It’s the fate of market innovators to be undercut by new entrants. Bill Tozier has hit on the idea of auctioning co-authorship rights, including the acquisition of an Erdös number of 5. As of this posting, the Ebay high bid stands at $US 31. 354
But Bill has apparently failed to learn the lessons of the dotcom era. The first is to patent everything. As far as I can tell, Bill has failed to file for a business methods patent on his idea, leaving it open to new entrants to imitate him, or even to patent the idea themselves.
The second is that the best way to undercut the competition is to give your product away. Following on this lesson, I’ve decided to set my co-authorship price (including *free* Erdös number of 4) at zero. That’s right, potential co-authors! Send your paper to me with a space for my name on the front page, after yours. SEND NO MONEY! If I like it, I’ll insert my official stamp, and send it off to an appropriate journal. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier!
Just to be boringly clear, my offer is a joke. Bill asserts that his offer (which actually involves doing his share of the work) is serious, and I have no reason to disbelieve him.
fn1. Yes, that’s right! You get to be senior author, on no stronger basis than that you do all the work. How many big-science labs would offer a deal that good?