Daily Wire host Michael Knowles’ new book, “Speechless,” sold nearly 18,000 copies in the week ending June 26, making it the top-selling nonfiction work in the country — far ahead of the second- and third-place books by Bill O’Reilly and Malcolm Gladwell, at nearly 13,000 and just over 9,000, respectively.
That’s according to Publisher’s Weekly, which gets its data from NPD BookScan, the industry’s most comprehensive count of book sales.
But you wouldn’t know it from reading The New York Times. The Times’ prestigious “bestseller list” does not include “Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds” at all in its list of the top 15 books for the same week.
Instead, it lists books like “On Juneteenth,” which according to BookScan sold only 4,774 copies that week, or just over a quarter as many as Knowles’ book. At #13, it lists “Somebody’s Daughter,” a “memoir about growing up a poor Black girl in Indiana with a family fragmented by incarceration” that does not appear anywhere in Publisher’s Weekly’s list of the top 25 nonfiction books.
The Times lists O’Reilly’s book, “Killing the Mob,” in first place.
The New York Times says its list is based on sales figures, but it gets its data on a “confidential basis” from select booksellers, then estimates total sales based on extrapolation. “The panel of reporting retailers is comprehensive and reflects sales in tens of thousands of stores of all sizes and demographics across the United States,” its methodology says.
That means the Times numbers aren’t expected to track exactly with BookScan, which forms the basis for lists published by The Wall Street Journal and other publications.
Still, Tom Spence, the president of Regnery, the publishing house responsible for Knowles’ book, said that if a book reported to have vastly outsold every other nonfiction work per BookScan, but didn’t even rank in the top 15 by the Times’ measure, something was wrong.
“One result of the BookScan service, which now reports almost all retail book sales, is that there are two kinds of bestseller lists: those that reflect how many books have been sold, and the New York Times list, which reflects — who knows what? The omission (once again) of the week’s bestselling book from the Times’ so-called bestseller list confirms that fact-free journalism has found a comfortable home at the former newspaper of record,” he told The Daily Wire.
A spokeswoman for the Times did not say how many copies its numbers showed Knowles’ book selling, saying only that: “The sales of the book did not meet the standards for inclusion this week. 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. Recent lists have included other books published by Regenery [sic] including those by Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz.”
“The New York Times’s best-seller lists are based on a detailed analysis of book sales from a wide range of retailers who provide us with specific and confidential context of their sales each week. These standards are applied consistently, across the board in order to provide Times readers our best assessment of what books are the most broadly popular at that time,” she said in an email.
According to the Daily Signal:
In the early 1980s, William Peter Blatty, author of the monumental best-seller “The Exorcist,” sued The New York Times for only listing his novel on the list one time, even though it sold in the millions. In defending itself before the court, as reported by Book History, the annual journal of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (Penn State University Press), the Times said, “The list did not purport to be an objective compilation of information but instead was an editorial product.”
More recently in 2019, the Times listed Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett’s book on its bestseller list, even though it was #1,030 on Amazon, where it had only three customer reviews, and #1,244 at Barnes and Noble.