has commented on Flat World Knowledge’s abandonment of the free etextbook business model, explaining to their users that they will not be forced to do the same.

According to Bookboon, Flat World Knowledge did not have a functioning business model around their free access etextbooks because they never made money directly from the free traffic. Their financial success relied on the conversion of free users to paying customers.

However, Bookboon’s model sidesteps this problem by inserting a limited number of adverts from employers inside of the etextbook. These advertisements are geared toward the subject of the etextbook, highlighting future career opportunities and relevant information to students. Bookboon says that 15% advertising space inside of the etextbooks makes the concept possible, which equates to about one advert for every 15-20 minutes of reading.

Bookboon stated that their model is sustainable, with their traffic growing 100% on average per year since 2009, and claimed that 40 million etextbooks will have been downloaded by the end of 2012. They further explained their sustainability by mentioning that their growth was financed by retained earnings only. That means they have not taken any outside investments, which is rare for providers of free education material.

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