Open Ed’s Business Woes: Textbook Pioneer Flat World Knowledge To Revoke Free Access To Texts

Rip Empson | TechCrunch | November 6, 2012

This week, Campus Marketplace reported that Flat World Knowledge has been forced to drop its free access to textbooks. The decision was made largely because of the cost of supporting free access. In other words it was a business decision that many have or will face as part of the shift to open learning.

Flat World offers its learning content for free, but charges for more convenient ways to access material for print or beefed-up versions and for study aids. By eliminating its free option, the company hopes to make its pricing more equitable for all of its institutional partners so that everyone is paying the same price.

The company will still offer bookstore partners to its so-called “All Access Pass” that includes a digital version of its textbooks, such as eBook files, PDFs, audio, HTML functionality and study aids for $28 and will sell the pass on its homepage for $35. Textbooks themselves will start at $19.95...