Some 40,000 college students studying on a Flat World

Some 40,000 college students studying on a Flat World

Summary: Instead of paying $100 for the textbooks you need in a class, Flat World claims its customers pay an average of $18. In addition to the free download students can buy a PDF version, a printed version (black and white or color), even an audio version.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware
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Remember Flat World Knowledge?

I interviewed CEO Eric Frank a year ago about his plan to deliver e-book textbooks free to college kids, and about the business model he claimed would still spin money for the textbooks' authors.

In March Flat World got $8 million in funding, and the news is they now claim 40,000 kids are using their stuff.

This is the tip of the iceberg, David Weir of BNET writes. The number could grow five-fold in a year and the total market is 17 million students.

So far the company has focused solely on business and economics textbooks. But it now has 32 titles in development covering basic subjects like psychology, sociology and genetics.

Instead of paying $100 for the textbooks you need in a class, Flat World claims its customers pay an average of $18. In addition to the free download students can buy a PDF version, a printed version (black and white or color), even an audio version. (My eldest is dyslexic -- this is big news.)

Flat World is being followed into the market by a host of competitors, like Chegg and BookRenter. This may be the best news of all.

While the material is subject to copyright, it's called open source because it's freely available for download on the Internet.

When I spoke to Frank last year he mentioned several other ways to monetize the content, from testing guides to online chats with book authors. So you might think of this as more of a Priceline model. Students can name their own price for textbooks, actually spending more than they do now if they want ancillary services, or spending nothing at all.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

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12 comments
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  • Cool idea - Thanks!

    My daughter currently rents her books from Chegg.com for a fraction of the $100-$200 price range offered on campus. I'll let her know about this offering as well.

    Cheers!
    slimmac1
  • Being WAY past college age I have to admit....

    that my first reaction to the headline was that fundamentalist nutballs had gone even further and decided that not only is the earth only 6000 years old, but flat to boot.

    On a more serious note, this is just one more example of the "devaluing" and power/potential of the internet to benefit mankind. The monetization/creator compensation question remains a bit tricky at times, but to protect the old and inefficient business models at all costs is doomed to fail eventually.

    I hope one day that knowledge/information and culture will be freely available on the web for all the world to benefit from, but that we have also found a way to fairly compensate the creators. Perish all the middlemen who do not add value, but still want to extract a toll. (Looking at you RIAA)
    Economister
    • Earth Is The Center Of The Solar System Too

      Where have you been?
      itanalyst2
      • The Solar System?

        Pssht! Hang the solar system! Try the UNIVERSE! *insert maniacal, mad scientist laugh here*
        NCWeber
      • RE: Some 40,000 college students studying on a Flat World

        So you might think of this as more of a Priceline model. Students can name their own price for textbooks, actually spending more than they do now if they want ancillary services, or spending nothing at all.<a href="http://ipadbagblog.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> k</font></a>
        zakkiromi
    • RE: Some 40,000 college students studying on a Flat World

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      hardwork1
  • Great idea!

    My kids spend a fortune on textbooks. Many professors require books they author - pretty sweet source of extra income. There is no regard for cost. I feel like they think these kids are just a money tree to be picked bare.
    Expect intense resistance, but this is long overdue.
    pikeman666
  • Dana, is this reserved exclusively for students in the USA ?

    It's a big wide world out there, you know....

    Henri
    mhenriday
    • More Links, Please

      Dana,
      Are there any further links on the why's and wherefore's of this subject?
      twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
  • What a brilliant idea!

    About time someone came up with a 'student-friendly' business model of selling formerly hardcopy-only, essential learning material, to college students.

    I know for a fact, that during my degree, it wasn't unusual to spend upward of $400 - per semester! for text books. And that's cheap - from what i've heard, Medical and Engineering students pay a damn sight more! So basically, this is, as Dana says, a "big deal" for a lot of students.

    It's refreshing to see students getting something *really* worthwhile on the cheap - as opposed to the mountain of other skyrocketing study costs they have to put up with.

    All power to the innovators that came up with this whole idea! It's just a matter of time before this (rightly) displaces campus book stores that typically charge "an arm and a leg" for conventional, text books.

    Great story Dana ... and thanks for the heads-up - i have nephews and nieces soon to embark on university studies that will, no doubt, "really dig" this service!

    Thank you kindly.
    thx-1138_
  • RE: Some 40,000 college students studying on a Flat World

    EXCELlent! If only I hadn't been born before my time<g> I could have taken advantage of those, too. It's pure information at your fingertips, the whole purpose of the web in the first place.

    It's disheartening that just yesterday I read an article with just the opposite opinions, examples, numbers and success rates. I disagreed with it all the way thru, but what can you do?

    THIS article's approach is worth supporting in any way possible! Again, a great idea.
    twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
  • RE: Some 40,000 college students studying on a Flat World

    $18 is still too much the student. There is no reason the books cannot be $00.0(anywhere) for the download, and each student provided with a compatible computer for us IN the school and at home, for homework purposes.
    tomaaaaaa1