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About IPG

IPG is the original independent distributor of books, ebooks, and audiobooks from publishers around the world, and a top 10 supplier of book content to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, libraries, and specialty markets, in addition to thousands of retailers globally.

With consistent growth each year, IPG’s success has come from supporting and encouraging the growth of its client publishers in the United States and worldwide. IPG has a wide reach in the market with its distribution of publishers with academic, Spanish-language, children’s, and general nonfiction and fiction titles.

The History of IPG

First a thriving small press, then 50 years of steady growth as a book distributor. Established in 1971, Independent Publishers Group was the first organization specifically created for the purpose of marketing titles from independent presses to the book trade.

Then as now, small and mid-size publishers had great difficulties selling their books effectively because they could not attract the services of good sales reps and booksellers were reluctant to absorb cost of opening new vendor accounts, with the high transaction costs and shipping charges that result from small orders.

The obvious solution to these problems was to group a number of independent publishers together for selling and order fulfillment, thereby creating a list that could compete on equal terms with those of the large houses. IPG was successful from the start and has maintained an unbroken record of growth and financial stability.

In 1987, IPG was acquired by Chicago Review Press, an independent publisher founded at about the same time as IPG. CRP, like IPG, had experienced a strong record of growth; at the time of the acquisition, CRP had almost 200 titles in print. 

Rapid changes in the book trade were beginning to threaten the viability of even well-established independent presses. The larger publishers began to buy up the middle-sized ones, the chain retailers had become a very large part of the retail market, and the advent of desktop publishing led to a torrent of new publishers and new titles that overwhelmed booksellers. The solution to these problems for Chicago Review Press was to market its titles through IPG, an organization large enough and strong enough to be successful in this new and much more competitive marketplace.

In the 1990s, it began to make sense for a number of large independent presses to make use of IPG's services. In some cases the principals of larger U.S. publishing companies (30 or more new titles a year) concluded that they were tying up too much of their time and resources dealing with the distribution side of the book trade—warehousing, bill collecting, customer service, and trade sales management—and not enough on the acquisition, editorial, design, and promotion side of publishing, which was where their real interests and abilities lay.

In other cases, these were foreign publishers looking for U.S. distribution. IPG distributes in the United States for large and small independent publishers and for publishers in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Spain, Israel, and elsewhere.

Finally, several very well-established publishers, who had for years fielded their own reps and handled their own warehousing and billing operations, decided to work with IPG. They chose to do so because it is no longer sufficient to merely sell to accounts; they now, especially the larger ones, need to be serviced—having sales representatives who handle reordering, problem solving, the setting of inventory models, and the customer's response to breaking publicity developments. It also means having the complete support from each department at IPG.

Presenting new titles to buyers is now only a part of the service that larger bookselling organizations require of their vendors. Even large independent presses have had difficulty providing the level of service demanded by the national chains and wholesalers. In addition, these larger customers also require publishers to deal with them electronically. The capacity, through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), to electronically process purchase orders, invoices, purchase-order acknowledgments, and advance shipping notices is now obligatory, and it is technically complex and expensive to supply.

Sending regular title data feeds is a service that major distributors must provide in addition to the traditional selling and fulfillment functions. It is now the third leg of the distribution stool. Moreover, these larger customers and Internet booksellers now need accurate, frequent, and complete title information data-feeds in order to support the very sophisticated supply chain management systems they now have in place.

IPG has sold e-books since 2001 and will continue to be a leader in this field, just as it has been an early adaptor to all of the electronic challenges faced by the publishing business in the past. IPG works hard to bring these titles to the forefront and to be more visible to the ultimate consumer, be it an individual or library. Accounts have choices as to how books are featured or what books are offered through certain programs. Presenting e-books and print editions together when possible helps to highlight content over format, makes the most of promotional opportunities, and best maximizes marketing efforts and expenditures.

Joe Matthews

Chief Executive Officer

Joe Matthews started at IPG in 2006 as the educational sales rep, then moved to IT where he spent five years modernizing all of IPG’s internal systems. From there, he served as COO for two years to leverage the technology push. In January 2016, Joe moved into the CEO role where he spends equal time building traditional relationships, streamlining operations, and continuing to propel IPG’s strategic initiatives.


IPG