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Shhh: 10 Make-or-Break Trade Secrets

5. The New York Times Best Seller List

In continuous publication since 1942, The New York Times' (NYT) best seller list is the top book-rating system in the U.S. While it is known that the paper polls thousands of chain bookstores, independent bookstores and wholesalers, the actual mechanics of the list are unknown, as release of the details could enable publishers to manipulate sales data. Over its history, the best seller list has run into a few battles with authors and retailers: in 1983, Exorcist author William Peter Blatty unsuccessfully sued the Times for $9 million, citing lost revenues when the list refused to acknowledge his novel Legion. Sixteen years later, the Times again found itself in court when online retailer Amazon began using the list to promote its sales. The two ended up settling: in return for sharing its sales figures with the Times, Amazon got to use the best seller list.

(AP Photo/Akira Ono)

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