Case Initial Text 1

Were you forced to purchase digital access codes for course materials and textbooks at your university? Textbook publishers’ “inclusive access” offerings may have caused you to pay more. Fill out the form to find out your rights to potential compensation »

Case Status
Case Caption
In Re Inclusive Access Course Materials Antitrust Litigation
Co-Lead Counsel
U.S. District Court Southern District Of New York
Case Number
20 MDL No. 2946
Barnes & Noble Education Inc.
Barnes & Noble College Booksellers LLC
Follett Higher Education Group
Cengage Learning Inc.
McGraw Hill LLC
File Date

Publishers and booksellers who collectively control the market for student textbooks have engaged in anticompetitive conduct that has caused students to pay excessive prices for university course materials, and a class-action lawsuit is seeking compensation for college and university students nationwide.


“Inclusive access” pricing schemes involve a digital access code for your textbooks, and publishing companies may have used any of the following terms in describing your purchased textbooks and other course materials:

  • “Inclusive access”
  • “Day one access”
  • “Innovative pricing and payment options”
  • “Digital discount” program


For decades, publishers of educational textbooks have exploited college and graduate school students as captive buyers who must purchase their products, charging exorbitant prices for textbooks that faculty members assign but that students must pay for.

In the early to mid-2000s, a robust, online secondary marketplace for textbooks arose, enabling students to buy, sell and rent used copies of textbooks at dramatically discounted prices on e-commerce websites like Chegg, eBay, Amazon, and at independent bookstores. In just a few years, the secondary marketplace became the textbook publishers’ biggest competitor and ate into their profits. It also ate into the profits of on-campus bookstores because students could shop around easily and buy from multiple sources.

In 2015 and early 2016, textbook publishers and the major companies running on-campus bookstores collectively devised and agreed upon a scheme known as “inclusive access.” As they put it, this would allow them to “rid” themselves of the “used book market.”

Inclusive access requires that:

  • students be automatically subscribed to and billed for required course materials during class registration, with limited or virtually no ability to opt-out;
  • course materials be available only in digital format and only for the length of the of the course, meaning students have no ability to use a hard copy or keep the materials; and
  • students purchase course materials only from the official on-campus bookstore (or, in some instances, directly from the publishers), meaning students cannot shop around for lower prices or alternative versions of the course materials (e.g. a used hard copy of the textbook).

Although the publishers and on-campus bookstore chains promote inclusive access materials as a way to reduce costs and improve learning efficiency, this is far from the truth. Despite these representations, inclusive access materials are much more expensive than the price of textbooks that students could obtain otherwise, such as on the secondary, used textbook market.


This lawsuit seeks reimbursement for the illegal price inflation pushed onto student consumers. Hagens Berman believes that students who paid higher prices for course materials because of the defendants’ anticompetitive inclusive access programs deserve compensation.


Hagens Berman is one of the most successful consumer litigation law firms in the U.S. and has achieved more than $260 billion in settlements for consumers in lawsuits against food corporations, automakers, big banks and others. Hagens Berman has achieved many record-breaking victories in antitrust matters, and your claim will be handled by attorneys experienced in antitrust and consumer law.


There is no cost or fee whatsoever involved in joining this case. In the event Hagens Berman or any other firm obtains a settlement that provides benefits to class members, the court will decide a reasonable fee to be awarded to the class’s legal team. In no case will any class member ever be asked to pay any out-of-pocket sum.

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