Founded in 2007 by Eric Frank and Jeff Shelstad, FlatWorld Knowledge was intended to combat the high cost of college textbooks by publishing low-cost, quality educational materials, often in digital formats. Over the years, however, the company shifted from its original plans in the textbook market to focus on other educational materials offering higher margins.

In 2016, the company was acquired by Alastair Adam and John Eielson, two information publishing entrepreneurs who returned FlatWorld to its original concept of providing students access to high-quality textbooks at low prices. “We saw that FlatWorld had a lot of goodwill in the marketplace and that there was a lot of recognition of the brand,” Adam said. They dropped the word knowledge from the name and rebranded the company FlatWorld, and moved it from the Washington D.C. area to the Boston area, where their previous ventures had been located.

Adam described a textbook marketplace that is currently divided between traditional publishers charging high prices for their titles and open source vendors offering free digital content. Adam said there’s a third way: a sustainable business model based on fair pricing. In an online article addressing the issue, Adam wrote that publishers “can set prices that are fair to all involved parties—students, authors, and publishers.”

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