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. 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 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
- Open Markets, U.S. PIRG, et. al (July 29, 2019)
- Student Governments (July 29, 2019)
- SPARC (August 14, 2019)
- Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) (September 3, 2019)
- Education group urges U.S. Justice Department to block textbook merger, Reuters, August 14, 2019
- Education group urges U.S. Justice Department to block textbook merger, Yahoo Finance (Reuters), August 14, 2019
- Education Group Urges DOJ to Block Cengage-McGraw Deal, Law360, August 14, 2019
- Textbook Authors Say Their Publisher Is Shorting Them on Royalties. They Blame It’s Digital Subscription Service, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 14, 2019
- Advocacy Group to DOJ: Cengage-McGraw Hill Merger Could Create a “Platform Monopoly” in Education, EdSurge, August 15, 2019
- Boston textbook publisher’s merger faces antitrust criticism, Boston Globe, August 16, 2019
- Senators Question Educational Publisher’s Data Collection Practices, Publisher’s Weekly, August 20, 2019
- Advocates Warn About a Potential “Facebook of Higher Education” With McGraw-Hill Cengage Merger, eLearningInside, August 21, 2019