Flat World Knowledge, a company that has built itself on the idea that everyone should have access to textbooks, is going to start charging for all of its content.

As of January 1, 2013, the site, which currently offers online content for free, will charge for all of the digital textbook content that it distributes. According to the company the free format had become “a barrier” to long-term growth. Here is more from the blog:

…we will no longer be providing students with free access to our textbooks. Yes, the free Web format is going away, but our mission to provide high quality course materials at affordable prices remains as strong as ever. Students can read a complete online textbook with our Study Pass product, which includes note-taking, highlighting and study aids, for only $19.95. Our prices remain significantly lower than the $100+ that students are used to paying for other commercial textbooks.

The Chicago Tribune has more: “Cost partly motivated the decision, according to Jeff Shelstad, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer. ‘We’ve got to be smart with the limited capital that we have’ if the company is to survive 10 years from now, he said.”