Flat World Knowledge and Bookshare Partner For Accessible College eTextbooks


Flat World Knowledge, publisher of digital college textbooks, and Bookshare, the accessible online library for people with print disabilities, have announced a content partnership for college textbooks. Flat World, which was founded in February, publishes open college textbooks, meaning they can be custom tailored online for particular classes; so far the company has 480 participating colleges. The online books themselves are free, and Flat World’s makes money by selling things like black and white or color versions of the custom books.

The agreement initially covers eleven titles, with an additional fifty in the works to be released over the next two years. Flat World will provide XML files of their textbooks directly to Bookshare, which will make them available to its 75,000 members through its online system.

Eric Frank, co-founder of Flat World, told eBookNewser his company sees three major advantages of this deal: first, said Frank, “it’s morally the right thing to do.” Second, it’s in sync with national accessibility goals; finally, “we do believe if all other things are equal, if a faculty member is evaluating our book and someone else’s, this can be a decisive factor–this can be read by everybody.”

The usual method for providing textbooks to visually impaired students is to hand-scan them, which, according to Betsy Burgess, director of marketing for Bookshare,”introduces errors into students’ textbooks, and can cost anywhere from 11 to 1,000 dollars per book. Flatworld are the first to provide digital files from the beginning, so this means that all those kids who have print disabilities and are dropping out will have better chances at an eduction.”