Open-Access Textbooks and Financial Sustainability: A Case Study on Flat World Knowledge

John Hilton III, David Wiley, Jun 30, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

From the newest issue of IRRODL, John Hilton III and David Wiley offer up a case study on Flat World Knowledge, the open content publisher with which they have been associated over the last few years. "57,690 students in 1,153 different classes used FWK textbooks during the first year the company was open to the public (10 textbooks were available at the time of this study)... A total of 16,461 print textbooks were purchased over the three semesters, generating $479,259 of revenue." However, "FWK published its first 10 textbooks at an average cost of approximately $150,000 per book." So we can see it would take about three years to recoup the cost of a textbook - if sales hold.
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