Tag Archive: flat world knowledge
Many professors, especially those teaching article-heavy classes in the social sciences, skip textbooks entirely, opting to offer course readers instead. Course readers mix together articles, notes and textbook clippings that are directly related to the course. They are updated frequently and cost about $30 to around $80, which compared to the price of a new textbook is cheap–though they can go up above a hundred depending on the course. They are specifically designed for that course, usually by professors, which reduces the cost of wasted, unread pages.
The Stanford Flipside blog has a graphic opinion on course reader prices
Looking from that standpoint, readers seem like an easy, cheap and smart alternative to textbooks. Unfortunately, readers come with as many flaws as they do perks. The largest flaw? They can’t be resold. Textbook retailers are uninterested, and while you might get a few bucks from a future student, but course readers can change each year.
Another very simple flaw is that most of the information in readers can be found online, more often than not, for free. The cost of course readers comes from printing costs, but more than that, reprint fees that professors pay in order to reproduce the article or page in print. But when many news sites have free archives online, and most schools offer some sort of academic journal collection free for students, it’s a tough sell. Couldn’t students just click links for free?
This is the final post in a three-part interview with Eric Frank, the founder and president of Flat World Knowledge, a leader in open-source and digital textbooks. You can find first part of our interview here and the second here.
The biggest points brought up this week were:
- PUBLISHING PROCESS COSTS: “I think that at some point the real pain in the industry is having to invest a lot in switching to getting a publishing process that gets your costs down dramatically that allows you to price at a very different price point for digital.”
- CREDIBILITY OF EBOOKS: “I also think that the online industry is missing a rating/credibility system, as you alluded to. There’s nothing besides professor’s choosing by adoption, nothing tells a teacher what’s a better version of a basic algebra book out there is.”
Jeff Cohen, The Textbook Guru: How is your pricing in comparison to a new or a used book?
Eric Frank, Flat World Knowledge: By and large our e-books are priced at 25 dollars, so for that e-book you pay 25. For a black and white book you pay 35 and for a color book you pay 70. So for an audio book you play about 39 dollars depending on the book. So that’s where we are at. So by and large certainly the black and white book will always be less then any other book than any other option on the market. Color book sort of becomes competitive with used book prices generally on a color book.
Last week, I sat down with Eric Frank, the founder and president of Flat World Knowledge, a leader in open-source and digital textbooks. You can find first part of our interview here, and stay tuned for part three later this week.
The biggest points brought up this week were:
- FLAT WORLD KNOWLEDGE: “I think we’re certainly going to be over 3,000 unique faculty, 1,800 colleges and some where in the neighborhood of a couple hundred thousand students when the doors open in the fall. And by then we’ll have 40 books published that we would marketing in the fall semester.”
- ONE PURCHASE, MULTIPLE PLATFORMS: “What we are saying is: so, you bought a book from us and we are going to give these files and you are going to be able to access these files via your handheld device or on your desktop, or on your iPhone via the scan reader that reads the e-pub file. So, by and large, you are making one purchase and you are getting an e-book that renders in multiple places for you.”
- CUSTOMIZABILITY: “And we have a platform on that site called M.I.Y.O. or “make it your own,” that allows someone to go in someone to drag and drop table of contents into a different order; click trashcans to delete things that they don’t cover; click any paragraph or act in the book and edit it directly online using a browser based editor; upload PDF’s; insert YouTube videos; and do all that in a pretty simple interface.”
- REPLACING STANDARD TEXTBOOKS: “It wouldn’t be very difficult to market to the Campbell Biology users and say, ‘there’s an alterative, try it for two weeks and if it isn’t working for you, then buy Campbell.’ “
Jeff Cohen, The Textbook Guru: What numbers you are allowed to share, can you share some numbers about titles that you have, adoptions, numbers of colleges–where you guys are currently at, or what you are expecting for August? It is my belief that the buzz of 2010 was the rental buzz. We saw the market go from three rental players to 10 or 11rental players last August, and it seems like the buzz leading up to August this year is really going to be around the e-textbook as people are really starting to understand the difference between e-book and an e-textbook, and a lot more players are entering the field. So, do you think, could you speak to your adoptions, your number of titles and schools you are currently covering or you are expecting on covering for the August back to school period?
This week, I sat down with Eric Frank, the founder and president of Flat World Knowledge. Eric has over 11 years of astounding success in higher education publishing before breaking the mold with Flat World Knowledge. If you haven’t heard about them, its about time you did. They are changing the textbook game, leading the pack in digital open and free college textbooks.
This is the first part of a three-part discussion with Eric, also available below in Podcast form below, about our experience with digital and how it’s rapidly changing the textbook environment.
The biggest points brought up:
- OPEN SOURCE CONTENT: “That’s a big debate in the context of 80% of jobs in 2020 are requiring degrees and 40% of people will have them. What barriers can we remove and just the whole question of free content in whatever publishing or information field you are in, what is that about—open systems and open source supplies for more and more things”
- THE COST OF DIGITAL: “I think people are looking to technology to keep costs down, and I think that it is often over looked in the tech debate but probably one of the greatest reasons tech gets adopted across lots and lots of markets—cause it’s driving costs of things way down.”
- DIGITAL PLATFORMS: “I actually think of open content being more of the ‘car,’ and the things like Blackboard delivery or Inkling delivery on an iPad as being more of the highway that it is driving on. I’m not sure that they are mutually exclusive.”
- WHERE CHANGE WILL HAPPEN: “If the question is ‘where digital will be implemented faster,’ it probably will be higher ed.”
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