Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is going toe to toe with the New York Times, no, not over its coverage but over the newspaper of record’s failure to include his new best-selling book, “A Time for Truth” on its best- seller list.
The New York Times says it will not put the Cruz book on its prestigious hard cover non-fiction list because it doesn’t meet its standards – it says that there have been bulk sales which distort the sales figures. Instead of being in the top five best-sellers the first week it was released, as the book’s publisher HarperCollins expected, Cruz’s book was MIA.
HarperCollins Publishers, says the Times’ allegation of bulk sales is not true. Cruz’s presidential campaign has gone ballistic, accusing the paper of lying and having a liberal bias against the conservative Cruz. Bulk sales would presumably come from conservative supporters or outlets. The book has a political hue: its subtitle is “Reigniting the Promise of America.”
As of Monday, the stand-off had escalated, with Cruz’s campaign touting reports that Amazon, the online bookseller, did not have evidence of bulk sales, either. But the Times is standing fast.
“The book didn't meet our standard, which includes not just the number of books sold, but the pattern of those sales,” Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told McClatchy Monday in an email. She said it was “ridiculous” to suggest there was any ideological payback in the decision.
Here’s how it all unfolded:
Cruz’s candid autobiography was released June 30 and the GOP presidential candidate was everywhere, promoting the book in interviews and incorporating book signings into his campaign schedule, including July 2 at a Costco in Arlington, Texas.
At Harper, a division of HarperCollins that published the book, Tina Andreadis, senior vice president and director of publicity, told McClatchy in an interview that she was eagerly awaiting the release of the Times’ list July 8th, which would reflect the first week of the book’s hard cover sales.
“Wednesday night is always that exciting night. We’re sitting here waiting for the list and we know how much it’s sold,” said Andreadis, of Cruz’s book, which had sold over 11,000 copies.
“It wasn’t on the list. I thought I’d missed it,” she said. “We all were honestly, baffled.” After checking with their contact at the Times and hearing about complaints of bulk sales, “we looked into it.”
“There was not one big bulk seller,” said Andreadis. “We see the sales. We know because we’re the publisher.”
HarperCollins took the unusual step of issuing a public statement last week saying they found no evidence of bulk sales.
According to Andreadis, ”A Time for Truth” would have been 3rd on the Times’ best-seller list had it been listed and was 4th on Nielsen Bookscan, a subscription service that tracks the majority of U.S. book sales, 4th on “The Wall Street Journal” best-seller list and 7th on the Barnes and Noble rankings. “All these outlets omit bulk orders books from their rankings,” she said.
Being on the Times’ list matters, she said. “It affects us. It affects the business,” she said. “It’s not just an ego thing.”
The Cruz campaign responded forcefully to the Times’ decision. “The New York Times holds itself out as the ‘newspaper of record,’” said Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler. “If it lied deliberately—if the Times tried to slander the character of Senator Cruz and his publisher, knowing the charge to be false—then that goes directly to the journalistic integrity of the institution. How many other lies has the Times told? Are they only directed at Republicans?”
Andreadis was careful to say that she was not accusing the Times of liberal bias and noted that the newspaper has included many books by conservative authors on its list, including those by Sarah Palin, the former GOP vice presidential nominee, that were also published by HarperCollins.
As for the Times, Murphy, the spokeswoman for the newspaper, gave McClatchy a detailed explanation for its refusal to include the Cruz book:
“The Times's best-seller lists are based on a detailed analysis each week of book sales from a wide range of retailers who provide us with specific and confidential context for their sales. Our system is designed to detect anomalies and patterns that are typical of attempts to manipulate the rankings. We've been doing this for a long time and we apply our standards consistently, across the board,” she said.
“The notion that we would manipulate the best-seller list to exclude books for political reasons is simply ludicrous. Conservative authors have routinely ranked high on our lists -- Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, most recently Ann Coulter, just for a few examples. I can't speak to the statements by Amazon or Harper Collins -- though obviously publishers are always trying to get their authors on our list -- but we are confident in our conclusion about the sales patterns for the Cruz book for the week in question,” said Murphy.
Cruz spokesman Tyler told McClatchy, “The New York Times could end the damage to its reputation by allowing an outside auditor to look at its claims of manipulation.”