exclude books for political reasons is simply ludicrous."

Right. 'Cause the New York Times would never do anything for political reasons, right? Not even skew political coverage during presidential campaign season – to the point where the publisher and executive editor had to take the unprecedented action of penning a letter to readers, post-voting, to do some damage control on all the anti-Donald Trump reporting.

Sorry, New York Times. The smart money ain't buying that "ludicrous" argument.

This boycott by the largest conservative publishing house has a chance of spreading to conservative authors publishing elsewhere.  Conservative book-buyers for the most part already disrespect the Times, so the possibility exists of the bestseller sticker becoming anathema for them, once word of the boycott spreads.

And that inevitably damages the credibility of the four little words generally.  It means that the sticker comes to represent the tastes of a subculture within the book-buying universe and is not an indicator of national popularity.

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