Friend or foe? An author caught in Amazon's gay-books scandal isn't sure


On Sunday evening, the blogosphere swirled with rumors that had dumped all books with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender content from its ranking system, rendering thousands of books nearly impossible to find. However, Nathaniel Frank just chuckled. Maybe that was an odd reaction for the author of a new book that was itself caught in the scandal's net, Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America. But at least now he knew it wasn't his iPhone's fault.

Amazon fixed its "glitch" on Monday, calling it an "embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error." Meanwhile, for Frank, a history professor at New York University and the University of California–Santa Barbara, coverage of the incident may have raised his book's profile. In effect, Amazon's "glitch" became an unplanned cog in the book's publicity machine -- just as visible as the book's review in The New York Times and the author's guest slot on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

As he explains in this DF interview, Frank (who, in full disclosure, is a college acquaintance) may never learn for sure whether, or how, the "glitch" affected the sales of Unfriendly Fire. It can be fun guessing, though.