Screen shot 2010-08-22 at 10.47.05 AM.pngFrom the press release:

Flat World Knowledge, the leading publisher of commercial, openly-licensed college textbooks, today announced another dramatic increase in the number of colleges and classrooms adopting its textbooks. This fall semester, more than 800 colleges will utilize Flat World textbooks, up from 400 in fall 2009 and up from 30 colleges in spring 2009.

With Flat World’s textbooks saving the average student $80 per class, the company is on track to save 150,000 students $12 million or more in textbook expenses for the 2010/2011 academic year which begins this month. …

Flat World adoptions are occurring at major state and private research universities and community college systems, including the University of Maryland, University of Texas, Carnegie Mellon University, multiple California State University campuses, the Foothill DeAnza Community College District in CA, as well as institutions in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

With a growing roster of top authors and more than 24 published titles and 50 more in the pipeline, Flat World expects to publish textbooks for the 125 highest-enrollment college courses in the next few years. New subjects in the immediate pipeline include algebra, psychology, chemistry, biology, statistics and English composition.


  1. Just remember that Flat World only makes money when the student buys a print copy of the book. In effect, the free ebook is a loss-leader. I’m wondering what incentive the publisher has to improve the ebook experience if they lose money every time a student chooses the ebook over print?

  2. They may not make money from each ebook download but that is still their core product so they have every incentive to improve it. The more people use and appreciate the ebook version, the larger the potential market for things like the printed version, flash cards, etc and the more the company’s reputation for quality improves.

  3. Still sounds a bit off. They are gaining adoptions primarily on free materials. They plan to build a big customer base and up-sell them printed books and supplements. But if they don’t lure enough customers to the paid products they wont be profitable.

    So, they need the free ebook to be credible but they are counting on it not to be useful enough to replace print, at least not anytime soon.

  4. Bob – just a minor clarification. The HTML, web-hosted textbook is available for free. We sell all other formats, from softcover print, to ePub and MOBI files for handheld readers, to downloadable (and thus printable) PDFs, audio books, and all digital study aids. So, if a reader with a handheld like an iPad wants to use the funcationality of that device (like highlighting and note-taking) they would pay for the $24.95 downloadable version. We are definitely not counting on revenue from print books and study aids alone. Thx.


  5. Thanks Eric,

    I’m certainly not against what you guys are doing – its a classic marketing strategy and you are backing it up with good products (I’m assuming, or else you really will have a problem!)

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