The skyrocketing price of a U.S. College education ought to get even greater high priced if two top university textbook companies combine as planned, in particular in the event that they achieve starving off a scrappy competitor: used textbooks.
The proposed merger of textbook publishers McGraw-Hill Education Inc and Cengage Learning Holdings II Inc, introduced in May, would lessen the wide variety of important textbook publishers from 4 to a few. McGraw-Hill is owned through ApolloNSE 1.59 % Global Management LLC.
Sources close to the 2 businesses say their blended market percentage is 30% at most. That differs from figures through market research company Simba Information, which puts Cengage at 22% and McGraw-Hill at 21%, behind chief Pearson with forty% of the marketplace via sales, and ahead of Wiley at 7%.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a customer advocacy institution, is sending a letter to the Justice Department Monday to urge that the deal be blocked, as is a group of customer advocates, led by using Open Markets.
“The merger threatens to consolidate extra electricity in the draw close of a handful of publishers, who have used their big market proportion to force up prices for clients over the route of the past few decades,” said the letter signed by PIRG and a few three dozen leaders of college scholar businesses.
A spokesperson for the 2 corporations stated they were operating closely with the Justice Department. “The organizations remain assured that the transaction will advantage our customers,” the spokesperson stated.

The deal, which would create a corporation really worth about $5 billion, comes at a time when college textbook expenses are strong or declining slightly after decades of rising at two times the charge of inflation, according to U.S. Government records.
The agencies have burdened the deal’s goal was to preserve fees down. One option, they said, might be to position McGraw-Hill merchandise onto Cengage Unlimited, which fees $179 annually and gives students get right of entry to to all Cengage digital products. It has now not stated if that fee will trade.
The enterprise is shifting toward renting books to students rather than promoting them considering rented books are inexpensive.
But rented books additionally have the benefit – to the publishers – of not ending up on the used book market. When college students end a semester, the books are returned and rented again.
McGraw-Hill Chief Executive Nana Banerjee told analysts the used ebook market “has been a disruptor for us.”
Banerjee stated McGraw-Hill might transition to apartment textbooks, and over 4 to six years the wide variety of used books inflow might drop. “(This) is supporting us type of age out the books which might be now in the move,” he instructed analysts in May.
Experts said the impact on used e-book income is likely to be scrutinized by way of the Justice Department.
“This unguarded announcement is probably damaging to antitrust clearance of the transaction. The removal of a disruptor is one of the principal red flags looked for through antitrust regulators,” stated Kevin Arquit of the law company Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.
Cengage CEO Michael Hansen distanced himself from the attempt to maintain textbooks off the used book marketplace. “I assume it’s a fool’s errand to assume you can prevent the aftermarket,” he instructed Reuters in a telephone interview.
The corporations stated they expect the deal to close in early 2020.
TEXTBOOKS ARE CHANGING
McGraw-Hill and Cengage also are inquisitive about expanding digital alternatives, which might be inexpensive and can not be re-sold.
Pearson, the arena’s biggest education corporation, is leaning into virtual. It announced in July that it’ll launch all titles for the U.S. College marketplace first digitally, de-emphasizing the more steeply-priced paper textbook.
There are other low-price alternatives, along with OpenStax whose products are unfastened. Jim Tierney, an antitrust expert with the regulation firm Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, said that the unfastened alternatives have been so small that the authorities could not bear in mind them competitors.
Rather than looking on the marketplace as entire, antitrust enforcers will take a look at segments, like Spanish I, and demand asset income if the deal would leave a phase with too few competition, stated Seth Bloom of Bloom Strategic Counsel.