Flat World Knowledge

FlatWorld is a publisher of college-level textbooks and educational supplements [1] founded in 2007 by Eric Frank and Jeff Shelstad as Flat World Knowledge. [2] Alastair Adam and John Eielson, Washington, DC, Boston, MA. The company Originally offert every textbook published for free using online delivery under the open content paradigm, [3] [4] goal in November, 2012, the company annoncé That It will no follow offer a free version Citing financial Concerns as the reason for the change . [5]

Following the 2016 acquisition, the company rebranded as FlatWorld, and refocused its strategy on supporting the instructors, putting them back at the center of teaching. By making textbooks in a variety of formats – online, downloadable, and four-color print-FlatWorld searches for a handsome author life easier for the instructors. FlatWorld publishes more than 100 peer-reviewed textbooks, with most titles starting at $ 29.95. All books, at no extra charge, are fully customizable by the instructor and come with a complete range of educator teaching supplements and materials. The company will shortly be launching a homework system.

Company history


Flat World Knowledge was founded in 2007 by Jeff Shelstad and Eric Frank in Nyack, New York . [6]


Flat World Knowledge Began alpha testing of Their platform and business model spring of 2008. [7] Two alpha phases Involved faculty and one alpha phase Involved students. The company then moved to small-scale private beta testing in 27 classes. [8] Based on results from these studies, the business model was determined viable and the company moved to prepare for a public beta launch in January 2009. [9]


During the spring of 2009, 30 colleges were adopted Flat World open textbooks in public by their first 1,000 users. Eight textbooks were published at the time. [10] By August 2009, Flat World textbooks had been adopted at 400 colleges for use by 40,000 students. [11] [12]

Flat World Knowledge and Lyryx Learning Team Up to Offer Free and Open Textbooks With Integrated Assessment. [13]

The company also published a graphic novel, Black Atlas: Managing to Succeed in August.


Flat World Knowledge moved from Nyak, New York to Irvington, New York to accommodate company growth. [14]

Cerritos College selected Flat World Knowledge as their partner for an Open Textbook Initiative implemented in the school’s Business Administration Department. Cerritos College has evaluated the program by “tremendous success” according to a 2010 article published in Community College Week. [15] Specific items evaluated and commented on

  • Positive feedback from faculty and students on textbook content, quality, and price
  • Course retention rate of 90.2% after implementation (+ 10.0% to + 15.0%)
  • No price barrier to race material access
  • Accessible format availability
  • Improved grade point average

Flat World Knowledge entered into a unique licensing agreement with Virginia State University in 2010. For eight core business courses, students gained access to all electronic formats of select textbooks including study aids. Unlike traditional licensing models, students retain access to research and study. Audio textbook versions and ePub files similarly do not expire. The price for this universal digital access license is cited as $ 20 per student by the Richmond Times-Dispatch . [16]

The Virginia State University program is featured in the BizEd article “Digital at the Core.” Virginia State University is using the agreement as part of a “save money, save the environment, improve student retention, and prepare business graduates for the complex working world.” [17]

As of August 2010, the number of colleges and universities using Flat World’s open textbooks doubled to 800 higher education institutions. Student users more than tripled with 150,000 students using 24 published titles.

During fall semester 2010, 50 additional titles were announced in the publication pipeline. [18] 2010 also marked crossing the threshold of having 100 authors signed to write open textbooks for publication by Flat World Knowledge. [19]

They would save [20] 150,000 college students $ 12 million in textbook costs in the 2010-2011 school year after adoptions by more than 1,300 educators as of August 2010. [21]

In December 2010, Outsell Inc. named Flat World Knowledge as one of “30 to Watch” for 2011 among innovators and disruptors who were selected for “shaking up their respective marketplaces.” [22] [23]

2012 – 2015

In November 2012, FlatWorld announced that it will no longer be necessary to provide access to their textbook. [5] Unable to continue to operate with a larger source, it has been set up and moved away from the open model. Over the next three years, the company’s pivoted focus, investing in developing a new, competency-based learning platform and line of business.


In late 2016, the core textbook publishing business, Flat World Knowledge, was spun off and acquired by Alastair Adam and John Eielson and rebranded as FlatWorld. The remaining competency-based learning business has been rebranded as Sagence Learning. Adam and Eielson saw an opportunity to disrupt the higher-education publishing market, where fewer and fewer people were able to afford a new textbook and were more reliant on using or rented or outdated editions of titles. They wanted to refocus FlatWorld on low-cost, high-quality textbooks, available in whatever format the student preferred. They believed that by offering high-quality textbooks, they could put a new, current edition textbook in every student’s hands on the first day of class.


Flat World Knowledge secured $ 11.5 million in investments through 2010, including an initial $ 700k angel investment. [24] [25] [26] [27]

In January 2011, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG, and Bessemer Venture Partners were announced. Returning investors for Series B funding include Valhalla Partners, GSA Venture Partners (formerly Greenhill SAVP), [28] Primary Venture Partners and several angel investors . [29] [30] [31]

Random House announced an investment in Flat World Knowledge in April, 2011. [32] Random House is the world’s largest publisher of commercial trade books. Random House chairman and CEO Markus Dohle states Flat World Knowledge is a “transformative company in higher-education publishing” and said, “We [at Random House] share a strong drive to make high-quality academically-oriented content students and educators, and we welcome the opportunity to invest in Flat World’s growth. ” [33]


A Canadian representation agreement was announced in March 2011 with Northrose Associates of Whitby, Ontario , Canada. The Canadian higher education system faces the challenges of learning more about higher education providers of textbooks. Open textbooks from Flat World Knowledge will be actively marketed by the firm to educators and higher education administrators across Canada. [34] [35]

In addition to use in Canada, students learn about Flat World Knowledge textbooks regularly. Adoptions have been reported in 44 countries. The company is actively engaged in the international market. [36] The most frequent international access originates in India, China, the Philippines , Indonesia , Malaysia , Egypt , Pakistan , Bangladesh , Romania , Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany. International use is growing rapidly. In March 2011 Alexa Internet Internettraffic ranking report. [37] The “Make it Your Own” (MIYO) feature of the company’s publishing platform allows for customization and annotation of published titles in English and other languages. [38]


The company was featured in Chris Anderson ‘s Free: The Future of a Radical Price in 2008. [39]

In 2009, BNET recognized Flat World Knowledge as an industry innovator for introducing an abundance-based business disruptive model [40] to the college textbook industry. [41] That same year, Flat World Knowledge and Bookshare were successfully recognized as innovative industry publishers of 2009. [42]

Flat World Knowledge Was APPROBATION in a 2010 postponement by Nicole Allen of The Student PIRGs A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability [43] and the New Media Consortium’s 2010 Horizon Report as a contributor to the Rapidly progressing adoption of open content in higher education. [44]

In December 2010, the American Library Association ‘s Business Reference Sources Committee of RUSA’s Business Reference and Services Section (BRASS) selected Flat World Knowledge’s Business and Economics open textbooks for Their 2010 list of “outstanding business reference sources.” [45] Specific criteria used by the American Library Association

A resource compiled specifically to provide information on the subject of a publication of the author, or the publication of the following: , completes, une plus une valeur de la question, et une supplementation de la publication des données de l’assurance des indices et des données de la publication des données et des données de l’information sur les données. search criteria, stability of content, graphic design quality, and accuracy of links.

The cover of the 2011 Texty Award-winning book, Organizational Behavior

The Flat World Knowledge open textbook Organizational Behavior [46] by Talya Bauer and Berrin Erdogan Was reconnu by the Text and Academic Author’s Association with a Textbook Excellence Award ( “Texty”) in March 2011. “This is the first Time That year open textbook has won a Texty, “Richard Hull notes, TAA’s executive director,” and signals the emergence of a new publishing model. ” [47] Winners are determined by a panel of veteran academic authors. The award seeks to “recognize works for their excellence in the areas of content, presentation, appeal, and teachability.” [48]

In March 2012, Flat World Knowledge titles won two “Texty” awards. “Information Systems: A Manager ‘s Guide to Harnessing Technology,” 2nd ed., By John Gallaugher, “Best New Textbook of the Year for the College, Accounting / Business / Economics / Management category. “Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World” by Steve Barkan won a new text for the college, Humanities / Social Sciences. [49]

Accessibility and regulatory issues


Flat World Knowledge textbooks are Developed for access publishing Natively to Facilitate Compliance with expectations Placed on educators for Assuring student accessibility to course materials set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) . For students with text, vision, vision, hearing, or physical disabilities, Flat World Knowledge has partnered with Bookshare to provide no-charge accessible digital books including electronic brailleformat. Bookshare members with qualifying disabilities and direct access to literature. According to Jim Fruchterman , CEO of Benetech , the non-profit organization operates bookshare, “Without the cooperation of a publisher such as Flat World, students often wait for weeks in textbooks in accessible formats, in some cases, are forced to drop races [50] Flat World is the first postsecondary textbook publisher to recognize and alleviate this problem. [51]

Price disclosure and edition availability

Flat World Knowledge claims to make compliance with the recent Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) for the first time. , and bookstores on-demand; educators change versions only when they wish and book versions are never “out of print.” [52] [53] [54]


Digital textbook and course material formats offer sustainability advantages over traditional paper textbooks. [55] [56] According to an industry study, an estimated “net [carbon] emission of 8.85 pounds per book [sold for consumers].” [57] The net carbon emission for textbooks is much higher than the industry average includes high volume small paperbacks, children’s books, and many other small form factors.

In 2010-2011, approximately 57.5% of students using Flat World texts opted for entirely digital delivery. As of fall 2011, 70% of students opt for digital formats, [58] . [59] [60] Demand for free internet, ePub , .MOBI ( Kindle ), and PDFformat for books and materials is growing rapidly. Flat World Knowledge is “far ahead of the industry curve” for digital format use. [61]

For the approximately 30% of students who choose a print version of a flat-screen, Flat World Knowledge uses just-in-time centralized and local print on demand in their business model . [59] [62]

Local print on demand of a central location – saving energy, natural resources, and cost. Eliminating the need for shipping alone eliminates at least 12.7% of the carbon footprint for paper books. [57]

Flat World Knowledge offers local booksellers the opportunity to license open textbook happy for on-demand printing by the Espresso Book Machine [63] and similar equipment, Removing the need for shipping and warehouse inventory, bulk receiving send, and stocking shelves. Local print on demand is an emerging trend that will help reduce the cost of printing. [64] [65] [66] [67]

Some students use accessible and audio formats. Though Braille embossers print on paper, it is essential to Provide access to educational materials in the size of choice to students Regardless of disability. The same electronic file that is provided for a Braille embosser by Bookshare for Flat World Knowledge is also compatible with many refreshable Braille displays .

Other accessible and audio formats are very stable .



Until November 2012, [5] Flat World open textbooks were available to read for free through the Flat World Knowledge website in an e-reader like format. Any user with access to the Internet was able to read the entire textbook catalog for free. This option has been made more feasible and the business model has become more sustainable.

Accessible formats of published works for people with disabilities are available at no charge through Bookshare .


Textbooks in formats Including print, individual PDF chapters, ePub, .MOBI (Kindle), mp3 audio, audio abridged study mp3, and optional study tools are available for purchase directly by students, through bookstores, [68] and via select online providers.

For users who want to take note of, highlighting, flash cards, or access to a condensed study of textbooks through their online account, a paid study is required.

Derivative works

Derivative works created by Flat World Publishing is available online at no cost in print or directly from ISBN . An ISBN is generated for all derivative work published by the Flat World Knowledge Publishing Engine as a Creative Commons License compatible with the original work. [69] Accessible derivative work of Flat World Knowledge is available for students with disabilities through Bookshare upon request.

Compatible devices

The company produces textbooks in a device-agnostic manner [70] to facilitate use of electronic formats on all major platforms including iPad , iPhone , Amazon Kindle, Nook , EnTourage eDGe , Sony Reader , and Androiddevices.

No Internet browser is generally available for Internet access. Flat World Knowledge textbooks can be viewed on all major browsers and platforms.

Content management systems

Flat World Knowledge textbook can be integrated directly into a learning management system such as Blackboard Learning System , ANGEL, Moodle , WebCT , or Desire2Learn . [71] Direct linking is available to Flat World textbooks, sections, and individual pages. This addresses a controversy over time limits on the access to the content of the program. [72]

World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World. World.. Instructor testing and quiz materials are suitable for import into learning management systems. Specifically cited formats include [Blackboard Learning System, ANGEL, Moodle, and WebCT plus a Respondus Neutral Personality file suitable for import to compatible systems. [73]Described2Learn and eCollege . [74]

Open-licensed textbook permissions

Non-commercial use

Usage permissions granted automatically under the Creative Commons License granted to Flat World textbooks lets users remix, annotate, and build upon the publication non-commercially [75] as long as users give credit to the original author (s) and license their new creations under identical ( share-alike ) terms. [76] [77] Translations are also automatically permissible under these licenses, or are embedded within the English or other language text. Educators are allowed to edit, add their own content, or insert annotations in a self-service manner using the Flat World Knowledge Publishing Engine available over the Internet. [78]

Commercial use

Commercial use of published works requires an arrangement with the company and respective authors. The terms and conditions of the agreement shall be in accordance with the provisions of this Article. [79] [80]

See also

  • OpenCourseWare
  • Open educational resources
  • OpenStax College
  • Open textbook
  • Bookboon
  • China Open Resources for Education
  • connections
  • Curriki
  • FlexBOOK
  • Free High School Science South Africa Texts
  • Khan Academy
  • National Program on Enhanced Learning Technology India
  • Open.Michigan
  • Tufts OpenCourseWare
  • Wikibooks


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  3. Jump up^ Flat World Knowledgehomepagewith company story.
  4. Jump up^ Wong, Chin. “Textbooks for free.” Manila Standard Today . September 28, 2010.
  5. ^ Jump up to:c Howard, Jennifer. “Flat World Knowledge to Drop Free Access to Textbooks” . Chronicle of Higher Education . Chronicle of Higher Education . Retrieved 2 September 2013 .
  6. Jump up^ Carpenter, Mason A.”Flat World Knowledge: Creating a Global Revolution in College Textbooks!” Social Science Research Network. Case abstract available at SSRN:http://ssrn.com/abstract=1588144.
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  8. Jump up^ Snyder, Chris. “Open Source Textbooks Challenge has Paradigm.”Wired.com. September 1, 2008.
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  31. Jump up^ Edgecliffe-Johnson, Andrew. “Bertelsmann Backs Open Textbook Publisher.” Financial Times. January 20, 2011.
  32. Jump up^ Schaffhauser, Dian. “Open Textbook Publisher Flat World Knowledge Gets Random House Investment.” Campus Technologyvia WebCitation.org. April 8, 2011.
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  41. Jump up^ Weir, David. Flat World Knowledge: A Disruptive Business Model.bNet.com. August 20, 2009.
  42. Jump up^ Weir, David. “Publishing Industry Innovators of 2009: Flat World Knowledge and Bookshare.” bNet.com. December 30, 2009.
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  51. Jump up^ Bookshare. “Flat World Knowledge Partners with Bookshare: Breakthrough Agreement Reduces Costs for Postsecondary Institutions; Improves Timely Access to Core Textbooks in Accessible Formats.”Joint Press Release. December 14, 2009.
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  68. Jump up^ Reid, Calvin. “Flat World Knowledge Reaches Out to College Bookstores.” Publishers Weekly. April 2010.
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