Textbook Publishers, Retailers Inclusive Access Antitrust Class Action

The complaint for this class action brings suit against textbook publishers and campus book retailers, alleging that their Inclusive Access program amounts to a conspiracy to limit competition and keep textbook prices high. The three publisher defendants include Cengage Learning, Inc., McGraw Hill, LLC, and Pearson Education, Inc. The three retailer defendants are Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC, Barnes & Noble Education, Inc., and Follett Higher Education Group, Inc.

The class for this action is all students at colleges or graduate schools in the US who were required to buy textbooks or course materials through Inclusive Access.

College and graduate school textbooks can be very expensive. In earlier times, to save money, students had the option of buying used copies or obtaining a copy from a less expensive seller, either at a different bookstore or online. In recent years, however, textbook publishers and campus bookstores have banded together to form the Inclusive Access program, which requires that students get their textbook from their campus retailer only, and only in an online format.

The complaint says, “Defendants’ monopolizing the market for the sale of course materials in Inclusive Access courses has allowed them to charge higher prices for those course materials with no legitimate justification, to the detriment of college and graduate students.” The point, it says, is to increase the profits of the publishers and booksellers at the expense of the students.

Can the students opt-out of the program? Theoretically, yes, the complaint says, but the Inclusive Access materials include reading assignments, homework problems, and quizzes. Students who opt out are not able to access those materials. “Many colleges require a student who opts out to show proof of purchasing the materials from another source (and as mentioned above, they are generally not available from other sources.)”

In fact, the complaint alleges that at many schools, students are signed up for the Inclusive Access program automatically, with the charges appearing on their tuition bill.

The program has very little in the way of advantages for the students, the complaint claims: “Students pay higher prices, are forced to purchase electronic materials even if they prefer print, and they receive access to online materials with an expiration date as opposed to being able to save course materials for future reference or sell them for money after the class is over. Instructors have to waste class time explaining how to use the online materials, and technical problems or broken Internet connections can result in students losing access to the materials.”

This case has become part of a multi-district litigation, In re: Inclusive Access Course Materials Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2946.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Antitrust

Most Recent Case Event

Textbook Publishers, Retailers Inclusive Access Antitrust Complaint

April 22, 2020

The complaint for this class action brings suit against textbook publishers and campus book retailers, alleging that their Inclusive Access program amounts to a conspiracy to limit competition and keep textbook prices high. The three publisher defendants include Cengage Learning, Inc., McGraw Hill, LLC, and Pearson Education, Inc. The three retailer defendants are Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC, Barnes & Noble Education, Inc., and Follett Higher Education Group, Inc.

Textbook Publishers, Retailers Inclusive Access Antitrust Complaint

Case Event History

Textbook Publishers, Retailers Inclusive Access Antitrust Complaint

April 22, 2020

The complaint for this class action brings suit against textbook publishers and campus book retailers, alleging that their Inclusive Access program amounts to a conspiracy to limit competition and keep textbook prices high. The three publisher defendants include Cengage Learning, Inc., McGraw Hill, LLC, and Pearson Education, Inc. The three retailer defendants are Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC, Barnes & Noble Education, Inc., and Follett Higher Education Group, Inc.

Textbook Publishers, Retailers Inclusive Access Antitrust Complaint
Tags: Antitrust, Education, Textbooks