NY Times Catches On to Rightie Book Scam (Updated)

Righties are apoplectic because the New York Times is not putting Ted Cruz’s book A Time for Truth (cough) on the best-seller list.

The New York Times informed HarperCollins this week that it will not include Ted Cruz’s new biography on its forthcoming bestsellers list, despite the fact that the book has sold more copies in its first week than all but two of the Times’ bestselling titles, the On Media blog has learned.

Just going by number of copies sold, ATfT ought to be #3 or so this week.  The New York Times, however, says that it has standards that include analysis of sales patterns, not just units sold. In other words, the NYT is looking out for bulk sales. It’s going to be harder to cheat your way onto the best-seller list by having organizations buy up your book in bulk.

Or, as Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy explained,

“In the case of this book, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence was that sales were limited to strategic bulk purchases,” she wrote.

This is a scam that’s been going on for a long time, and I’m glad the Times is calling it out, finally. As you probably know already, here’s how it works: Somebody writes a book titled Liberals Are Awful and Will Eat Your Baby. Conservative “book clubs,” think tanks, and other organizations buy up tens of thousands of copies in bulk, making the book a “best seller.” Then they either re-sell copies at a steep discount or give them away at conferences or as part of a promotion for something else (sign up for our newsletter and get a free copy of … ). It’s a variation of “wingnut welfare,” in other words.

Eventually, most of the copies will end up in landfills, unread. But the book is on the  best-seller list, which earns the author a lot of publicity and interviews and television guest spots to promote right-wing nonsense.

Back in 2007, five Regnery authors realized they weren’t being paid royalties for all the tens of thousands of copies that allegedly were sold, and they sued. Regnery was selling the books at a steep discount to its own affiliates, giving books away as premiums to newsletter subscribers, and donating them in bulk to like-minded organizations. Obviously, the authors weren’t making any money on all these books. Regnery called this a marketing strategy.

Sarah Palin boosted sales of her own books with $64,000 in bulk purchases made by her own political action group, SarahPAC. The books were offered free to anyone who made a donation of $100 or more. Awhile back Mitt Romney cranked up sales of his book No Apology by asking institutions to buy thousands of copies in exchange for his speeches

The hosts ranged from Claremont McKenna College to the Restaurant Leadership Conference, many of whom are accustomed to paying for high-profile speakers like Romney. Asking that hosts buy books is also a standard feature of book tours. But Romney’s total price — $50,000 — was on the high end, and his publisher, according to the document from the book tour — provided on the condition it not be described in detail — asked institutions to pay at least $25,000, and up to the full $50,000 price, in bulk purchases of the book. With a discount of roughly 40 percent, that meant institutions could wind up with more than 3,000 copies of the book — and a person associated with one of his hosts said they still have quite a pile left over.

For a while, the Times was marking “bulk sales” books with an asterisk, but now they’ve gone the extra mile and simply are not listing them. If more “best seller” compilers do this, it could kill right-wing publishing.

Getting back to Ted Cruz’s book — HarperCollins is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, note. So far I haven’t been able to find out who the bulk purchasers were. Cruz does have his fans who no doubt bought his book legitimately. But do any of them read?

Update: Here’s another way to scam the system I didn’t even know about.

In essence, The Times accused Cruz’s publisher of trying to buy its way onto the bestseller list by having a firm like Result Source hire thousands of people across America to individually purchase a copy of “A Time For Truth,” in the hope that some of those retailers are on the secret list of booksellers who report their sales to the Times, or that the aggregate purchasers will simply be too high for the Times to ignore.

28 thoughts on “NY Times Catches On to Rightie Book Scam (Updated)

  1. And now, Ann Coulter is shivering and shaking in her skinny male gene…. in “her” skinny jeans!

    Without those “bulk” purchases, there are NO people who are interested in reading the missives of a minimal and dysfunctional mind.
    Ok, there are handfuls of conservative zealot’s, who’ll by anything that hints at the fact that Libtard’d suck.

    Just not enough to make a “book” a legitimate best-seller.

  2. I see these books at Costco where they are sold as individual units. Costco is not a particularly right-wing demographic, but there must be some sort of strategy behind marketing these tomes in those outlets. I do not know whether the Times counts sales through big box stores in its bestseller database. They seem to be discounted at about the same rate as non-political books. Maybe I will look more closely next time I am there and see if the ratio of Costco price to sticker price is different from the surrounding books.

    • Ed– Costco probably sells what’s called “remainders” in the book trade. Publishers ship books to standard book stores sort of on consignment. Eventually what inventory the book store owner decides is never going to move is shipped back to the publisher. The “remainders” often are sold at a loss to discount stores so that the publisher can clear out the warehouse.

  3. “Eventually, most of the copies will end up in landfills, unread”

    That is best for all involved, anyone who would even consider reading that book has already been intellectually hobbled. Poor Ted has he played the “Cuban-Canadian” card yet?

  4. Sarah Palin boosted sales of her own books with $64,000 in bulk purchases made by her own political action group, SarahPAC.

    PT Barnum would have blushed at Sarah’s shenanigans. There’s a Rightie born every minute.

  5. Getting these books on the Times Best Seller list through sham, straw purchases also had the effect of lending a veneer of popularity to these books that was unrealistic. I seriously doubt that your garden variety wingnut, those who froth at the mouth at every bigoted thing Trump says, cheer letting people die for lack of health insurance, and shoot each other with the guns they wave around actually read anything. Why should they, when their world view is mainlined directly into their skulls listening to Fox, Rush, Savage, Huck and the mass of other right wing bottom feeders?

    If they had to rely on book sales by individuals these books wouldn’t even make sense from a cost standpoint, even for the vast wingnut welfare conglomeration.

  6. If you’ve ever checked out the personals on Craig’s list and have seen where some women are looking to establish a relationship, and in doing so they list the terms that are acceptable in forming that relationship. Very often women include the condition of NO HEAD GAMES in their solicitation for a relationship.
    Cruz, in his book exemplifies the meaning of head games. He tries to paint himself in secular terms to the Christian concept of lost but found, blind but now he sees. He describes himself as having transcended the base qualities of arrogance and cockiness in his youth when in fact those qualities have increased and solidified within his character. He’s radiant with arrogance and cockiness, and his boasts of progress in character growth to give the illusion of a perfected being is the ultimate in head games.

  7. “illusion of a perfected being”

    Swami, One thing Ted has defiantly perfected is the phoney concern sad clown eyebrow face. He’s a master at facial expressions. I’m not sure if this trait came naturally or if it was part of his fathers training regiment in preparation for Rafael Jr’s ruling the world, but he is as adept at exhibiting phoney concern as any seasoned cable news bobble head!

  8. One thing Ted has defiantly perfected is the phoney concern sad clown eyebrow face.

    Oh, I love it! I couldn’t think what to call it. There’s an element of saccharinized Joe McCarthy, Cruz’s eerie doppelganger, as if Cruz is trying to say: “I love America so much I WILL RUTHLESSLY DESTROY ALL HER ENEMIES, but I will do it while reading jovially from Doctor Seuss so they will not notice the knife entering between their ribs.” Which makes me want to shove Cruz’s smug, sugar-sucking puss into the nearest toilet and flush. The Phony-Concern, Sad-Clown-Eyebrow Face!

  9. “But do any of them read?” Great statement. Recently on FB I saw a map of the US with the most popular literature of each state. Oklahoma’s was Doonesbury, which I think is astounding because you have to be somewhat intelligent to understand him and my state is not noted for intelligence, although, hidden in the brush are the liberals and other intelligent types.

    Cruz is only the worst of the many idiot Republicans who think they’ve got what it takes to run a country. God help us if any of them win!

  10. I buy great books at thrift stores – newly published – for $2-3. I see those garbage books on the shelves all the time and people won’t even pay the low prices the thrift stores charge.

  11. “Which makes me want to shove Cruz’s smug, sugar-sucking puss into the nearest toilet and flush”

    Joanr16, too funny!

  12. If they had to rely on book sales by individuals these books wouldn’t even make sense from a cost standpoint

    And I’ll bet that even the wingnut books bought by individuals are mostly never read. They’re totems ostentatiously displayed on coffee tables for when their wingnut buddies visit, to prove their ideological correctness.

  13. This is a scam that’s been going on for a long time, and I’m glad the Times is calling it out, finally.
    I remember when Jonathan Livingston Seagull was #1 on the best seller list, so I bought it and read it…and then after reading it, thought that something ain’t right about the best seller list.

  14. I’ve worked at a community library at my housing complex. We get books donated by residents. Not all of them are new(ish), many are decades old. One resident commented to me that maybe we should get money from the complex to buy books. I asked her how would we pick the books to buy and who would pick them? She said we could go by the NY Times best seller list. I laughed and told her no way because the best seller list is manipulated by book sale counts and does not have any relation to quality. Also she couldn’t say who would pick the books. Consider that at times I’ve tossed out a new but right-wing book because we just have too many RWNJs living in the complex who don’t need to see the books in the library.

  15. In a nice sort of karmic kick in the pants, Jerome Corsi was on of the 5 who sued Regency and lost in court.

    He should have been satisfied with his Swift Boating of John Kerry, because that will be his one and only claim to fame as a rat in all future history.

  16. Swami, thanks for the memories and the laugh. I was fortunate enough to find a copy of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” on the back seat while hitching a ride with a friend. So the discovery didn’t cost me a dime, and there wasn’t much scenery to miss heading down highway 41.

    One of my favorite literary barbs was one that my Slavic Arts and Letters professor threw at a popular Russian poet, “He’s the only poet better in translation than his native language.”

  17. I personally don’t care about the NYT best seller list. I read what interests me. And I loved Jonathan Livingston Seagull. And I loved the music Neil Diamond wrote for the movie. But then I do have weirdo taste. I love Stephen King and Anne Rice. So everyone should read what interests them instead of what sells. After all, O’Reilly claimed some of his books were #1 on that list. Don’t know how he did it but I have never read any of his books and consider them trash.

  18. Swami, JLS was a trendy collegiate cult classic – all the ‘cool’ coeds read it so all the guys looking to hook up had to read it too. That alone justified its place on the Best Seller lists.

  19. Dan: I don’t know where you were when JLS came out but I was married with 3 children and was not a cool coed. JLS may have been funky but it had a great message (IMHO) and I doubt guys wanting to hook up put it on the best seller list. I agree it is not great literature but it was easy reading and enjoyable.

  20. grannyeagle… I suspect it was on the bestseller list because somebody primed the pump by the same method that the NY times is trying to distance itself from Cruz’s rag today, and all subsequent buyers who increased its popularity by purchasing it were curious to see what all the fuss was about. The false assumption that caused me to pick it up and read it was the fact that because it was a bestseller that it had a high degree of literary merit. It was a bantamweight book and when I finished reading it I came away with a feeling of being used. Seduced and abandoned?

    Now, if great literature is the measure..I recommend the works of Jack Woodford.. With titles like, Hard Boiled Virgin, Rented wife,and Swamp Hoyden, among his many great works. One will never turn the last page in a Woodford novel feeling they’ve been had by a marketing ploy.
    His prose are flawless and profound..” If for the price of a drink any man could have her for the night, why would one man want her for a lifetime?”

  21. Swami: True, we should all ignore the NYT best seller list. It means nothing. As for your recommendation of Jack Woodford, I have never heard of him and I’m not sure if you are being facetious or not but they sound very sexist to me. Sort of the male counterpart to the silly romance novels that are very popular with some women, especially older ones. My mother used to love them.

  22. Grannyeagle, I suspect Swami is putting on the antic disposition, although one never knows, does one? He is a slippery devil, that Swami.

    I’ve never actually read a bodice ripper, but I had a friend who taught troubled students. She had extraordinary success with advancing their reading skills, and her method involved letting them read romance novels. After all, they were adolescents, who were alas, much more innocent way back then, that’s the kind of thing they reading about. You have to admit, it makes sense.

    Henry Miller once observed, “show me a man with a bellyful of the classics, and I’ll show you an enemy of all mankind.” There was an element of humor in the statement. But, back at school, I was one of those enemies. In the past couple of decades, I’ve come around. There is a lot of really great writing going on out there, both in fiction and non-fiction. There is a lot of experimentation and expansion of the novel form that is really exciting.

    I should add that I am a huge Michael Chabon and Barbara Kingsolver fan, pretty much anything that you read by either of them would be well worth your time.

    “Kavalier and Clay” or “Lacuna” would be highly recommended.

  23. Goatherd: Two more writers I have never heard of. See, it’s like I always say: “So many books, so little time.”
    I am thankful my parents never censored my reading material cause I read everything. Of course, back then it was safer as there wasn’t so much trash available. I read comic books, library books, loved animal stories and the swashbuckler stories and in my teens, romance magazines. Today, reading is still just about my favorite thing to do.

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