By Rachel Lyons/Staff Writer
There are two different types of people at the beginning of the semester – those who are ready and those who aren’t.
There is one common dislike they both share – textbooks. It’s not as bad for those who have scholarships that cover their books, but it can still be expensive if the books are not scholarship eligible.
Now, McGraw-Hill and Cengage, two of the more well-known textbook publishers in the United States, may increase textbook prices with their actions.
On May 2nd, “Inside HigherEd,” an online source for news on higher education, published an article stating that McGraw-Hill and Cengage had intentions of merging under the McGraw-Hill name.
The July 30th edition of “Inside HigherEd” reported that many Student Government Associations (SGAs) had joined forces with a U.S Public Interest Group to write a letter to the U.S Department of Justice to persuade them not to allow the merger. The state of Kansas saw representation from all six state university SGAs on the letter.
The reason for this strong opposition movement is simple – history repeats itself. In the late 1800s, John D. Rockefeller and his company Standard Oil had a monopoly in America. It took the Sherman Anti-Trust Laws being passed and Standard Oil being divided by legislature to break the monopoly.
If Cengage and McGraw-Hill merge, the company will control 45% of the textbook market in America.
When given this percentage, the standard answer I’ve been given lately is something along the lines of “But Disney is a Monopoly and they have more of the market share”.
While this might be true, I believe the reason Disney has been allowed to merge so many times is because they aren’t at risk of driving prices up in the entertainment industry.
With the amount of competition between McGraw-Hill, Cengage, and Pearson, textbook prices have stayed reasonably low. Without this competition, there is no incentive for competitive pricing.
A good concluding analogy for this whole situation would be a game of Monopoly or Life. I don’t mind a good game of either, but when someone starts playing Monopoly with my life and taking over my resources, I start to care. I shouldn’t be afraid of how much my textbooks are going to cost, I should be focusing on my education.