Paying college tuition has long been a struggle for many aspiring students and their families, but when it comes to paying for college, tuition is just the beginning. The cost of textbooks and other school supplies is another financial hurdle, and according to an antitrust lawsuit, some of the biggest on-campus bookstore chains and publishers of college textbooks have deliberately created and taken advantage of the Inclusive Access program to monopolize the market on college textbooks and raise prices.
The Inclusive Access program requires students to buy one-time access codes to access textbooks and course materials online. Because the access codes only work once, students are required to buy into the program each semester, meaning they can’t reuse textbooks or any other online materials they (or other students) already used in another class. Because all the materials are available online, the program is less expensive than buying new, hard-copy textbooks, but more expensive than buying used, hard-copy textbooks.
The lawsuit was filed by college students, independent bookstores, and online textbooks retailers against Barnes and Noble Education, Follett Higher Education Group, Cengage Learning, McGraw Hill, and Pearson Education. According to the lawsuit, the textbook publishers and major retailers are collectively making $3 billion annually from their sales through the Inclusive Access program. At the same time, the lawsuit alleges, the same program raised prices for hundreds of thousands of students, requiring them to pay for the online access code to get all their class materials, instead of getting some of their textbooks used, which would allegedly have saved them money. Continue reading ›