IPG's substantial publishing operations have grown over the years both organically and through acquisitions, and represent about a third of IPG's revenues. The publishing operations help keep the company on top of "cutting-edge publishing" and keep it aware of new trends in the business, Joe Matthews emphasizes. The large publishing operations help provide IPG with "critical mass and door kickers that open the door for reps to meet with accounts."
From its origins in 1973, Chicago Review Press has grown dramatically from the house that initially focused on "poetry and passion projects," developing a focus on solid regional titles, helping solve problems people have and serving niche audiences in the U.S. that were underserved by traditional, larger publishers. As Curt Matthews has said, "It's not about finding a big audience somewhat interested in something. It's about finding a smaller audience passionately interested in something."
In 1975, the press published The Home Invaders: Confessions of a Cat Burglar by Frank Hohimer, a convicted burglar who explained how he stole jewelry. The book became the basis of the 1981 hit movie Thief, starring James Caan, Tuesday Weld, James Belushi and Willie Nelson. "It was a huge success," Joe Matthews says, and gave the press important critical attention that helped it grow.
In 1980, the press began publishing a nursing exam guide that was "a huge success," Matthews says, selling during its 10-year run "tens of thousands of copies."
Another key title for Chicago Review Press was The Covenant with Black America, with a foreword by Tavis Smiley, published in 2006. "It put Chicago Review Press on the national map," Matthews says.
Over the years, Chicago Review Press has made a range of acquisitions, most recently of Fulcrum Publishing, Council Oak Books and Ripple Grove Press. Chicago Review Press imprints include Lawrence Hill Books (more on this below), Amberjack, Academy Chicago Publishers, and Parenting Press.
In 2011, IPG bought Triumph Books from Random House. Triumph, which specializes in sports titles, is well known for its celebration books following each year's major sports championships like the Super Bowl and World Series. The press prepares books for each of the final two teams, including all but a final chapter about the big game. After the game, it cancels the losing team's title, adds a final triumphant chapter to the winning team's book, gets the final copy to a previously chosen local printer by 6 a.m., gives the printer 48 hours to print many thousands of copies, and then saturates the city and region of the championship team while interest and excitement is highest. "They break all the rules of publishing," Matthews says enthusiastically. "They taught us how to be an instant publisher."
Also as the leading sports publisher, Triumph has increased IPG's profile and "cemented our position as a top 10 book supplier," Matthews says.
He's also excited about Triumph's partnership with Authentic Brands Group, owner of the Sports Illustrated brand, under which Triumph will be the frontlist publisher for Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated Kids trade books and will publish them with the SI and SI Kids logos. Triumph will have access to Sports Illustrated's vast archive of photos and stories and the books will include coffee-table titles, interactive children's books, anthologies of SI stories, team histories, commemorative books and titles focused on current events and trends
Lawrence Hill Books, founded in 1973 and bought by Chicago Review Press in 1993, centers, focuses on, and uplifts Black voices, interests, and issues within nonfiction. Recently hired acquisitions editor Alicia Sparrow will be leading this imprint forward, seeking biographies, cultural criticisms, current affairs and politics, civil and human rights issues, histories, and graphic novels. Among its recent titles is The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther by Jeffrey Haas, which drew renewed attention after the release of the movie Judas and the Black Messiah, which won two Oscars this year.
Among other important Lawrence Hill titles are Assata Shakur's autobiography; Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom by Dr. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter; and Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson.