Ted Cruz’ Bestselling Book Not on Bestseller List

The NYT has left Ted Cruz' new book off its bestseller list, despite it selling more copies than 18 of 20 titles on said list.

The NYT has left Ted Cruz’ new book off its bestseller list, despite it selling more copies than 18 of 20 titles on said list.

Politico’s Dylan Byers (“N.Y. Times keeps Cruz off bestseller list“):

The New York Times informed HarperCollins this week that it will not include Ted Cruz’s new biography on its forthcoming bestsellers list, despite the fact that the book has sold more copies in its first week than all but two of the Times’ bestselling titles, the On Media blog has learned.

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.

That’s fairly impressive. So, why the omission? Initially, NYT was cagey:

“We have uniform standards that we apply to our best seller list, which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold,” Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy explained when asked about the omission. “This book didn’t meet that standard this week.”

Asked to specify those standards, Murphy replied: “Our goal is that the list reflect authentic best sellers, so we look at and analyze not just numbers, but patterns of sales for every book.”

That’s not exactly transparent. Finally, they came clean:

“In the case of this book, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence was that sales were limited to strategic bulk purchases,” she wrote.

Presumably, then, the sales are mostly driven by interest groups who then distribute the book for free. If that’s the case, that raises questions about conflicts of interest. The House of Representatives banned that practice two decades ago after a series of scandals. The Senate’s rules on book sales aren’t public. Hillary Clinton came under heavy scrutiny back in 2001 for an $8 million advance for her tell-all book; the Senate Ethics Committee ultimately approved the transaction.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Faux outrage. Apparently, these lists all have their own criteria for ranking.

    BTW, on Amazon, the book is #11 for new releases and #48 for best sellers. This is based on actual sales.

  2. libsick says:

    both of obma’s “best sellers” achieved this status due to massive bulk buys. but what’s good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander. typical liberal hypocrites.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    @libsick:
    Got proof?

  4. Tony W says:

    @libsick: BS. I can’t remember the last time I was in somebody’s home and they didn’t have a copy of “Dreams from my Father” on the shelf. People buy the thing and they read it. That book came out years before he was a potential candidate for President.

    If you’re looking to slam Democrats, a better comparison would be Hillary’s publishing schedule.

  5. Cd6 says:

    I think it’s worth ointing out that the biggest purchaser of these books was most likely Ted Cruzs own super pac So they could hand the book out, send it to whoever donates, allow them to call Cruz a bestseller, and ultimately, help put more money in his pocket, since that’s what this whole thing is about anyway

  6. michael reynolds says:

    The NYT list is not based on Bookscan numbers – Bookscan being the sort of all-inclusive database – it’s based on so-called ‘reporting bookstores.’ Various book stores around the country report to the NYT on their sales. Using some formula we are not meant to understand, the NYT formulates its list.

    This is why we writers are sent on book tour – we’re all trying to spoof the NYT list. We of course know the ‘reporting’ stores, so we all hustle around to kiss their butts and sit at their sad little card tables and sign three books. If it’s done right you show enough of a blip to make the list, which pushes you to the front of the bookstores.

  7. IanY77 says:

    Glad the NYT is finally calling this garbage out. It was just another version of wingnut welfare.

  8. ernieyeball says:

    Well, Rough and Ready Teddy could use the method approved by his conservative compadre Huckleberry “The Huckster” Huckabee. Just threaten to shoot citizens who don’t read his book.

    …all Americans would be forced, forced — at gun point no less — to listen to every David Barton message…I wish it’d happen

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/03/31/154984/mike-huckabee-david-barton/

  9. al-Ameda says:

    Regardless of this completely contrived ‘outrage’ ….
    It won’t be long before we see Ted’s book selling for $3.99 in the remaindered tables at Barnes & Noble or CostCo.

  10. mantis says:

    I think it’s worth ointing out that the biggest purchaser of these books was most likely Ted Cruzs own super pac

    What a nice racket. Get your super pac to bulk buy your book and a portion of the sale goes right into your pocket.

  11. CSK says:

    Presumably the pac or pacs that bought bulk copies–and I’m sure they did–would have to report this expenditure to the FEC.

    The official publication date of this book (which is meaningless in terms of availability; books are in the stores well before that unless they’ve been embargoed) was June 30, which is, of course, the same day the FEC quarterly filing is due. I wonder if that was calculated?

  12. bill says:

    from npr;

    However, HarperCollins, in a statement provided to BuzzFeed, insists that it has “no evidence of bulk orders or sales through any retailer or organization.”

    @C. Clavin: a quick google…..

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/oct/25/state-department-buys-70000-worth-obama-memoir/?page=all

  13. mantis says:

    @bill:

    Both of Obama’s books were very successful bestsellers years before he was elected president and the State Department bought copies for their embassies and libraries around the world. Try again.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    It looks to me as if Ted’s book probably just didn’t hit the NYT list and that the accusation of bulk purchases was speculative. As mentioned above, every list has different criteria. It’s not unusual that a book that might hit #4 or #7 one one list drops off the top ten on another.

  15. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: So, the guy who actually writes books and goes on book tours is telling us that there may not actually be a story here at all? I’ll go with that analysis.

  16. bill says:

    @mantis: oh stop it, he sold books after getting the nod for president. “after”, as in nobody cares about the first book if he doesn’t become popular.
    so he got rich off his own popularity- that’s an approved democrat way i assume?

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker:

    I mean, if Cruz’s book was number 1 on the WaPo and the WSJ list, or in Bookscan numbers, and didn’t show at all on the NYT, maybe you could make a case. But it’s nowhere near that clear. The NYT list is in effect a poll of booksellers.

    I was once in the back of a bookstore and I had my son with me. He turns to me and points mutely at something tacked up on a cork board. It’s the access codes for reporting to the NYT. Later he ran down for me just how we could go about spoofing the system to hit the list. I resisted. Because, um, I have morals? Or possibly because I worried I might get caught? No, let’s go with morals.

    By the way, no major business I’ve ever heard of has less rational data than publishing. It’s about 1960 in the publishing world. Publishers have almost literally no data on their end users, the retail buyer. Really. As in they literally DO NOT KNOW the gender, age or race of people who buy a given type of book.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    On a bit of a tangent: What political books have actually been worth a read? I used to buy all of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s books when he was my US Senator. This was long before the current Web culture and he really really said some stuff in those books. In one (“Loyalties”?) he outlined the division of judgeships in downstate NY to the Jewish, Puerto Rican and Italian blocks and how changing demographics threw a monkey wrench into it and how the various party leaders and activists responded to it. He named names, or at least named positions so anyone could look it up.

    A brilliant individual such as he must have been torn up as he gradually realized just how powerless a Senator was to push forward policy. And I’m sure he saw the irony in that there was virtually nothing he could say on the things he really cared about that would a) cause action or b) cause offense. When it came to the parochial interests of NYS he was too powerful and too important for anyone to care when he actually started talking about something other than those immediate interests. In those days on the chessboard of national politics the President was the king. i.e. no real power but endless watched and discussed. And, as far as their states were concerned, US Senators were like a pair of Queens, immensely powerful and useful in the all important horse trading, able to strengthen or destroy as need be, but no one cared about them outside of that deal making.

  19. MarkedMan says:

    Oh, and if I remember correctly, the reason the NYT list discounts the sales of certain books is the Scientology influence. The “religion” used to bulk buy L. Ron Hubbards books so as to get them on the best seller list. The NYT bookstores were tipped off when the shipments of ‘new’ books they received to replace those that were ‘flying off the shelves’ had price tags already on them – from the book store ordering the books. In other words, the Scientologists were going into stores identified as NYTimes book list reporters, buying all the L. Ron Hubbard inventory, then putting them back into boxes and shipping them out again as new.

  20. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @michael reynolds:

    By the way, no major business I’ve ever heard of has less rational data than publishing. It’s about 1960 in the publishing world. Publishers have almost literally no data on their end users, the retail buyer. Really. As in they literally DO NOT KNOW the gender, age or race of people who buy a given type of book.

    Now this sounds like an interesting story!

    @MarkedMan: That’s really clever (and sounds a lot like Hubbard based on an authorized biographical sketch that I read)! I take it that Scientology was operating it’s own publishing house?