On Thursday The Federalist posted an article about The New York Times best seller list. It seems that the list is not as straight forward as it should be.
The article reports:
The New York Times fudged book sales data in order to deny top-five billing to the best-selling “Justice on Trial,” the definitive and deeply reported account of the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which was written by Carrie Severino and Mollie Hemingway, a Senior Editor for The Federalist. Industry sales figures show that the New York Times ignored actual data on nationwide sales in order to depress the rankings not just for the Hemingway/Severino book, but also Mark Levin’s latest book on the corruption of modern journalism.
According to Publisher’s Weekly, the only public source of point-of-sale data on book sales, “Justice on Trial,” was the top-selling non-fiction book published over the last week. Tara Westover’s blockbuster memoir “Educated” was the top-selling non-fiction overall according to data from NPD Bookscan, but is excluded from Publisher’s Weekly’s list since it was first published over a year ago.
Mark Levin’s “Unfreedom of the Press” came in at #2 on the best-selling list, followed by David McCullough’s “The Pioneers” at #3, “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo at #4, and Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” at #5. Hemingway’s and Severino’s book outsold each of those books placed ahead of it on the New York Times list, according to nationwide sales data.
Amazon.com, the online retail giant, reported that “Justice on Trial” was also the top-selling non-fiction book on its site last week. It was Amazon’s top-selling book overall, non-fiction or otherwise, from Monday through Friday of last week.
The New York Times, however, reported a very different ranking at complete odds with the Publisher’s Weekly/NPD Bookscan sales figures. Instead of accurately reporting that “Justice on Trial” was the second best-selling hardcover non-fiction book in America last week according to widely accepted industry sales data, the New York Times put the book at #6 on its list, behind Mark Levin’s book at #5. Neither ranking can be justified by actual sales figures.
The article concludes:
Rather than collecting nationwide data on book sales across all platforms and locations, the New York Times reportedly surveys only select retailers, the identities of which the paper refuses to disclose.
In a 2007 column, former public editor Clark Hoyt all but admitted that the New York Times Best Seller list was fake news.
The list “is not a completely accurate barometer of what the reading public is buying,” Hoyt wrote. “For my money, if the main list is a best sellers list, it ought to reflect what’s selling best.”
So I guess The New York Times best seller list is about as accurate as the rest of their reporting.