Are they treating the Ted Cruz book the same way they would treat a book by Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton?
It is absolutely true that famous or wealthy people can “stimulate” book sales, in various ways that don’t indicate accurately the popular interest in the book. So maybe they had reason to not trust the sales of the Ted Cruz book, “A Time for Truth.”
But I have a hard time believing the New York Times is treating the Ted Cruz book the same way they have treated a Barack Obama book or a Hillary Clinton book. According to Politico.com,
Cruz’s “A Time For Truth,” published on June 30, sold 11,854 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen Bookscan’s hardcover sale numbers. That’s more than 18 of the 20 titles that will appear on the bestseller list for the week ending July 4. Aziz Ansari’s “Modern Romance,” which is #2 on the list, sold fewer than 10,000 copies. Ann Coulter’s “Adios America,” at #11, sold just over half as many copies.
“A Time For Truth” has also sold more copies in a single week than Rand Paul’s “Taking a Stand,” which has been out for more than a month, and more than Marco Rubio’s “American Dreams,” which has been out for six months. It is currently #4 on the Wall Street Journal hardcover list, #4 on the Publisher’s Weekly hardcover list, #4 on the Bookscan hardcover list, and #1 on the Conservative Book Club list.
What I find interesting is that the lead sentence of the story makes you think that someone at the New York Times reached out to HarperCollins to explain the situation. But then, later in the story, you realize they simply ignored the book and only explained themselves (sort of) when the publisher asked about the exclusion:
This week, HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, sent a letter to The New York Times inquiring about Cruz’s omission from the list, sources with knowledge of the situation said. The Times responded by telling HarperCollins that the book did not meet their criteria for inclusion.
The New York Times claimed they had “uniform standards” for making these decisions in an objective way. But they didn’t provide any description of what those standards are. So HarperCollins asked for more information about these “uniform standards.” All they got by way of reply was, “we look at and analyze not just numbers, but patterns of sales for every book.”
HarperCollins has been in the book business for many years. The fact that they asked the New York Times what was going on suggests that they were surprised. I don’t know why they would be surprised except that the Times has decided to make new rules for the Ted Cruz book.
And that doesn’t surprise me at all.
Remember, being put on the list is a real boost to sales. Not only does it spread awareness of the book, but many bookstores offer automatic discounts of the bestsellers. So fewer people will buy “A Time for Truth” because of the New York Times’ exclusion.