FlatWorld Returns to Its Roots

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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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Are college textbooks worth the money?

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Each semester begins with both excitement and nervousness as students mill about campus trying to find their classes and figure out where they can do homework between classes.

Inevitably, many conversations heard by a passerby will pertain to what students believe are outrageous textbook prices. From a $182.70 sociology textbook to an $18 women’s and gender studies book, students seem to always have an opinion on what they’re paying.

Iowa State estimates undergraduate students will spend more than $500 on textbooks and supplies each semester in the 2018-19 academic year.

The cost at the University Bookstore has lead many students to pursue alternative purchasing options like Amazon.

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The know-it-all’s guide to getting your textbooks

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Students at private universities spend an average $1,200 a year on textbooks, according to the College Board. The TCU Office of Financial Aid puts the average for TCU students’ book and supplies at $970.

This can often leave first-year students asking how to get the best deals and when to buy textbooks. Well, we’ve rounded up some options to answer that very question.

Dr. Kassia Waggoner, a professor of English and Women and Gender studies, recommends students buy or rent their textbooks as early in the semester as they can.

“I am a literature and composition professor, so I can tell you that in my classes, it is essential to buy or rent the books right away,” said Waggoner.

However, she does suggest waiting until you see the syllabus for some classes.

“Some classes may not depend on the book as much, so I recommend waiting until after you see the syllabus before buying a textbook,” she said. “If you see that reading quizzes are a part of your grade, that’s a sign that you should definitely buy or rent the textbook for the course.”

As for where to get those books, here are some tips from upper-division students to be passed down:

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iFlipd and GoFundMe Make Paying for Textbooks Easier for College Students

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iFlipd, the only pay-as-you-go weekly textbook rental provider, announced a new partnership with GoFundMe, the world’s largest social fundraising platform, so college students can raise money from family, friends, and community organizations to help pay for their textbooks needs. All of the contributions raised go straight to the cost of the textbooks, so their supporters know their money is well spent.

“Paying for college is hard enough and many students can use some help. Our pay-as-you-go weekly textbook solution provides a flexible experience at an affordable price,” said Kati Radziwon, iFlipd CEO and founder. “GoFundMe is the number one fundraiser for textbook costs to date and our partnership with them extends our simple and flexible payment process to a wider and needed audience.”

“With college tuition on the rise, it’s more important than ever to help support students pursuing their higher education,” said Rob Solomon, GoFundMe CEO. “Many students have a network of family and friends who are ready to help them out with expenses like textbooks. With this new partnership with iFlipd, we’re excited to make it easier and faster for college students to get the financial support they need.”

How can students start to raise money?
The process is simple for students to get started:

  1. Create a free iFlipd account
  2. Set up their GoFundMe account
  3. Share their story, invite family & friends to help fund their textbooks
  4. Apply the funds directly through iFlipd to rent and pay for textbooks

Why iFlipd?
As the only pay-as-you-go weekly textbook rental provider, iFlipd allows students to pay for only the time they need through weekly rentals. Students instantly have access to the books they need in print and eBook format. Students can return them any time they like while earning reward points each time.

OU to begin using Open Textbook Network, a free textbook resource

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Textbook prices can drastically affect a student’s bank account, but faculty members at Ohio University Libraries are looking to reduce those costs.

Open Textbook Network, or OTN, a resource for peer-reviewed academic textbooks, will start being used on campus come fall semester.

Kelly Broughton, the assistant dean for research & education services at OU, said, as a member of OTN, OU Libraries now has access to a suite of materials to adapt to the faculty at OU in support of efforts to reduce the costs of course materials to students.

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Free online textbook library launches for Ontario students

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An online library of free open-source textbooks has just launched this month for post-secondary students across Ontario, with a $1-million investment from the provincial government for more content on the way.

Created by eCampus Ontario, a not-for-profit corporation that works on projects for the province’s post-secondary institutions, the Open Textbook Library (OTL) currently has just over 180 textbooks in its database that are freely available to read and download.

According to Deb Matthews, the Ontario minister of advanced education and skills development, the library is based off of a similar OTL project in British Columbia that’s been running since 2012.

“If British Columbia is any example, they’ve saved students about four and a half million dollars over the past few years since they’ve launched, and we’ve got three times as many students. So this will be a big cost-saver,” Matthews said.

The $1-million investment will go into creating more learning material for the library, with a focus on increasing French language and Indigenous content, as well as adapting existing material for other fields.

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Here’s how to save big on your textbook rentals

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As if college tuition wasn’t bad enough, textbook costs are also through the roof (some cost upwards of $250). And by the time you graduate, it’s safe to say you’ve spent $1,000+ on books alone.

Luckily, Amazon offers a textbook rental system that can save you up to 90 percent on new and used textbooks. The giant online retailer guarantees the correct edition of the book by having you search using its ISBN number. And if you prefer to go green and paperless, they even offer deals on e-textbooks.

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