Yesterday, though, I found a reason to re-visit the topic: calibration data!
Having seen other authors led into destruction by responding to customer reviews on Amazon, I tend to approach the customer reviews of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog with some trepidation.
It turns out, though, that they’re really good. And I don’t mean that in a Harriet Kalunser kind of way– the positive reviews are thoughtful and positive, and the negative comments that have been made are for the most part legitimate criticisms of the book. And then there’s this one:
My 11 year old son is nuts about physics, so I got this book to see how it would go over with him. It did, perfectly. The whole ruse of explaining physics to a dog was hilarious to him and really made concrete some of the things that the author was trying to explain. I had my son explaining to me, laughing, how a dog could walk through a tree if he went slowly enough (with all the physics behind that crazy statement) and then hilariously illustrating what would happen if the dog didn’t go quite slow enough. (He’d bonk his head). You’d think he was recounting a Calvin and Hobbes joke. The entire time my son was reading this he kept coming to me with, “did you know…” and “wow! I never realized that” epiphanies. He did say that some of the stuff being explained was really hard, although he jumped to the author’s defense saying that he thinks it’s not that he did a bad job explaining it, it’s just that some of it was, well, tough.
That’s just awesome. I wonder if I could get that on the book jacket?
Since the AP review came out, and was printed in 20-odd papers, the sales rank has climbed back into the four digits, and has spent the last few days hovering around 2,000. This is pretty respectable, and Amazon proudly touts it as being “#1 in Books > Science > Physics > Quantum Theory,” which sounds nice.
Of course, what does that really mean?
The college bookstore has set up a display table right at the front of the store with a bunch of copies of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog, which is kind of a kick. Some of my students asked me about it in lab yesterday.
The big news, though, is that the Associated Press review ran Monday. I’ve known they were working on one for a while, now, but didn’t see it before it went live. It’s not a great review– it ends “For people who are smarter than the average mixed-breed dog, this might be a good way to learn about the nature of microscopic particles. But I’m waiting for Orzel to write something more on my level, like “How to Teach Physics to a Tapeworm.””– but it’s not as bad as I initially thought, and it’s run in 20-odd papers nationwide.
This probably accounts for the fact that the sales rank has climbed back up into the 2,000’s, which is very nice. Either that, or my taped interview from Monday ran in Cincinnati, and dozens of copies have been sold in southern Ohio and Kentucky…
I’ve got a couple more phone interviews today, so this cold has picked the perfect time to start clogging my throat with gunk. My first official signing event is also fast approaching, next Saturday, the 30th. Mark your calendars…
The Barnes and Noble store finder finally indicated the presence of copies in the local stores yesterday, so we made a trip down to the Colonie Center, where they had a half-dozen face out in the Physics section, and probably 15-20 on the new releases table. Woo-hoo!
(Now I can shift to fretting that they’ve got too many in the local stores, and will end up returning most of them…)
Anyway, if you’re in the Albany area, and want a copy, they have them in Barnes and Noble now.
Miscellaneous other items:
- A nice plug from Derek Lowe
- How to Teach Physics to Your Dog catches the eye of another blogging dog
- I’m not sure what I think of being at #2 on this list of weird books, but, you know, it’s there.
- It’s part of the book haul at Jawas Read Too, whose author is pleasantly surprised by the concept. I hope she likes the book.
- 5746, after a brief drop into the 20,000 range (I think the return to four digits was associated with Derek Lowe’s link above).
I’m doing a radio interview tomorrow (about which more later), and another on Wednesday. This is assuming that my incipient sore throat doesn’t completely destroy my voice, of course…
- The BBC’s Magazine Monitor blog noted my Seed article.
- Better yet, How to Teach Physics to Your Dog makes Smriti Daniel’s list of “the best books to emerge in 2009” in the Sunday Times of Sri Lanka. The other books on the list: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India by William Dalrymple, Drood by Dan Simmons, and Unseen Academicals by some guy named Pratchett. That’s pretty awesome company to be in…
So that’s the latest really cool international news. The UK version of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog goes on sale Wednesday, at least according to Amazon, so mark your calendars for that.
- A nice review at Lean Left that really gets Emmy’s role in the book:
The dog asks clear questions and Orzel uses those interjections well. They very often serve as a way to clarify, or to bring up questions that the readers probably has, or to deal with obvious tangents. It is a very effective tactic and it serves to lighten the prose at strategic times in the discussion. The dog’ voice is skeptical, wise, incredulous and smug (and bloodthirsty. Much of the time, the dog is attempting to use physics to hunt down and, one presumes, devour squirrels. Seriously, the dog has issues.) as needed. And Orzel uses her segments extremely effectively to make sure the text is never too dry or that the reader is never left with too many “yes, but what about .. ” or “what the heck does that mean?” moments. You eventually start to look forward to Emmy’s next appearance.
- The vanity search turned up a couple of libraries mentioning copies in “new arrival” lists, one in Florida, one in Maine. This reminded me to check the Schenectady library where one of the two copies has already been checked out, and the other is still being processed. Yay, libraries.
The sales rank keeps edging up into the five digits, but then a flurry of sales will bring it back down into the four digits. It’ll be interesting to see what effect next week’s radio interviews have.
- While I have yet to see a copy in a Barnes and Noble store locally, it’s selling well enough in the national chain for them to have ordered more copies. Yay!
- Relatedly, the publisher has just ordered a second printing, woo-hoo! I’m not sure what the total number of copies on paper is, but if they’ve asked for more, that’s definitely a good sign.
- I have a couple of radio interviews scheduled for next week, which ought to be an adventure. I’m taping an interview with Jim Scott of WLW in Cincinnati on Monday (not sure when it will air), and scheduled to do a live interview on Wednesday with somebody from the Thom Hartmann Program. I’ll talk more about this closer to.
- The book is apprently enough to make me notable. At least, I’ve had a Wikipedia page for a few days now, and nobody has demanded it be taken down. It could use more information, such as a few of the biolgraphical details here, but I’m not about the edit it myself, which just invites horrible squabbling.
- 6878 at the time of this typing, since you asked.
I may or may not schedule more posts from the airport, but it would probably be a terrible idea given that I spent much of yesterday with muscle spasms in my neck. So be good, and don’t trash the place while I’m gone.
- The first is a nice article from Union’s press office, with the headline “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but what about physics?”. I spent half an hour or so talking with one of the staff writers (who has a science background, which is a nice bonus) on Wednesday, so it’s a fast turnaround, too.
- The second is a passing mention in a possibly skeevy Russian site’s article about the golden retriever physics video that went around a couple of months ago. Amazing what the vanity search turns up…
The sales rank, for those who care, continues to noodle around in the mid-four-digits, sometimes a little higher, sometimes a little lower. I can live with that.
I still haven’t seen it in a big-box store. The local chains either sold out, or have it on order and don’t know when it will arrive. This is more frustrating than it really ought to be…
We do, however, have the first non-mammal added to the DogPhysics Pet Gallery: a lizard, sent in by Marcella McIntyre. It’s not actually a pet, per se, but it’s shown reading up on the Uncertainty Principle, so at least it has a healthy curiosity.
If you’ve got a copy of the book, and you have pets, send a picture of your pet(s) with the book to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll add it to the Gallery. And if there’s any news of note, you can be sure we’ll mention it here…
(#4624, in case you were wondering…)