Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Warm and tingly

This is a story from The Guardian that makes those of us in the book trade warm and tingly inside. It was the headline that got our attention: "Author flies to Canada to replace reader's faulty copy of his book."

"Many authors would claim to be committed to their readers, but academic Daniel Fleisch has gone that extra mile and then some. The scientific writer [seen handling the telescope], it has emerged, flew more than 900km on Christmas Day to hand deliver his book to a customer who had posted a negative review on Amazon complaining that he'd be sold a flawed copy."

See The Guardian's complete story.


dan said...


Author flies to Canada to replace reader's faulty copy of his book

Like Paul Harvey, I wanted to know the "rest of the story" and it is even more amazing. Read my quick email interview with this most amazing professor who deserves some kind of an award for his wonderful way of "thinking" about life.

As everyone knows who reads the papers, there's a professor in Ohio at Wittenberg University, Dr. Dan Fleisch, who recently did something very very unusual, and it makes for a heartwarming and inspiring story. As noted on every blog in the known universe, from Moby Lives to BooksForHire, not to mention PW and the Dayton Daily News, which interviewed Professor Dan Fleisch for the story, it happened like this.

3 great links:

Ohio's Wittenberg University professor Dan Fleisch, author of A Student's Guide to Maxwell’s Equation, made a surprise delivery of his book to Ottawa, Canada, resident Michel Cuhaci after reading on that Cuhaci had received a flawed copy, the Dayton Daily News reported.

After reading this news story, we contacted Dr Fleisch for a followup interivew, because we were intrigued by this man's amazing -- extraordinary -- act of kindness and what might be called "going the extra mile" in the line of duty. So we asked Dan a few more questions, and he politely responded.

Question: Did you ever do anything like this BEFORE this? What?

PROFESSOR FLEISCH: I've never done anything quite like this before, but I do have a bit of a reputation at my university for doing whatever it takes to help a student understand physics. For example, I once rented an ice-hockey rink and paid some professional hockey players to accelerate, turn sharply, and shoot the puck while students measured their motion using video cameras and a radar gun.

2. What inspired or motivated you to do THIS action?

PROFESSOR: On the day before Christmas, I was horrified to learn from Mr. Cuhaci's review on Amazon that he had received a defective copy of the book. We've all had the experience of purchasing something on line and then finding that it's defective when it arrives - that's inevitable, but in the case I could do something about it. [SO HE DID! - Editor's note]

3. You spent about US$500 dollars on airfare and taxi and gas, etc, car
rental, are you a trust fund kind with enormous resources, or just a
good guy on the side of the good guys of this universe?

PROFESSOR: College professors in the U.S. are paid a decent wage (I make about US$60,000 per year). I was determined to fix this problem, so the cost wasn't my primary concern.

4. This all happened over Xmas Eve and Xmas Day, so I assume you might be
Jewish and time to spiare that day. So for your
Christmas Eve activity, you did something amazing. Can you explain
from what depths of your being and personality did allt his stem?

PROFESSOR: Actually, I was raised a Roman Catholic (but many people assume I'm Jewish when they learn that I had a cat named "Schmatta"). I can't say what was in my mind, other than "I can make this right."

5. The man you delivered the book too didn't even invite you in for
coffee or tea, after all that long travel, mostly because he did not
know what you had done, in terms of heavy lifting, and he was even a
bit scared that you might be a robber or a bad guy or something. But
in fact, you were a kind of Christmas Eve angel on his appointed

PROFESSOR: Mr. Cuhaci was very gracious and I certainly did not expect to be invited in to his house (as you say, he had no way of knowing that my intentions were honorable).

6. You are a physicist. Did this action you took on Xmas Eve have
anything to do with your work as a scientist, or are you just one of
the most amazing people on earth?

PROFESSOR: Interesting question. I appreciate your very kind comments, and I'd say this: physicists love solving problems, and this was a problem that I knew I could solve. So I did.
Thank you again for your interest.

[- interview thanks to Dr. Dan Fleisch
Dept. of Physics, Wittenberg University]


Author Hand-Delivers Book After Reader's Gripe
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Morning Edition, February 9, 2009 · On Christmas Eve, an Ohio math professor noticed a complaint on Amazon about his latest book. An Ottawa man had received a defective copy of Daniel Fleisch's book on Maxwell's equations. That's the math that put us on the path to cell phones. With no way to send it in time, the professor hopped a plane to Canada. On Christmas, he surprised the buyer on his doorstep, asking, "Hardcover or soft?"

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!