Flat World Knowledge, a startup company out of Nyack, New York, is stepping up against the traditional student textbook purchasing model, with its publishing of open-source commercial textbooks.
The company announced today it has raised $8 million in Series A funding, backed by Greenhill SAVP, High Peaks Venture Partners and Valhalla Partners.
Brian Hirsch, Managing Director of Greenhill SAVP explained, “The 8 billion annual college textbook publishing market is poised to undergo a radical transformation in the coming years similar to what we’ve experienced in the music and newspaper industries.” It’s an obvious trend that is quickly approaching – just a few years ago when I was in college, professors were scanning pages from textbooks and uploading to the Web for students to print out – understanding students couldn’t afford to purchase them.
Although Flat World Knowledge describes itself as, ‘open source,’ its business model is in no way, the free ‘open source,’ most of us are familiar with. Flat World Knowledge, offers several pricing options. Students and professors can either read the book online for free, download a printable version for around $20 dollars, or purchase a black and white soft-cover for about $30 dollars. Professors can also modify the textbooks if they feel the need to do so. As we all know, these prices are significantly cheaper than the usual $100-200 dollar texbooks plenty of students have been forced to pay for in the past.
Music, movies, photos and books have all begun the transformation into purely digital forms. Flat World Knowledge has clearly found that textbooks simply need to follow this transformation. Unfortunately for them, its just a matter of time before these textbooks are widely pirated by tech savvy students via torrents.
Flat World Knowledge plans to use the investment in order to scale its sales and marketing activities, and staff up a team to attract more authors.