Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Bessemer Venture Partners Invest $15 Million in Flat World Knowledge
For authors, the open publishing model represents greater income potential in the long-term, since new unit sales aren't cannibalized by used books, textbook rentals, gray market editions and online piracy sites. More than 100 top academic authors have signed with Flat World, such as Steve Barkan, professor and chair of the department of sociology at the University of Maine, and author of five market-leading textbooks.
"A major reason I decided to write an open textbook is that increasingly my students couldn't afford to buy their books," said Barkan, who recently published Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World with Flat World. "From an author's perspective, there's an incredibly high-quality review and development process that's been a real plus. And I stand to be well-compensated. It's win-win for everybody."
Textbook Licensing Addresses Cost at the Institutional Level As enrollments continue to soar and education budgets shrink, colleges are seeking new and more aggressive ways to lower student costs and improve completion rates. Flat World recently launched an institutional textbook licensing model to help colleges achieve these goals. The company has several agreements in place, including one with Virginia State University, which embraced this licensing model as a way to reverse its high drop-out rate among business school students, most of whom are on financial aid and can't afford to buy expensive textbooks that can cost as much as $200 each.
Akin to the way colleges purchase software licenses, institutions buy per-student, per-course seat licenses for digital access to textbooks, and charge students a small fee as part of tuition. Unlike other licensing models, Flat World gives students unlimited access to the digital files, along with print options, and the ability to transfer the content from device to device.
"Our students have always had the ability and intellect," said Dr. Mirta Martin, dean of VSU's Reginald F. Lewis School of Business. "Now with open textbooks, they finally have the resources."