Phoenix Books is featured in the Spring 2017 issue of Vermont Life! Check out the story on p. 50, or find it here, in the digital edition of Vermont Life.
Phoenix Books is featured in the Spring 2017 issue of Vermont Life! Check out the story on p. 50, or find it here, in the digital edition of Vermont Life.
During the event Dr. Alis Headlam, who managed the book project, was on hand to sign copies, as were some of the student authors and designers. Rutland City mayor Christopher Louras attended the event and purchased copies of the book to give to the Syrian refugee families who have recently resettled in Rutland. Phoenix Books Rutland assistant manager Will Notte volunteered his time to edit the book and was presented with a copy at the ceremony.
Phoenix Bookseller Will Notte and
We Are One Rutland coauthor Jeremy Gillespie.
Phoenix Books Misty Valley’s annual New Voices event took place on Saturday, January 28 at the First Universalist Church in Chester’s Stone Village. New Voices 2017 presented five promising debut authors to talk about their work.
From left to right: Adelia Saunders, Rebecca Dinerstein, Tom McAllister, Dan Cluchey, and Kaitlyn Greenidge.
Photo courtesy of Malcolm Moore.
As in the past, the authors were introduced to the audience by local community members. Here’s what the critics have said of New Voices 2017 books:
Kaitlyn Greenidge, We Love You, Charlie Freeman (introduced by Dr. Anne d’Avenas):
“This visceral feat of storytelling heralds Kaitlyn Greenidge as an extraordinary new voice in American literature.”
- Tea Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife
Dan Cluchey, The Life of the World to Come (introduced by Bill Dakin):
“At once obsessively readable, philosophically probing, and verbally acrobatic, The Life of the World to Come announces Dan Cluchey as a fresh new voice in literature.”
Adelia Saunders, Indelible (introduced by Diana Lawrence):
"A great novel of serendipities, coincidences, and connections, both missed and made. At times dark, even disturbing, and at other times tender and sweet, it’s a beautiful and engrossing story of intertwined lives."
- Anton Bogomazov
Rebecca Dinerstein, The Sunlit Night (introduced by Bill Reed):
“Lyrical as a poem, psychologically rich as a thriller, funny, dark, warm, and as knowing of place as any travel book or memoir, Sunlit Night marks the appearance of a brave talent.
- Jonathan Safran Foer
Tom McAllister, The Young Widower’s Handbook (introduced by Ed Wilkins):
“Funny, sad, and smart … Part wacky road novel, part romantic comedy, McAlister’s debut flies along yet reaches deep.”
- Stewart O’Nan, author of West of Sunset - and Misty Valley Books New Voice 1995.
Above left: Skiing at Grafton Pond.
Above right: Phoenix's general manager Colleen Shipman and co-owner Mike DeSanto.
Photos courtesy of Malcolm Moore.
In addition to the readings at the Stone Church, the public was invited to cross-country ski or snowshoe with the authors at Grafton Ponds on Saturday morning, meet the authors at a reception at the church after the readings and then have drinks and/or dinner with the authors at the Fullerton Inn, on the Green next door to Phoenix Books Misty Valley.
"Over the past two years I have done scores of readings and appearances,” writes former New Voice Bruce Bauman (And the Word Was), “The Misty Valley Books New Voices weekend was as rewarding and as well organized as the LA Times Festival of Books or the Miami Book Fair. Those are major productions, with a cast of thousands, and are very much needed and appreciated by all authors and book lovers. But New Voices is exactly what the world of literary fiction and nonfiction is about; and we need more like it.”
New Voices is a program which has attracted national attention, and a number of New Voices – including Dennis Lehane, Colum McCann, Arthur Golden, Gregory Maguire, Jennifer Egan, Alex Berenson, Heidi Durrow and Dr. Eben Alexander – have gone on to considerable fame. Over the years, New Voices has attracted thousands of loyal readers to hear well over 100 new authors read and discuss their work.
Right: Kaitlyn Greenidge reading at the First Universalist Church in Chester's Stone Village. Photo courtesy of Malcolm Moore.
IN THE NEWS:
The owners of Phoenix Books, a Vermont-owned bookstore with locations in Essex, Burlington, Rutland and Chester, have purchased Woodstock's Yankee Bookshop. Michael DeSanto and Renee Reiner met with Susan Morgan - who bought the shop in 2001 - for the closing on February 1st. Yankee Bookshop first opened in November of 1935, making it Vermont's oldest continuously operated independent bookshop.
"After 15 years of 24/7 ownership doing everything, including cleaning the toilet, I realized the bookshop needs fresh eyes and fresh passion to continue to be one of Woodstock's keystone businesses," says Morgan. "I’m tuckered out! Yankee Bookshop deserves owners who are media savvy. I want to see the Yankee Bookshop hit its 100 year mark and still be going strong. I know it can't happen with me as its owner, but when it happens I hope I'm here to see it!"
While DeSanto says that a few alterations may be made as the new owners bring their own taste, style and interest to the selection of offerings and to the floor plan, they won't be making any drastic changes to the venerable bookshop. "We've signed a lease for the next 3-6 years," says DeSanto, "so we are not moving. We're keeping the name, Yankee Bookshop. Susan Morgan has passed on a thriving and successful bookstore; our job is to keep that going!" To aid in the transition in ownership, Morgan will stay on in the store for a few months and will be available for consultation after that.
For day to day operations and on-site owner-management, DeSanto and Reiner have teamed up with their assistant manager, Kari Meutsch, and her fiance, Kristian Preylowski. Meutsch has worked for Phoenix Books for five years and has always wanted to own her own bookstore. "From the beginning, Mike and I were impressed by Kari's ability to make customers feel welcome, her determination to make sure she always did the best job possible, her intelligence and creativity in facing the challenges of a retail business, and her genuine love for books and bookselling," said Renee Reiner. Mike DeSanto adds, "Renee and I - and the team at Phoenix Books - are excited to support our local owner-managers by providing both the stability of being associated with an established group of businesses and access our management group. As excited as we are that Kari and Kristian will be in Woodstock as our business partners, we will all miss her pretty desperately in Burlington and Essex.”
DeSanto and Reiner were the owners of The Book Rack and Children's pages, first located in Winooski, Vermont, and then Essex from 1995 to 2003, when they sold that business. The appeal of bookselling was too strong to resist, and the couple founded Phoenix Books in Essex, Vermont in 2007 and, in 2012, opened a second location in Burlington using a Community Supported Enterprise model. Following a recruitment effort by the greater Rutland community, including Green Mountain Power, the City of Rutland and the Downtown Rutland Partnership, and the addition of local partners Tricia and Tom Huebner to provide local leadership, DeSanto and Reiner opened Phoenix Books Rutland in September of 2015. In May of 2016, DeSanto and Reiner acquired Misty Valley Books, now Phoenix Books Misty Valley, in Chester Vermont. "We believe that local, bricks-and-mortar bookshops offer something very important to a community - a physical place to go to discover and exchange ideas, to have conversations with neighbors, and to gather as community members," says DeSanto. "It is part of our mission at Phoenix Books to ensure that local bookshops continue to be a vital part of Vermont's communities - and to engage with and serve the communities where we do business."
Kristian Preylowski and Kari Meutsch met seven years ago while working in a bookstore, and between the two of them have close to twenty years of experience in bookselling. "We’ve both spent our lives working in the service industry, and understand what it means to serve our community,"says Meutsch. "Woodstock has a beauty and vibe that we find inspiring. We are excited to continue the work of an existing business that has so much history within the community and the state; both of us have a deep respect for independent businesses that have survived and thrived over time, and we cannot wait to do our part to keep the tradition of the Yankee Bookshop alive for years to come."
(Photo by Gareth Henderson - The Vermont Standard. From left to right, Kristian Preylowski, Kari Meutsch, Susan Morgan, Mike DeSanto, Renee, Reiner.)
In the news:
VTDigger: Phoenix Books Acquires Fifth Location in Vermont
Shelf Awareness: Vermont's Phoenix Books Buys Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock
Vermont Business Magazine: Phoenix Books buys Yankee Bookshop
Chester Telegraph: Phoenix Books, owner of Chester shop, buys Woodstock store
Bookselling This Week: Vermont's Yankee Bookshop Joins Phoenix Books Family
Mountain Times: Phoenix Books buys Vermont's oldest bookstore
Valley News: Turning the Page
Phoenix Books is taking a stand against hunger this holiday season by matching customer donations - up to $5,000 - to the Vermont Foodbank between Thanksgiving and December 24th. The company - which has locations in Essex, Burlington, Rutland and Chester - has embarked on a year-long partnership with the Vermont Foodbank to raise at least $25,000 through a series of fundraisers. This matching program for December is the first of multiple events planned in partnership with Phoenix Books and Vermont Foodbank. The match is dollar for dollar so the more the community donates through Phoenix Books the more money raised for the Vermont Foodbank.
"Food is personal for me," says Phoenix Books co-owner Mike DeSanto. As a small boy my family watched what we ate, and it wasn't about calories and fats but whether there was enough to go around. Counting out portions has always remained with me. A couple of years ago, I saw something that spoke about how hard it is for a child who is 'food insecure' to learn. And I recalled in that moment feeling hungry as a child." After meeting with Nicole Whalen and Cassie Lindsay of the Vermont Foodbank, DeSanto says, "I realized that I could commit my business and the stores in four communities to doing something significant to help with feeding our neighbors in Vermont."
“We are thrilled to partner with Phoenix Books and their customers this holiday season,” said John Sayles, Vermont Foodbank CEO. “Too many kids and families in our communities are struggling with hunger—we owe them better. We want everyone in our communities to reach their full potential, and that starts with a healthy meal.”
Two thousand pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution recently arrived at Phoenix Books—but these books aren't for sale: Instead, Phoenix is giving copies of the Constitution away free to community members.
"Phoenix Books is in the business of disseminating ideas to our customers," says co-owner Mike DeSanto. "There are no greater ideas than those contained within the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence. People bandy these ideas back and forth, often without having read those documents. We think it's important to cast a ballot based on which candidates are most likely to bring the ideas embodied within those documents to their new administration. So, we're providing an opportunity to consider and make thoughtful choices in this election."
The edition being distributed is The U.S. Constitution & Fascinating Facts About It, annotated by Terry L. Jordan and published by Oak Hill Publishing. The text includes the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, as well as supplemental information on the men who wrote the Constitution, how it was created, and how the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution since its creation.
All four Phoenix Books locations are offering one copy of the Constitution per customer while supplies last. Each customer must be present to take a book, and quantities are limited. These copies are free, and no purchase is necessary.
There is a brand new van parked in front of Phoenix Books Essex, and it is all decked out in colorful decals identifying it as the property of Phoenix Books. Why, one wonders, after opening a brand new store in Rutland in September of 2015 and acquiring Phoenix Books Misty Valley in Chester in May of 2016, did owner Mike DeSanto decide to buy a Ford Transit Connect in August?
"Because there is an untapped market for increased sales to off-site customers and we need a vehicle to get the books to those customers - and those customers need to know who is bringing them their books!" says DeSanto.
The staff at Phoenix Books feels there is potential to compete in school book fairs, business to business relationships, off-site author events, supporting authors at their speaking engagements and creating mobile bookstores for large community events. The van will allow Phoenix to do this in the market areas served by all four locations - Chittenden County and the areas surrounding Rutland and Chester - and the store is exploring the possibility of a delivery service, too.
Two years ago, Phoenix Books brought 80 cartons of books for sale at the Vermont Flower Show held at the Champlain Fairgrounds in Essex Junction, Vermont. The business also brought portable point-of-sales equipment, displays, portable bookcases and numerous booksellers to assist with the endeavor of three days. Booksellers had to cobble together a rag tag fleet of vehicles to move all that to the site and back again afterwards. Instead of private vehicles or renting a van, Phoenix now has a company-owned vehicle to handle all the transport issues.
Most weeks, the event is hosted by Phoenix bookseller Johanna Simmons. "I find the Whole Book Approach to be an incredibly effective story time model," says Simmons. "I love the way it encourages us to think outside the box, invites us to search for details in a book, and empowers us to approach each reading with curiosity and confidence."
Simmons studied the Whole Book Approach with its creator, Megan Dowd Lambert, as part of her graduate education at Simmons College. The course focused on book design and its role in the overall narrative; paying close attention to trim size, orientation, cover art, endpapers, typography, and other components of the codex. Lambert - who is also the author of a book on the method, Reading Picture Books With Children - demonstrated her story time technique with young visitors at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and her students were able to observe firsthand how well children - of all ages and learning abilities - responded.
Phoenix Books Burlington's Saturday Storytime, held Saturdays at 11am, has been running since 2012. This year, the bookstore has begun partnering with local co-operative grocery store City Market on some of the weekly storytimes. For example, after reading Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, children made caterpillar-shaped snacks from grapes and other fresh foods. Phoenix's next event with City Market, a Halloween-themed storytime, will feature witches' brooms made from pretzels, cheese, and chives, and will take place on October 29th. Keep an eye out for more events with City Market in the future!
Bookselling this Week recently reported on Phoenix's support for Syrian refugees in Vermont.
The article begins:
"Will Notte is using his role as senior bookseller at Phoenix Books in Rutland, Vermont, to educate residents about Syria and its people, following the mayor’s controversial proposal to let up to 100 Syrian refugees settle in the city.
"Notte, who also serves as the president of Rutland’s Board of Aldermen and is strongly supportive of Mayor Chris Louras’ proposal, has set up a book display at the front of the store to provide residents with information about Syria and the plight of its citizens fleeing the Islamic State."
"'People have been very excited about the books, and we’ve sold a good amount,” said Notte, who started at Phoenix Rutland when it opened last fall and also works as a freelance editor. “Some people come in specifically because they are looking for information about Syria, while other people come in looking for something else and see the display and are drawn to it.'
"Books on display include Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami (The University of Chicago Press); Soup for Syria by Barbara Abdeni Massaad (Interlink); I’m New Here, a children’s book about the experience of young refugees, by Anne Sibley O’Brien (Charlesbridge); and The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches From Syria by Janine di Giovanni (Liveright), which has been the display’s best-selling book to date, according to Notte."