March 7, 2013

Amazon foe Mark Suchomel leaves indie distributor IPG


As of Wednesday evening, there was still little in the way of explanation for why Mark Suchomel, president of indie distributor Independent Publishers Group (IPG), was leaving his company. Suchomel has been with IPG for 27 years, as president for the last 15, a period that saw, as PublishersLunch notes via Suchomel’s LinkedIn profile, a growth in sales “from $20M to more than $72M.”

News of Suchomel’s departure came abruptly Wednesday morning in an email from IPG CEO Curt Matthews, who told the company’s clients that “There has been an important change in IPG’s senior management. As of Monday, Mark Suchomel is no longer with the company.”

As a subsequent Publishers Weekly dispatch noted, “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.”

Suchomel also, again according to PW, “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.”

PW gets quotes from several IPG clients, who have nothing but nice things to say about Suchomel. In Shelf-Awareness, John Mutter notes that during the Amazon fiasco “Suchomel was forceful but diplomatic, acceding to Amazon’s desire that he not discuss specific terms but making the facts of the situation known and suggesting ways that IPG publishers and consumers could continue publishing and reading e-books without Amazon.”

In an interview with MobyLives about the Amazon boycott in May 2012, we asked Suchomel how stressful the dispute with Amazon had been. With typical good cheer, he told us that:

As far as being stressful, it was and it wasn’t. Yes, there were stressful moments, but when you know you’re doing what is important and right for your clients and you have their strong support, the stress is easier to handle. Was it worth it? I don’t want people to take an answer to this out of context so I have to be careful. But what I will say is that I think we did our job well. And I should add that our sales are up 26% YTD, so it obviously didn’t hurt IPG a great deal in the short term.

PW and PublishersLunch both asked IPG for further comment about Suchomel’s departure, but the company didn’t immediately return calls.


Kelly Burdick is the executive editor of Melville House.