My colleague Jim Minatel, over on his The Average Joe: A Book Publisher Blog, shares that Wiley is looking for an Acquisitions Editor for Open Source Topics. Acquisitions editors are the folk that pay attention to the particular market segment, identify the thought leaders, and communicate with them about the possibility of them writing books for the publisher (Jim Minatel has a must-read piece about The Role of the Acquisitions Editor too).
But while being an AE in just about any market space is nothing unusual – there are lots of them, from health to romance, sports to construction, working for hundreds of different publishers – but there’s something a bit different about the Open Source community, and that’s the long-running undercurrent of information wants to be free.
As a relatively prolific business and technology writer (My new Growing Your Business with Google book marks 19 published books for me, with #20 in the production pipeline), I really don’t agree with the whole information wants to be free mantra, and as far back as the mid 1980’s I was getting into arguments with the Free Software Foundation folk about copyright, intellectual property ownership and the exchange of money to compensate developers (this argument is one major reason that my Elm Mail System never made it into the core GNU software suite, actually)
But amazingly, twenty years later, there are still lots of people who believe that anyone who makes a dollar off of the labor of anyone else is inherently evil somehow, in a weird, incoherent sort of quasi-Marxist interpretation of modern capitalism.
So while the position of acquisitions editor at a world-class publisher like John Wiley & Sons, Inc., sounds like a terrific opportunity, I’m just not entirely sure about whether you’d want to throw yourself to the lions by working within the open source community to find people willing to make a buck off of open source projects.
But maybe I’m just paranoid. What do you think?