The idea behind open textbooks began with people frustrated with the industry, Frank says. The movement then led to non-profit aggregation platforms like Connexions at Rice University and the Global Text Project at the University of Georgia. But he believes they are one of the first to turn this into a commercial venture. "On the surface they're (traditional publishers) doing OK, but underneath the surface there are lots of problems," says Frank. "The internet has caused so much disruption in the distribution that there are so many used books and international books and pirated copies out there that after about two years, publishers have to bring out new editions in order to capture revenue again."
Frank says the firm is also in the process of releasing a version for Amazon's Kindle, but is working out several technical hurdles before finalizing anything. Amazon is thought to be toying with the idea of a Kindle marketed to the college crowd, and wired.com readers have been somewhat vocal about the need for textbook support in the device. Official launch is not until next January, when the company plans to offer eight textbooks, each written for Flat World by scholars who have also produced texts for some of the major publishing companies. It will test its
business model over the next semester in a private beta with more than 20 U.S. universities.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Open Text Book Revolution
Wired Magazine takes a look at start-up Flat World Knowledge that is looking to revolutionize the College textbook business: