The skyrocketing value of a U.S. College education ought to get even extra pricey if two top university textbook corporations combine as deliberate, especially in the event that they achieve ravenous 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, might reduce the range of main textbook publishers from four to 3. McGraw-Hill is owned by using ApolloNSE 1.83 % Global Management LLC.
Sources near the 2 corporations say their combined marketplace share is 30% at maximum. That differs from figures by marketplace research company Simba Information, which places Cengage at 22% and McGraw-Hill at 21%, at the back of leader Pearson with forty% of the marketplace with the aid of revenue, and ahead of Wiley at 7%.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a customer advocacy organization, is sending a letter to the Justice Department Monday to urge that the deal be blocked, as is a set of purchaser advocates, led with the aid of Open Markets.
“The merger threatens to consolidate greater energy in the grasp of a handful of publishers, who’ve used their extensive marketplace share to power up costs for consumers over the course of the past few a long time,” said the letter signed by means of PIRG and some 3 dozen leaders of college student groups.
A spokesperson for the 2 corporations said they have been Operating intently with the Justice Department. “The businesses stay assured that the transaction will gain our customers,” the spokesperson said.
The deal, which could create a business enterprise really worth approximately $five billion, comes at a time while university textbook prices are strong or declining barely after a long time of rising at twice the price of inflation, in step with U.S. Government records.
The companies have stressed the deal’s aim changed into to maintain fees down. One choice, they said, might be to place McGraw-Hill products onto Cengage Unlimited, which costs $179 yearly and offers students get right of entry to to all Cengage virtual products. It has now not said if that rate will exchange.
The industry is moving toward renting books to students in preference to selling them when you consider that rented books are cheaper.
But rented books additionally have the advantage – to the publishers – of now not ending up on the used ebook marketplace. When college students end a semester, the books are returned and rented once more.
McGraw-Hill Chief Executive Nana Banerjee advised analysts the used e-book market “has been a disruptor for us.”
Banerjee said McGraw-Hill might transition to rent textbooks, and over 4 to six years the number of used books in move might drop. “(This) is helping us a form of age out the books that are now in motion,” he instructed analysts in May.
Experts stated the effect on used book income is probable to be scrutinized by way of the Justice Department.
“This unguarded declaration is doubtlessly unfavorable to antitrust clearance of the transaction. The removal of a disruptor is one of the foremost red flags looked for via antitrust regulators,” stated Kevin Arquit of the regulation company Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP.
Cengage CEO Michael Hansen distanced himself from the attempt to preserve textbooks off the used e-book marketplace. “I suppose it is an idiot’s errand to think you may forestall the aftermarket,” he instructed Reuters in a smartphone interview.
The organizations stated they expect the deal to shut in early 2020.
TEXTBOOKS ARE CHANGING
McGraw-Hill and Cengage are also interested in expanding digital alternatives, which are cheaper and can’t be re-bought.
Pearson, the world’s biggest education company, is leaning into virtual. It announced in July that it’s going to release all titles for the U.S. College marketplace first digitally, de-emphasizing the extra pricey paper textbook.
There are different low-rate alternatives, consisting of OpenStax whose products are loose. Jim Tierney, an antitrust expert with the law company Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, said that the loose options had been so small that the government would not take into account the competition.
Rather than looking at the marketplace as an entire, antitrust enforcers will observe segments, like Spanish I, and call for asset sales if the deal would go away a phase with too few competitors, stated Seth Bloom of Bloom Strategic Counsel.