Policy & Advocacy

Opposing Cengage/McGraw-Hill Merger

SPARC is Working to Prevent a Duopoly over College Textbooks

On May 1, 2019, Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education — two of the three largest college textbook publishers — announced plans to merge. If permitted by regulators, the merger would turn the college textbook market into an effective duopoly, dominated by the combined post-merger company (which will carry the McGraw-Hill brand) and a single rival, Pearson. This proposed merger would have drastic negative consequences for competition and student consumers in an industry that has already engaged in decades of relentless price increases that have made higher education harder to afford. Furthermore, as textbook publishers accelerate their transition to digital materials, a merger of this size could be a step toward forming a new data giant in the education sector.

SPARC submitted a detailed filing to the Department of Justice on August 14, 2019 opposing the merger on the grounds that it would violate federal antitrust thresholds, increase the cost of college textbooks, and reduce student choice. We continue to seek opportunities to educate policymakers and antitrust enforcers about the harms of the merger, along with broader issues around the academic publishing industry’s shift toward data and data analytics as a core business.

Letters Opposing the Merger

Ongoing Investigations

Selected Press Coverage

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