It is very clear whom I must and wish to thank first—my editor and beloved wife Jessie. Jessie was very busy raising our children when I was working on my previous book. However, on this book she was able to resume a full editorial partnership with me. As an editor, Jessie is a joy to work with. She ranges effortlessly from advice on the basic structure of arguments to finding just the right publication or quotation to deepen understanding of an idea. This book is very much better because she applied her erudition and wonderful editing skills to improving it.
Next, I want to thank the colleagues who share research interests with me, and who join me on research projects and coauthored papers. In addition to the learning we all derive from the growing innovation research community around the world, each book I write builds upon a decade or more of collaborative research projects with close colleagues. In the case of this book, the research studies that were most central to both theorizing about and generating data regarding Free Innovation were conducted with Carliss Baldwin, Harold DeMonaco, Steven Flowers, Johann Fuller, Alfonso Gambardella, Nikolaus Franke, Fred Gault, Christoph Hienerth, Jeroen P. J. de Jong, Youngbae Kim, Jari Kuusisto, Karim Lakhani, Susumu Ogawa, Pedro Oliveira, Christina Raasch, Ruth Stock, and Andrew Torrance. Thank you all so much for our wonderful collaborations and friendships! In large part because of our work together, I find research to be a very joyful profession, full of growth and color. I look forward to our next excellent adventures—which I hope will include even more frequent walks to local bakeries and coffee houses.
It is essential that research and theory building on free innovation accurately understand and build upon the very new ways innovation is being conducted in the digital age. For help with this essential aspect of the work, I have centrally depended upon learning from friends and colleagues who are themselves innovators at the leading edge of practice. Central among these are Jeff Davis and Jason Crusan at NASA, Chris DiBona at Google, Jim Euchner at Goodyear, Bernadette Piacek- Llanes at General Mills, and Venkatesh Prasad at Ford Motor Company. Thank you all as always, and I very much look forward to our next discussions and projects!
Of course, as the book took shape I needed to ask for thoughtful review of the central ideas. This can be painful for my expert colleagues, especially at early stages when ideas are evolving rapidly, and the manuscript is still rough. The greatest contributions to reviewing drafts of Free Innovation, and giving insights for important improvements, were made by my colleagues Carliss Baldwin, Yochai Benkler, Dietmar Harhoff, Joachim Henkel, and Andrew Torrance—thank you so much!!
Next, with respect to getting the book into print, I want to thank my long-time senior editor at the MIT Press, John Covell, and also Ellen Faran, former Director of the MIT Press. Between the three of us, we successfully negotiated an agreement stipulating that free digital copies of the book will be made available on the web at the same time as printed copies are placed on the market. "Free” is still a rare practice in academic book publishing, and the MIT Press, with its strong public service orientation, is a leader in thinking about and experimenting with the commercial feasibility of various approaches to open access. In the approach we are using with Free Innovation, sales of physical printed copies will compensate the MIT Press for the costs of producing the book. The simultaneous availability of free digital copies may increase sales of physical copies or reduce them—we really do not know. What we do know is that it is important for readers that at least some of the books and research materials they need can be obtained for free. I very much hope that ways will be found to make open access for academic books a more general practice in future years.
With respect to the beautiful cover design, I want to thank Yasuyo Iguchi, Design Manager at the MIT Press. She incorporated a research photo of a spark created by my father, Arthur von Hippel, in an especially lovely way.
Finally, I thank my two wonderful children, Christiana von Hippel and Eric James von Hippel. We interact a lot as a family, and we really do affect each other's thinking. I am grateful for the good ideas and encouragement they both have provided as I worked very hard on this book.