The Audacity of Barnes & Noble: Search for 'God' Yields Obama Book

NewsBusters reader Shane S. shared this experience:
I was searching for a book I read in college, "God: A Biography." I searched Barnes & Noble's website using the book's title as my search term. The book I was looking for was the first result given. The second result? "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" by the Messiah Himself, Barack Obama.

I tried the experiment myself, and sure enough, it produced the same results. Update: 6:05 PM. Searching for "God: a Biography" no longer leads to the Obama book. You don't suppose Barnes& Noble reads NewsBusters? But we have the screen capture after the jump, taken this morning, which shows that a search for "God: a Biography" led to The Audacity of Hope.


Shane was reluctant to accuse Barnes & Noble of bias, but I'm not. First, the book industry is notorious for its liberal leanings. Second, every other book on the first two pages of search results contains the search term "God" somewhere in its title. It's difficult to imagine that B&N's search algorithm put Obama's oeuvre, which does not contain the word "God," in second place without some definitely un-divine intervention.

Note: The quotation marks placed around 'God' in the headline are for the purpose of indicating the search term, not as scare quotes.

Comparison Shopping

Here are the results pages for a search for "God: a Biography" at Amazon.com and Borders. Neither turned up the Obama opus. Could Barnes be the most biased bookseller?

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.