Saturday, August 22, 2009

Number of Students, Colleges Using Flat World Knowledge Digital Texts Soars And the Really Good News for Print

The business rule of the internet is read for free, pay for print.
Number of Students, Colleges Using Flat World Knowledge Digital Texts Soars -
8/20/2009 4:01:00 AM - Publishers Weekly
: "Flat World Knowledge has announced that it anticipates that 40,000 college students at over 400 colleges will use its open source digital textbooks this fall. Flat World went live in spring 2009 with 1,000 students from 30 colleges using its offerings. Eric Frank, a cofounder of Flat World, said that while the company’s marketing efforts explained some of the jump, a lot of the increase came from word of mouth. “Adoptions kept increasing from May into August,” Frank said, noting that many of the orders came from faculty members with whom Flat World had no direct contact. “The orders could only have come from recommendations from faculty to faculty,” he said.

Under Flat World’s pricing/business model students can access entire textbooks for free online; pay $19.95 for a PDF download; pay $29.95 for a black and white printed version or $59.95 for a color version, or pay $39.95 for an audio version.
. . .

In addition to adding more students, Flat World is expanding the number of texts it offers. The company currently has 11 textbooks and will offer five new ones this fall and is expanding from its base in business and economics into new subjects such as sociology and psychology. Frank expects to have 25 texts available by next spring and another 38 in the pipeline. He said Flat World has not had discussion with traditional college publishers about working with them, but wouldn’t rule it out in the future. “I’m not sure which way things will go,” he said. (The majority of the Flat World team have backgrounds in traditional textbook publishing).

Frank is projecting sales for 2009 to be in the $700,000 to $750,000 range with roughly $100,000 worth of orders coming from college bookstores. He said the bookstores are working with Flat World to see what kind of role they can play in the Flat World model. Frank expects to add another 100 colleges to the company’s roster for the spring and about 10,000 students, but he believes a quantum leap will occur for fall 2010 when he thinks the number of students could be between 120,000 to 200,000.

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