Publishers Eradicate Secondary Market; Students Required to Pay Inflated Prices for Course Materials

SAN DIEGO (May 28, 2020): San Diego-based law firm Hartley LLP filed a complaint earlier this month against major higher education textbook publishers Cengage Learning, Inc., McGraw Hill LLC, Pearson Education, and Educational Publishers Enforcement Group (collectively, the “Publishers”) for fixing the prices of higher education course materials and suppressing the secondary market for students seeking to resell their course materials.

Hartley LLP represents a putative class of all students who purchased higher education course materials via the publishers’ “Inclusive Access” agreements. Inclusive Access agreements provide access codes for students to use on the Publishers’ proprietary platform where they access their textbooks and other course materials. While students are able to opt out of the Inclusive Access agreements, the opt out process is misleading and confusing, essentially locking students into using it. This structure effectively denies students the ability to purchase used course materials or seek competitive market prices, and moreover, prohibits students from reselling their course materials once a course has concluded.

“The process by which the Publishers require students to purchase their mandatory course materials enabled the publishers to eliminate competition from the secondary market,” said attorney Jason Hartley, Hartley LLP Founder. “This had the intended effect of forcing students to purchase incredibly expensive materials they couldn’t resell at the course conclusion.”

It is estimated that the publishers named control 80-90 percent of the market for higher education course materials in the United States, and the overall higher education book publishing industry is valued at nearly $4 billion dollars. Because students do not have the opportunity to seek competitive pricing for their materials, the higher education course material market had long been a classic example of a “captive market” since students are required to purchase the materials they have been assigned regardless of the cost. For more information or for a copy of the complaint, please contact Karen Korr at

About Hartley LLP

Hartley LLP represents victims of anticompetitive conduct like price fixing agreements, unfair competition, tying agreements and monopolization. Its attorneys have worked to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for their clients. For more information about the firm, visit