Mark Suchomel, who has been president of the Chicago distribution company, Independent Publishers Group, since 1998, abruptly left the company Monday. Suchomel, who has been with IPG a total of 27 years, has led IPG through a number of expansions and steady growth, such as the acquisition of Trafalgar Square Publishing, which imports books from U.K presses, and a majority interest in Triumph Books, a sports publisher renowned for their instant books after national championships.
Suchomel is perhaps best known for refusing to pay co-op last year to Amazon for e-book promotions, a move that resulted in Amazon removing the buy buttons from IPG's clients' e-books. The dispute was resolved after several weeks, but Suchomel was lauded by many for standing up to what many publishers also felt were Amazon's unreasonable demands.
Company CEO Curt Matthews sent a “special alert” email to IPG’s 831 client publishers in its six distribution programs Tuesday, informing them that, as of the previous day, Suchomel was no longer with the company.
“I want to thank Mark for his years of thoughtful service,” Matthews wrote. “He certainly had a great deal to do with the growth and success of IPG and your publishing programs over many years.” But, Matthews wrote, “The book business is changing quickly. IPG as a company must understand and embrace the real changes that are occurring in our industry, and better yet, must benefit from them and pass these benefits on to you.” Matthews added that, in addition to continuing to sell books to its accounts, “it is also now essential for the company to strengthen its capacity for digital distribution, direct to consumer marketing, and social media.”
Adam Mock, COO of Medallion Media Group, an IPG client publisher for years, told PW this morning that he was shocked that Suchomel was no longer associated with IPG. “He was so supportive of the Medallion brand,” Mock said, “He will be greatly missed.”
Mitch Rogatz, Triumph Books publisher, whose offices have been housed for the past year in the same River North building as IPG headquarters, wrote in an e-mail, “Mark is a talented, focused, principled man, who should succeed wherever he chooses to hang his hat.” Reflecting upon IPG’s future, Rogatz wrote, the company “has an incredibly-committed, experienced team” which has recently “significantly raise[d] the bar on their level of sophistication and service - which should ultimately arm its publishers with potent new tools to help them grow in important new ways.”
In response to an e-mail from PW late Tuesday evening, Suchomel wrote, “I have had a great time at IPG. I wish nothing but the best for the terrific staff and the wonderful publishers and accounts they get to work with every day. Working with so many titles and publishers, I feel I have been given a unique perspective on the industry and I am grateful for having had the opportunity. I am looking forward to what is next and only hope it is as challenging and rewarding as the experience I have had at IPG.”
Suchomel was hired in 1986 as IPG’s sales manager. After being promoted in 1988 to vp, sales & marketing, he was named company president in 1998.
Despite repeated attempts by PW, Matthews was unavailable to comment on the change or who may replace Suchomel.