FlatWorld is a publisher of college-level textbooks and educational supplements [1] founded in 2007 as Flat World Knowledge by Eric Frank and Jeff Shelstad. [2] t was acquired at the end of 2016 by Alastair Adam and John Eielson and its company headquarters was moved from Washington, DC to 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 sufficiently affordable and available in multiple formats – online, downloadable, and four-color print-FlatWorld seeks to enable all students to purchase their own, current textbook and have it in their hands for the first day of class 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 educative 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 to be viable .


During spring of 2009, 30 colleges adopted Flat World open textbooks in public beta bringing the company 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, Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed in August.


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

Cerritos College selected the World School of Business Administration. Cerritos College evaluated the program and determined it to “tremendous success” according to a 2010 article published in Community College Week. [15] Specific items evaluated and commented on are:

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

Flat World Knowledge entered into a single licensing agreement with Virginia State University in 2010. For eight core business courses, students gain access to all of the electronic formats of textbooks including study aids. Unlike traditional licensing models, students retain access to course materials and study aids indefinitely through their Flat World student account. 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 a university degree in economics, economics, economics, economics and economics. [17]

As of August 2010, the number of colleges and universities using Flat World 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]

Flat World Knowledge Claimed That icts in second full academic year of operation, 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 their respective marketplaces.” [22] [23]

2012 – 2015

In November 2012, FlatWorld announced that it would not be able to make any changes to its content. [5] Unable to continue to operate without a way to generate greater revenue, it instituted a paywall and moved away from the open model. Over the next three years, the company 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 Sagence Learning. Adam and Eielson saw an opportunity to disrupt the higher-education publishing market, where fewer and fewer students were able to afford a new textbook and were increasingly connected on used, 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 at affordable prices, 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, $ 15 million in Series B funding by Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG, and Bessemer Venture Partners was 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 annoncé year investment in Flat World Knowledge in April, 2011. [32] Random House is the World’s Largest publisher of trade books business. Random House chairman and CEO Markus Dohle states “We [at Random House] are a” transformative company in higher-education publishing “and have a high-quality academic-oriented content widely available and affordable for Students and educators, and we have 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 challenges similar to US higher education providers from the ever escalating costs of traditional college 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, worldwide learners are accessing Flat World Knowledge textbooks regularly. Adoptions have been reported in 44 countries. The company actively promotes use of their free and open textbook delivery platform to advance education internationally. [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 usage is growing rapidly. In March 2011 alone traffic Increased enough in oven countries to be added to the Cited Alexa Internet traffic ranking postponement. [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 disruptive business model [40] to the college textbook industry. [41] That same year, Flat World Knowledge and Bookshare were jointly recognized as publishing industry innovators 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 supply information on a certain subject or group of subjects in a form that will facilitate its ease of use.” The works are examined for authority and reputation of the publisher, author, or editor; , Each of which is an integral part of the content of the text. The aim of this paper is to provide a framework for the development of a broad academic and public libraries program.

The Flat World Knowledge open textbook Organizational Behavior [46] by Talya Bauer and Berrin Erdogan was recognized by the Text and Academic Author’s Association with a Textbook Excellence Award (“Texty”) in March 2011. “This is the first time that an open textbook Has won a Texty, “notes Richard Hull, 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 recognizes the excellence of the work 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 “Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World” by Steve Barkan 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 and hearing, or physical disabilities, Flat World Knowledge has partnered with Bookshare to provide no-charge digital books including an electronic Braille format. Bookshare members with qualifying disabilities on the Internet. According to Jim Fruchterman , CEO of Benetech , the non-profit organization that operates Bookshare, “Without the cooperation of a publisher such as Flat World, drop races [50] due to Lack of available books. Flat World is the first postsecondary textbook publisher to Recognize and Alleviate this problem. ” [51] the non-profit organization That Operates Bookshare, “Without the cooperation of a publisher Such As Flat World, students Often wait for weeks to get textbooks in available formats and, In Some boxes are forced to drop courses [50] due to Lack of Accessible books. “” World World is the first postsecondary textbook publisher to recognize and alleviate this problem. ” [51] the non-profit organization That Operates Bookshare, “Without the cooperation of a publisher Such As Flat World, students Often wait for weeks to get textbooks in available formats and, In Some boxes are forced to drop courses [50] due to Lack of Accessible books. “” World World is the first postsecondary textbook publisher to recognize and alleviate this problem. ” [51]

Price disclosure and edition availability

Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) is a comprehensive, comprehensive and comprehensive online resource for the education and training community. , And bookstores on-demand; Educators change versions only when they want 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 a publishing industry study, an estimated “net [carbon] emission of 8.85 pounds per book. [57] The net carbon emission for textbooks is much higher as the industry average includes high volume small paperbacks, children’s books, and many other small form factors popular with consumers.

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 PDF is fast growing. 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 on a digital one, Flat World Knowledge uses just-in-time centralized and local print on their business model . [59] [62]

Local print on demand of licensed glad offers environmental benefits by saving the need to Produce, store, and ship books from a central location – saving energy, natural resources, and cost. 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 costs of textbooks as they become available. [64] [65] [66] [67]

Some students use access and audio formats. Though Braille embossers print on paper, it is essential to provide access to educational materials in the format of choice to students regardless of disability. Braille embosser by Bookshare for Flat World Knowledge Open textbooks is also compatible with many refreshable Braille displays .

Other accessible and audio mp3 formats are very sustainable as they are electronic.



Until November 2012, [5] Flat World open textbooks were 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 eliminated because of the many options and the FWK business model was unsustainable.

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


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

For users who desire note taking, highlighting, flash cards, or access to a condensed study.

Derivative works

Derivative works created through the Flat World publishing engine . ISBN . An ISBN is for Creative Commons license Creative Commons license Creative Commons license Creative Commons License [69] Accessible derivatives work of Flat World Knowledge titles are made 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 publishing formats including iPad , iPhone , Amazon Kindle, Nook , EnTourage eDGe , Sony Reader , and Android devices.

No Internet browser prefers to book online. Flat World Knowledge textbooks can be viewed on all major browsers and platforms.

Content management systems

Flat World Knowledge textbook content can be integrated 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 paper discusses the importance of learning and learning. [72]

Flat World Knowledge provides instructor resources including test banks and reading slides to registered and verified educators at no charge. 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] Compatible systems cited by Respondus include Desire2Learn and eCollege . [74]

Open-licensed textbook permissions

Non-commercial use

Usage permissions granted automatically under the Creative Commons license attributed to Flat World textbooks lets users remix, annotate, and build on the non-commercial publication [75] as long as users give credit to the original author (s) Identical ( share-alike ) terms. [76] [77] Translations are also automatically permissible under these licenses, either complete or as 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. Authors and the company are entitled to royalties from commercial use in accordance with the terms of the contract. [79] [80]


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