How Trump Jr. and conservatives manipulate NY Times bestseller list with bulk orders

  • 11/16/2019 12:32 pm ET Mackenzie Zlatos and Joe Romm

Donald Trump Jr.’s new book, Triggered, debuted at number one on the New York Times bestselling list. But like his father before him, Trump Jr. and the RNC appear to have manipulated the numbers and sales in his favor by buying bulk orders of the book in order to boost sales.

John Iadarola of the Young Turks’ Damage Report explained that when bulk orders are purchased, the New York Times adds a “dagger” to notify bulk sales.  Iadarola said he did his own investigation when he thought “As an outsider, it’s always seemed weird that [the conservative] movement that is so anti-intellectual and hates the very concept of reading, they do sell a lot of books.” He explained, “There’s a reason for that, and it’s lying and gaming the system.”

As the Times explains, “When included, such bulk purchases appear with a dagger (†).:

In Don Jr’s case, the Times reported, “Trump Jr.’s Book Is a No. 1 Bestseller, but With an Edge.” The edge was the bulk purchases, “often meaning that the author or someone associated with the author bought a substantial number of copies.” The Times added, “A spokesman for the Republican National Committee, Steve Guest, said Thursday that the RNC has been offering “Triggered” as a fundraising incentive, a common practice for political books.”

Iadarola said, “When there’s suspicious patterns of sales, they will mark it with a dagger.” Rather than people purchasing the book at a store or on-line, “a think tank, a superPAC, an individual, or a wealthy donor is buying up books to artificially inflate the numbers.”

This pattern happens with many conservative titles, as Iadarola details in the video. Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, conservative radio show host Dan Bongino, and even conservative columnist Ben Shapiro have all debuted books on the bestselling list with that dagger appearing by the title.

According to an Electric Lit story—”Are Conservative Titles Using Shady Tricks to Get Onto the Bestseller List?”—from 2018, “the Times gets the data for its list from specific book vendors who remain, for the most part, confidential.” In order to be established as a vendor, “you have to sell between 5,000 and 10,000 books in a week.”

The Guardian noted that 30 years ago, Donald Trump did the same thing. He ordered his staff to buy “thousands of copies” of The Art of the Deal in order to inflate its popularity.

As noted, the RNC emailed supporters before the debut of the book. These emails urged potential donors to contribute money in exchange for a signed copy of Triggered.

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