Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Bessemer Venture Partners Invest $15 Million in Flat World Knowledge
With students spending an average of $1,137 in 2010-11 for textbooks and supplies, according to The College Board, professors, administrators and policy-makers are looking to educational entrepreneurs like Flat World Knowledge for innovative ways to solve the textbook affordability crisis.
"We're bringing textbook publishing into the 21st century," said Jeff Shelstad, Flat World Knowledge CEO and co-founder. "With our new partners, we are accelerating our growth to meet the tremendous demand for world-class educational content that's free of the constraints of conventional textbooks."
To date, more than 1,600 professors at over 900 colleges have adopted Flat World texts, ranging from Cornell University to Columbus State Community College to California State University. Demand is also growing internationally. Students in 44 countries, including India, the United Kingdom, Australia and China are among the 100,000 who will use Flat World Knowledge books this 2010-11 academic year.
The new funding will help the rapid expansion of Flat World's catalog beyond business and economics to include books for the 125 highest-enrolled courses on college campuses. The company recently published titles for three of the largest general education courses: introductory sociology, introductory psychology and college success, which have a combined enrollment of more than four million students annually. Over the next few months, the company will also publish new textbooks for English composition, algebra, chemistry and American government, among others.
Open Model Redefines the Textbook In contrast to traditional publishing's "all rights reserved" copyright license, Flat World publishes under a Creative Commons open license, which eliminates many of the restrictions for how a textbook can be used and distributed. Students can read open textbooks online for free for as long as they like. Professors can reorder and edit content, and add new material and interactive media. Armed with an open license and Flat World's sophisticated online editing platform, faculty are free to create the "perfect book" for their course.