David Wiley is part of a startup called FlatWorld Knowledge. Their aim is to release digital textbooks free of charge, with students paying for the print copy if they want. What is more interesting though is the way they take the notion of the text book and make it more of a social object. So the educator can edit the book for their class, the student can interact with other students around it, and people can sell related services and content. In fact, when you view their little cartoons it makes you realise just how limited the traditional text book model is in education. Why didn't we do this years ago?
From my point of view, I have a book proposal and want a publisher. I am currently with Routledge, but they have a traditional attitude to publishing, they wouldn't even let me put a couple of chapters up on this blog. So what I want is a publisher who will allow me to give away the digital version, but still charge for the print version. So I contacted FlatEarth, but it seems that at the moment they're just focusing on Business books, as they're in startup mode. Makes sense I suppose, but it means I'll either have to find another publisher or wait for them to open up their portfolio a bit. Does anyone know a publisher who isn't living in the dark ages?