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Behind the New York Times Best-Seller (‘Not Best-Reviewed’) Lists

This means our lists are not a judgment of literary merit made by the editors of the best-seller lists, who remain impartial to the results. These are best-seller lists, not best-reviewed lists.

How can a book be listed at No. 1 on another list but not be at the top of The Times’s list?

Other organizations might use different reporting stores and reporting periods. Some use Monday-to-Sunday periods. (A single day can create a huge difference in data.)

And some might not apply the same rigorous standards for inclusion: Part data scientists, part investigative journalists, our best-seller list editors scrutinize sales reports with a practiced eye to uncovering manipulation.

How do The Times’s ranking methods ensure objectivity?

The best-sellers desk is staffed by three full-time editors who work independently from our news, opinion and culture desks; from the Book Review and the books desk; and from our advertising department.

Our nonfiction lists feature books from authors across ideological and political spectrums. In the last year, politicians and commentators who identify as conservative have performed as well as, if not better than, liberal ones on our lists.

Trends depend on publishing schedules and what is happening in the cultural zeitgeist.

The authors with the most weeks on our hardcover nonfiction list in the last 10 years are Bill O’Reilly (438 weeks, 330 of them as a co-author), Laura Hillenbrand (203 weeks), Malcolm Gladwell (200 weeks), Chelsea Handler (147 weeks, 18 of them as a co-author) and Michael Lewis (119 weeks).

How often and why does The Times remove books from its lists?

This happens only rarely. Since the lists began in 1931, it has occurred only a few times.

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