Publisher accuses NYT of keeping Michael Knowles’ book on censorship off best seller list
Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF
- A major conservative book publisher accused the New York Times of purposefully excluding conservative author Michael Knowles’ book on censorship from its bestseller list Friday.
- “There are two kinds of best seller lists,” said Regnery publisher Tom Spence. “There are those that are based on the number of books that have been sold that week. And then there is the New York Times best seller list.”
- “The sales of the book did not meet the standards for inclusion this week,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, vice president of communications for the New York Times Company, told the DCNF Friday. “Our best sellers team will continue to track this title and will rank it, if its sales meet our standards for inclusion for future weeks.”
A major conservative book publisher accused the New York Times of purposefully excluding author Michael Knowles’ book on censorship from its best seller list Friday.
“There are two kinds of best seller lists,” Regnery publisher Tom Spence told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “There are those that are based on the number of books that have been sold that week. And then there is the New York Times best seller list.”
Knowles’ book “Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds,” published June 22, was the top of the Publisher’s Weekly bestseller list for the week ending June 26, but did not appear in the New York Times ranking of the top 15 best-selling nonfiction books released online Friday.
“It is our observation that the books that tend not to make it onto the Times list when you would expect that they would, tend to be books that are not congenial to the New York Times world view,” Spence added.
The Times denied allegations that it had purposefully excluded Knowles’ book from the list, noting that it had previously included other Regnery books on its list by Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas.
“The sales of the book did not meet the standards for inclusion this week,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, vice president of communications for the New York Times Company, told the DCNF Friday. “Our best sellers team will continue to track this title and will rank it, if its sales meet our standards for inclusion for future weeks.”
The Regnery publisher said that the Times best seller list typically resembles the highest selling books on Bookscan, which tracks retail book sales. Bookscan has been a reliable measure of retail book sales for the past 10 or 15 years, Spence said, adding that it gets more comprehensive each year.
“It’s pretty ridiculous,” Spence said. “We’ve had complaints with the Times over the years, where a book that sold a lot had a more modest ranking in the Times list. But I’m not sure if we’ve ever had one where it was the number one book in Bookscan and yet did not make the New York Times list at all. That’s pretty egregious.”
Glad to see Amazon has finally acknowledged my role as the nation's preeminent civil rights leader.
— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) June 29, 2021
Publishers Weekly numbers, using Bookscan, show that “Speechless” sold 17,587 copies in its first week, more than Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s new book “Killing the Mob: The Fight Against Organized Crime in America,” which was the top-selling book on the New York Times’ list for hardcover nonfiction.
The NYT best-seller list is a misnomer and a joke. When @JCNSeverino and I had #1 book in the country, they ranked us in a non-#1 slot. But congrats to @michaeljknowles for "Speechless," the top selling book in the country that the NYT is clearly scared of! https://t.co/fBBGKDqwgL
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) July 2, 2021
The Times’ methodology for ranking best sellers emphasizes that it tracks book sales from a wide variety of retailers across the country. The sales the Times tracks are “statistically weighted to represent and accurately reflect all outlets proportionally nationwide,” according to the methodology.
Spence compared the process to selective or political polling in which the Times chooses samples they think are “representative” from certain selective bookstores.
“Gallup doesn’t go out and ask every single person in America how they are going to work, they select samples they think are representative,” Spence said. “And that’s what the NYT list is. They get sales reports from certain selective bookstores. They keep it a secret though, who they are.”
“Why they included them but not Michael Knowles’ book is a mystery to me,” the publisher said of the Times’ reference to Hawley and Cruz. “The fact that they did not censor or discriminate against a conservative book in one case doesn’t mean that they haven’t done it in this case. The omission of the Michael Knowles book from the list is so crazy that it seems to me they owe their readers some explanation.”
Spence said that there is a possibility that the book may not have made the list because of “some crazy technical error.”
“It seems like something they should explain,” he added.