The ideological war between conservatives and the mainstream media is expanding to hitherto uncontested territory, with the declaration of hostilities against that iconic arbiter of literary success, The New York Times' Best-Seller list.
Conservative publisher Regnery Publishing, whose imprints include authors like Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Ann Coulter, announced this week that it is effectively boycotting the NYT Best-Seller list. Regnery alleges that the left-leaning newspaper is (literally) cooking the books by discriminating against authors with right-wing viewpoints.
Regnery claims the newspaper is deliberately excluding or bumping their titles down the list, even when they have achieved the necessary sales benchmarks.
Regnery specifically called out the NYT's Best-Seller list for failing to give a top ranking to “The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left,” by high-profile conservative pundit and polemicist Dinesh D’Souza. In fact, Regnery claims, the Best-Seller list initially ignored “The Big Lie” and only grudgingly gave it a seventh-place ranking after it leapt to the top of another well-known list, Nielsen BookScan.
According to Regnery, the NYT initially ranked “The Big Lie,” which sold at least 10,000 copies a week since July 31, below a number of books with less than half as many sales during that period. Regnery also alleges the NYT bumped down another book, titled “No Go Zones: How Sharia Law is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You.”
As part of its boycott, Regnery said it would no longer allow authors to bill themselves as “NYT best sellers” on the front covers or promotional blurbs for their books. The publisher will also stop including bonuses for appearing on the list as incentives in author contracts.
Instead of citing the NYT's Best-Seller list, Regnery will henceforth refer to Publisher’s Weekly figures, also based on Nielsen BookScan, in promotional materials.
In response to Regnery’s boycott announcement, NYT spokesman Jordan Cohen told the Associated Press: “Our goal is that the lists reflect authentic best sellers. The political views of authors have no bearing on our rankings, and the notion that we would manipulate the lists to exclude books for political reasons is simply ludicrous.”
Nielsen BookScan tallies book sales based on sales through stores and online outlets, including Amazon, that altogether account for around 85% of the market. The NYT's Best-Seller list is similarly broad-based, but it’s not clear whether the two lists compile sales figures from the same outlets, or with what degree of overlap.
Traditionally, the Best-Seller list has been a favorite bête noire of publishers and authors of all ideological stripes, giving rise to frequent complaints that it leaves off books that should have appeared on the list, generally with no explanation and no redress. The newspaper does not print corrections or revised versions of the list.
The Best-Seller list has been
published in the NYT since October 12, 1931.