Flat World Knowledge, the leading publisher of commercial open source college textbooks, today reported a dramatic increase in the number of colleges and classrooms adopting its textbooks. This Fall semester, over 40,000 college students at more than 400 colleges will utilize Flat World textbooks, up from only 1,000 in Spring 2009 at 30 colleges. The increased adoption of Flat World’s free and low-cost open source textbooks follows two semesters of successful in-classroom trials. During Spring 2009 trials, Flat World textbooks were shown to reduce average textbook costs to only $18 per student per class, an 82% cost reduction compared to traditional printed textbooks averaging $100 per student per class. “We’ll save college students and their families nearly $3 million in textbook expenses this semester,” said Eric Frank, Flat World Knowledge co-founder. “We’re on track to expand to 50,000 students in Spring 2010 and 120,000 students in Fall 2010. By the conclusion of 2010, Flat World will have conservatively saved 200,000 students over $15 million.”
In response to instructor and student demand, Flat World Knowledge has increased the number of titles under development. To date, the company’s titles have focused exclusively on business and economics. Flat World recently added titles to its pipeline in Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, College Success, Genetics, and more.
Flat World currently has 32 new titles in development, and by Summer 2010 will have 50 titles in development.
Digital textbooks have gained increased nationwide attention over the past two years as a potential solution to problem of high textbook costs. Yet, several digital-only field trials including those using digital e-reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle, have demonstrated mixed results because they forced rigid constraints upon students.
Flat World has succeeded by allowing students to consume the textbooks as they choose. Students can access entire textbooks for free online over Web browsers; 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. Books are available by the book or by the chapter. Students can also purchase digital study aids like audio study guides, online quizzes, digital flashcards, and more. Flat World’s approach is device agnostic, so students can use the books on their laptops, netbooks, favorite e-reading devices, web-enabled mobile phone, or by reading a traditional print copy.
“Traditional textbooks have clearly failed students and instructors,” added Eric Frank. “Similarly, digital textbook trials that force a single format, device, or price point will also fail. No single e-reading format or device will ever satisfy all students. Our commercial open source textbook approach puts control and the power of choice in the hands of students and instructors.”