Flat World Thoughts:


FlatWorld Knowledge Publishers

All you need is a smart person to write a book. Then how much does it cost to print what they write? not 180 bucks? if you go the their site, it is hard to discover how much they cost to print. only the online version is free. I go there and try to read for free and it keeps asking me to check out. Hmmm?

  • open textbook, where authors get cash from use in a flat-fee model of sorts.

They like the thing about getting a pro to write a book as you know. Distribution/conversion to atoms is where the money is made. And the whole thing with professors being able to alter it is sort of interesting but only this week. It’s a convenience to have the words in the earlier text not as a printed supplement. If the way it sells is still the same then they had other folks make the work more attractive with a “cynical” belief that it will be ordered and printed by professionals, and this is just the professional demo copy going out the door for free. Who wants a textbook for personal use? If you are NOT a professional they say, but I could not, use and play with the material all day. If you are a pro, then they still get paid and you do not. Not unfair, but not exactly altruistic either.

Author keeps copyright, and FW gets royalty rights and they give it up only if the authors don’t sell well. Which is OK for them as well. It takes the sting out of a technicality. They don’t want the rights to a stinker. Cash flows back to Flatworld for all of the stuff that is distributed/sold. But these authors are selected by them and they are choosing folks who are not going to be a pain to work with. While established publishing houses have authors and editors who may be smart but also a pain in the neck to work with. So FW does a nice job with this and it looks very nice, but they are a small group who are in the business of intellectual property rights, and their authors are not doing God’s work for nothing, but they are hungry and are maybe getting a better deal, but the lawyers who are drawing up these contracts are still designed to make sure the folks taking the risk are making the money.

Nonetheless this all seems like an advertising gimmick unless they are way cheaper and AS good. They talk up the “print versions” at length and are nervous about the model of digital books. How can they last?


  • affordable flexible delivery model: sort of cynical

Assumption: students will not read on line. yet it is cheap(er) I assume… and the audio and pdf’s and print is a price, right? http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/398116-Number_of_Students_Colleges_Using_Flat_World_Knowledge_Digital_Texts_Soars.php This is wal-mart for texts. Efficiency sells. However the iPad and that kind of reader will mess that up right? http://industry.bnet.com/media/10006436/a-cheap-apple-ipad-could-short-circuit-publishers-victory-over-amazon/?tag=content;top-active#comments .

Textbook companies sell four-color print version of hardbacks that can be rented or sold back, and FW sells ancillaries (socks with those new shoes) and color versions for 60 bucks. this is not impossibly cheap if you like Mankiw for econ or so on… the stuff that FlatWorld does can be adopted by current publishers EXCEPT for all the authors and staff that are on contract to the old version… these guys are businessmen from Pearson who anticipated just-in-time printing by others. They thought through things that are a bit smelly in publishing that do not cost them anything, and as a new business got rid of some of these. But otherwise they are just efficient. One tenth of a 6 billion dollar industry works fine for them I bet, but they aren’t the heroes of the technology revolution, they are just the first guys to aggressively take advantage of the current model of publishing with current technology.


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