An era has ended at Chicago Review Press, Inc., the parent company of Independent Publishers Group (IPG), Chicago Review Press (CRP) and Triumph Books: the company announced Monday morning that CEO Curt Matthews, who founded CRP more than 40 years ago, is retiring as of December 31. Joe Matthews, Curt’s son, who has been with the company for 10 years in various capacities and has managed all operations of the business as its COO since 2013, will officially take over as CEO in January. Curt will continue to be the chairman, in order to facilitate a smooth transition. Curt’s wife, Linda Matthews, who retired at the end of 2013 from CRP, Inc., retains a seat on its board of directors.
Curt and Linda founded Chicago Review Press in 1973 in the basement of their Chicago home while he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago; its debut publications included contemporary Japanese poetry and what may have been the first graphic novel ever published, Prairie State Blues by Bill Bergeron. Today, the company is housed in a 22,000 square-foot former bicycle factory in Chicago’s River North neighborhood with 105 employees, plus 85 warehouse personnel at the company's distribution center on the city's west side.
IPG, which CRP, Inc. acquired in 1987, distributes books for approximately 1,000 companies. Chicago Review Press published 60 fiction and nonfiction titles in 2015 under five imprints: Chicago Review Press, Lawrence Hill Books, Ball Publishers, Zephyr, and Academy Chicago. It has a backlist of about 650 titles. Triumph Books, in which CRP acquired a majority interest in 2011, published 100 sports titles this year. While not disclosing exact figures, the company reports that net sales are expected to exceed $50 million in 2015.
In a release, Matthews said that the 42 years he has spent building up the company he founded has been “a wild ride” from the beginning. “The publication of one book turned into a company that supplies 56,000 titles to readers all around the English-speaking world.”