Chicago Review Press is an independent book publisher founded in 1973 by Curt and Linda Matthews. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago and poetry editor for Chicago Review magazine, Curt had come across some wonderful works that were too long for the journal to publish, so he decided to publish them himself out of his own basement. Curt and his wife Linda, both English instructors at Northwestern University at the time, asked and received permission from the University of Chicago to call their fledging publishing company Chicago Review Press. The name was both recognizable—it had cachet—and it located the press in Chicago, which seemed useful as many of the company's early publications were Chicago-centric, including the guidebooks Sweet Home Chicago and Antique Collecting in the Midwest, and a very early and very beautiful graphic novel by Bill Bergeron called Prairie State Blues.
After publishing a few literary novels and several excellently reviewed collections of Japanese poetry in translation (Spring & Asura, Poems of a Penisist) that had the disadvantage of not selling well, the press published The Home Invaders: Confessions of a Cat Burglar, by Frank Hohimer, who was doing time at Joliet Correctional Center and writing about his adventures on the side. Michael Mann Productions bought an option on the film rights in 1975 and renewed it for six years before finally bringing out the film Thief in 1981. Based on Hohimer's book, it starred James Caan and Tuesday Weld. Income from that film propelled the company forward; four decades and many successes later, Chicago Review Press now publishes about 60 titles each year and is a sister company to Independent Publishers Group (IPG), one of the largest book distributors in the country.
Chicago Review Press soon outgrew its basement office and then moved its shipping operations to a coffin factory on West Ohio Street and rented space in two different River North manufacturing buildings before moving, in 1982, to its current home, a turn-of-the-century building in River North that previously housed the Nash Bicycle Company.
As a publisher, Chicago Review Press has always focused on publishing titles of lasting interest that backlist well. Many of its bestselling books have been in print for more than 20 years, including Outwitting Squirrels, The Mole People, Volunteer Vacations, and Outdoor Survival Skills. The press believes strongly in developing new voices and taking chances on quirky and sometimes controversial subjects. Now a dynamic midsize publisher with more than 900 unique titles available in multiple print and e-book formats, Chicago Review Press currently publishes on a wide range of subjects including history, popular science, biography, memoir, music, film, and travel, among others, as well as an award-winning line of children's activity books and young adult biographies. The company is proud to remain independently owned and minded.
In 1987, Chicago Review Press purchased a distribution company called Independent Publishers Group (IPG). Established in 1971, IPG was the first organization specifically created to market independent-press titles. With consistent growth each year, IPG supports and encourages the success of its client publishers throughout the United States and worldwide. IPG now represents more than 600 publishers worldwide and is one of the largest book distributors in North America. All Chicago Review Press titles are distributed internationally by IPG.