A new high profile-backer for open source textbook firm Flat World Knowledge: Random House. The book publisher is investing an undisclosed amount in the startup as an add-on to its second round, which was announced earlier this year. The January funding round was led by Random House parent Bertelsmann through its Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments arm but Flat World Knowledge is calling Random House’s investment today “a separate, additional investment from the BDMI commitment.”
Flat World Knowledge makes its textbooks available for free online under a Creative Commons open license (so that teachers can update them as they wish) although it charges for print and various digital versions. The startup says that to date more than 1,600 professors at 900 colleges have used its books.
The company has said it is using its second funding round to pay for “the rapid expansion of (its) catalog beyond business and economics to include books for the 125 highest-enrolled courses on college campuses;” Random House, which notably does not sell textbooks, says in the release that Flat World Knowledge’s “forward-thinking digital initiatives and implementation complement ours” and that the two companies “share a strong drive to make high-quality academically-oriented content widely available and affordable for students and educators.”
Here’s Flat World Knowledge’s pitch: