U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has a new memoir has been climbing the online bestseller lists. Despite its strong multi-week performance the New York Times has refused to put it on its own bestseller list, citing that bulk sales account for the majority of purchases. This has promoted HarperCollins and Amazon to proclaim they find no evidence of anything shady going on.
When political books first come out, they often climb to the top of the bestseller lists due to bulk purchases being made by people in their party or lobby groups who want to see media spotlight on their boy. The Cruz book is a bit of an anomaly though, because all of the sales seem to be organic.
On Sunday, Sarah Gelman, Amazon’s director of press relations said that the company’s sales data showed no evidence of unusual bulk purchase activity, casting further doubt on the Times’ claim that the book — “A Time for Truth” — had been omitted from its list because sales had been driven by “strategic bulk purchases.
“As of yesterday, ‘A Time for Truth’ was the number 13 best-selling book, and there is no evidence of unusual bulk purchase activity in our sales data.”
HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, also found issue with the New York Times omission of the book. They said they have investigated the sales pattern and found “no evidence of bulk orders or sales through any retailer or organization.” Moments after that announcement, Cruz’s campaign issued a press release accusing the Times of lying and calling on the paper to provide evidence of bulk purchasing or else formally apologize.
“A Time for Truth,” which was published on June 30, sold 11,854 copies in its first week — more than 18 of the 20 titles on the Times best-seller list for the week ending July 4, according to Nielsen Bookscan. If you look at all of the sales numbers, Cruz’s book would have finished at number three on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction category. However, the Times informed HarperCollins last week that Cruz’s book would not be on the list.
In an email last week, Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy said “A Time for Truth” did not meet the paper’s “uniform standards,” which include “an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold.” In the case of Cruz’s book, she said, “the overwhelming preponderance of evidence was that sales were limited to strategic bulk purchases.”
This is the first time ever that Amazon, a major publisher and a US senator have ganged up on the New York Times in such a public fashion. Ted Cruz is being painted as someone who is selling a lot of books and the Times is refusing to include his title due to his political agenda.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.