Reporters Alexandra Alter and Nicholas Confessore allege that following the release of the book, which they describe as a “broad attack on his critics, Democrats and the news media,” there was much “debate over how and why it had claimed the No. 1 spot.”
For years conservatives have complained the list is a “fraud” that heavily favors books by liberal authors, and it’s likely that this “self-reflective” article feeds that narrative, especially as the reporters note that Jr. “had gotten a boost from his father’s Twitter feed and from the Republican National Committee.” They claim the RNC paid nearly $100,000 to purchase a large number of copies to sell specifically to their base. This is reflected by “a tiny dagger symbol that appeared next to the title on the list” that is used to indicate bulk purchases.
“Of the 10 nonfiction hardcover titles currently on The Times’s best-seller list, ‘Triggered’ is the only one featuring that symbol,” the article notes, sounding suspiciously like a whining child crying “that’s not fair” after losing a game they expected to win.
But RNC spokesperson Mike Reed simply stated that they “haven’t made a large bulk purchase, but are ordering copies to keep up with demand,” as the book was anticipated to sell like wildfire upon its release. (And it did, hence the number one spot.)
In a note that casts doubt on the legitimacy and integrity of their own bestseller list, the authors go on to say that it’s impossible to know “how many copies of Mr. Trump’s book were sold through bulk orders, whether to the R.N.C. or other groups.” Alter and Confessore even go on to admit that The New York Times “does not disclose the methodology behind its best-seller lists,” and that while the dagger symbol denotes that “some bookstores reported bulk sales,” it implies that not all bookstores are required to report bulk buys.
The article goes on to claim that while it is fairly common for political groups (the Republican Party being specifically named) to purchase a large number of books to sell to their base, this particular instance is strange because the book was authored by “a candidate’s son who isn’t a politician and isn’t running for office.”
But as noted earlier, conservatives have held a long-standing grudge against The New York Times bestseller list for exactly the reason that Alter and Confessore published in their article, the methodology behind the list is unknown even to their own employees, it seems.
As BizPac Review‘s Samantha Chang reported in 2017, top conservative publisher Regnery cut all ties with The New York Times, with president Marji Ross releasing a statement claiming “[t]he Times’ list does not represent national sales of conservative books as accurately as other widely-published bestseller lists. Therefore, we will no longer promote, publicize or frankly even bother to mention this list.”
Her statement went on to say that the company “will continue to track sales, as a large number of media groups do, through Nielsen’s BookScan report, and we will use the Publisher’s Weekly bestseller list as our benchmark.”
The lack of transparency in the process has been a problem for the right-leaning crowd for some time, but now that the paper’s own staff have been confronted with this issue, perhaps something will be done about it.
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