A book sales controversy might be the ultimate in inside baseball for fans of politics, but when it comes to Dennis Prager’s current dust-up with The New York Times, it’s mainstream media bias in action.
The veteran conservative commentator, syndicated columnist and author of numerous books about life, faith and the human condition is no stranger to commercial success and his latest effort, “The Rational Bible,” is well on its way to the kind of success Prager’s previous works have enjoyed.
But the editors behind one extremely influential book standard don’t see it that way — and Prager is calling them out on it.
In the book publishing industry, the label of “New York Times bestseller” is a coveted marketing tool that serves as a guarantee of popularity and readability.
But according to Prager and numerous other conservatives familiar with the business, The Times list is also hopelessly biased based on political prejudices, no matter how much it tries to deny it.
His campaign started with an April 17 column describing how his book, which opened as Amazon’s No. 2 bestselling book in America failed to even register on The Times list.
“The book … was No. 2 in nonfiction on Wall Street Journal best-seller list; No. 2 on the Publishers Weekly nonfiction best-seller list; No. 1 on Ingram, the largest book wholesaler in the country; and, according to Nielson BookScan, the organization that tracks 75% to 85% of book sales, No. 2 in hardcover nonfiction. In fact, according to BooksCan, it outsold 14 of the 15 books on The New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list. But again, it is not even listed on the New York Times best-seller list.”
Now, The Times’ bestseller list has been controversial for years for its flagrant bias against conservative writers and their works. Last year, the conservative publisher Regnery severed all ties with The Times list.
Ludicrously, The Times continues to protest that it’s really got nothing, nothing at all, against conservatives, even though the newspaper’s been the mouthpiece of the Democrat Party for decades.
So when Prager’s column was published, The Times launched an unusual Twitter counterattack that the liberal website Mediaite hailed as a “rare and stunning tweetstorm.”
It contained this laughable line line:
NYT’s best-seller lists are based on a detailed analysis of book sales from a wide range of retailers in locations across the U.S. Each week we provide our readers the best assessment of what books are the most broadly popular at that time.
— NYTimes Communications (@NYTimesPR) April 18, 2018
The problem with The Times is that its awfully murky about how it goes about compiling that “best assessment” of what books are most popular. It’s not simply based on the number of titles sold, which is understandable, because that would be open to manipulation by strategic purchasing by publishers, or authors, trying to game the system.
However, as with all things related to The Times, political considerations in the service of liberal causes take precedence over honest journalism.
In February 2016, nine months before the Regnery announcement made waves in book publishing circles, book industry professional Tim Grahl published a column in the Observer about the bestelling lists of The New York Times that stated two facts about The Times bestseller list based on a friend’s inside knowledge of raw book sales numbers:
“If you happen to work for The New York Times and have a book out, your book is more likely to stay on the list longer and have a higher ranking than books not written by New York Times employees.”
Second, “If you happen to have written a conservative-political-leaning book, you’re more likely to be ranked lower and drop off the list faster than those books with a more liberal political slant.”
All this would be just shop talk, the book industry’s version of batting averages and on-base percentages, if it weren’t so symptomatic of how the mainstream media, with The Times at its lead, doesn’t describe the reality Americans live in today.
Like The Times bestseller list, with its secret method for counting book sales and deciding which book sale locations matter and which don’t, the mainstream media actually shapes the reality it purports to be describing.
And then presents it to American readers as though they’re looking in a mirror, when actually they’re seeing a carefully molded image that’s intended to reflect how liberals view the world, based on what liberals consider the measures that matter.
Conservatives who care are aware of this of course. There might even be some liberals who realize it too.
Because it isn’t inside baseball. It’s not a game at all.
It’s the political world we’re living in.
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