Phoenix News

  • We're very excited about our improved Phoenix Book Club! 
    Existing club members have been automatically upgraded.
    Haven't joined yet?  It's easy!  Ask us how next time you stop by.

    Join the Phoenix Book Club for only $25 a year, and save 20% off every book, every day!  PLUS, you'll get 10% off cards and stationery, gifts, calendars, cafe items, and more!
    Discounts available for book groups, busines-to-business, and educational customers.  Contact us for details!
    Posted 03/30/2014
  • There’s an excellent article in the combined Feb. 17 and 24 issues of THE NEW YORKER magazine, by George Packer, called “Cheap Words: Is Amazon’s Business Model Good for Books?”

    After reading Packer’s article with increasing outrage and anger, I can answer that question in one word: No.  By under-pricing both print and electronic books in order to drive “traffic” through their website, and otherwise monopolizing the bookselling business, Amazon is making it exceedingly difficult for serious publishers, writers, and booksellers, and therefore serious readers, to survive.  (Of course, Amazon doesn’t usually refer to readers who shop at their online site as “readers.”  In the Amazonian argot, readers are referred to – I kid you not – as consumers.”)

    That’s why it’s so important for readers, writers, and booksellers everywhere to support brave, new publishing ventures like Green Writers Press, in Brattleboro, Vermont, which is committed to publishing serious fiction, non-fiction, and poetry with place-based or environmental themes.  Using recycled paper and other environmentally friendly materials, Green Writers is publishing beautifully-made books by some of Vermont’s and America’s best writers.  Please look for the just-published poetry anthology SO LITTLE TIME and, next month, acclaimed Vermont poet Leland Kinsey’s seventh collection, WINTER READY, as examples of what GWP is doing to keep both good literature and what’s left of the natural world around us alive and well, in Vermont and far beyond.Howardbandw

    And by the way.  If you have the slightest doubt concerning Amazon’s ethical bankruptcy, but don’t have time just now to read the entire George Packer article, please scan what he as to say about the working conditions at Amazon’s “fulfillment centers” (aka warehouses), on pp. 73-74 of the magazine.  Where is Charles Dickens when we need him?

    Reposted with permission from Howard Frank Mosher, this was originally posted on Howard's blog and on Green Writers Press' website.

    Posted 03/03/2014
  • Essex, Vermont – February 20, 2014:  On Wednesday, February 19th, Phoenix Books received something unusual in the mail: A letter from bestselling author James Patterson, along with a $5000 check.

    Back in September of 2013, Patterson appeared on CBS This Morning to announce his pledge to give $1 million to independent bookstores.  The author invited bookstores with children's departments to send in informal submissions detailing how they would use the grant money.  All sorts of ideas were welcomed, ranging from funding an employee bonus to fixing a computer system. The program expands on Patterson's work via, a web site designed to help parents, teachers, and librarians ignite the next generation’s excitement about reading.

    Phoenix Books' own grant submission discussed the prospect of expanding on the store's already successful community outreach program by reaching out to under-served populations, strengthening partnerships with local schools, and establishing staff incentives for literacy-related volunteer work.  Patterson's reply reads, in part, "it was clear to me that Phoenix Books would be a worthy recipient of the funds.  Very worthy..... I hope that this check will allow you to continue doing good work in your store."

    Beth Wagner, Phoenix Books' children's book buyer, says, "We are absolutely thrilled and grateful to receive a grant from James Patterson's $1 million indie bookstore campaign. Like Mr. Patterson, we wholeheartedly believe that developing a love of reading in children is one of most important things we can do. Phoenix Books has always been committed to serving our local schools and libraries, and the generosity of Mr. Patterson will allow us to step up our outreach efforts."  Co-owner Mike DeSanto adds, "This grant allows Phoenix Books to do something for the community that we would otherwise not have been able to do, and for this we feel grateful and privileged."

    The round of grants that went out this last week totaled $267,000 to 55 bookstores as well as California Bookstore Day.  Phoenix Books was one of just two Vermont bookstores included in this distribution, the other being Norwich Bookstore.  Patterson is still taking submissions, and the rest of the $1 million will be disbursed in stages during the rest of the year.

    As Julie Bosman reported in the New York Times, "Mr. Patterson, the 66-year-old author of the Alex Cross detective books, young-adult fiction, nonfiction and even romance novels, has been one of the loudest voices in the book world warning about the publishing industry’s troubles. He is also one of the industry’s wealthiest writers. Each year, his publisher, Hachette, releases about 13 of his books, which seem to occupy semi-permanent spots on the best-seller lists. (From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Patterson’s books accounted for one out of every 17 hardcover novels purchased in the United States.)"

    About Phoenix Books:
    Phoenix Books was established in 2007 on the principles of social responsibility, community, and sustainability, and is a proud member of Local First Vermont and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. Phoenix Books Burlington and Phoenix Books Essex are locally-owned, independent bookstores.  Our Essex location also houses a gallery and cafe. Whenever possible, Phoenix Books sources eco-friendly products from Fair Trade/Green Certified companies.  Seven Days readers voted Phoenix Books the "Best Bookstore in Chittenden County" for the newspaper's 2013 Daysie Awards. Phoenix Books is located in Burlington at 191 Bank Street and in Essex at 21 Essex Way, #407. For more information, visit
    Posted 02/20/2014
  • Posted 02/11/2014
  • In this article from The New Yorker, George Packer explores the internet behemoth's influence on books.  "At the moment," writes Packer, "...people are obsessed with how they read books—whether it’s on a Kindle or an iPad or on printed pages. This conversation, though important, takes place in the shallows and misses the deeper currents that, in the digital age, are pushing American culture under the control of ever fewer and more powerful corporations. Bezos is right: gatekeepers are inherently élitist, and some of them have been weakened, in no small part, because of their complacency and short-term thinking. But gatekeepers are also barriers against the complete commercialization of ideas, allowing new talent the time to develop and learn to tell difficult truths. When the last gatekeeper but one is gone, will Amazon care whether a book is any good?"

    Read the full article here.

    Posted 02/11/2014
  • The following letter from Phoenix Books co-owner Mike DeSanto was published in the Burlington Free Press on December 12, 2013.

    Jeff Bezos claims to be planning to deliver books to your doorstep with drone aircraft.

    The national media, led by 60 Minutes, fawned and drooled all over this patently ridiculous idea.

    Millions of dollars of free publicity accrued to an company that hardly needs free help from the media, any more than it needs special protection from collecting sales taxes on what it sells, yet the avalanche of coverage was out of all proportion to the newsworthiness of the claim.

    Did any one think to ask why, since Bezos believes print books and the book stores that sell them are going the way of the Dodo, he would invest in something as absurdly impractical, expensive and unlikely as flying thousands of drones loaded with pounds and pounds of soon-to-be-extinct printed books to your doorstep? Seen any pigs in the air lately?

    Good grief, I thought the future was all about E-books. Perhaps someone should alert the Wall Street oligarchs that Bezos has a very odd bee in his bonnet.

    If you believe this was a serious thought, may I sell you a bridge in Brooklyn? The media has sunk to a new and all time low by covering a joke and treating it as news. Dumb and dumber!

    As an aside, I think it might be safer to get your books the old fashioned way, by going to the library or even a bricks and mortar book store. Happy Holidays!

    Posted 12/16/2013
  • As Bookselling this Week reported, "More than 1,000 authors could be found handselling books and chatting with customers in more than 400 independent bookstores nationwide on November 30, Small Business Saturday, which also marked the launch of bookstores’ Thanks for Shopping Indie marketing efforts." Phoenix Books was featured on the first page of this article!


    Authors appearing at Phoenix Books Burlington over the weekend of Small Business Saturday and Sunday included Rusty DeWees, James Kochalka, Dr. Arnie Kozak, Dr. Dave Landers, Daniel Lusk, Angela Patten, Tracey Campbell Pearson (who drew the illustration pictured below), Robert Resnik, and James Tabor.

    Posted 12/11/2013
  • Posted 08/29/2013
  • Posted 08/28/2013
  • The following is reprinted with permission from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (

    Here are five ways Amazon is costing our economy and undermining real job growth.

    1. Amazon destroys more jobs than it creates.

    Brick-and-mortar retailers employ 47 people for every $10 million in sales, according to an analysis by ILSR of US Census data. (If you exclude chains and look just at independent retailers, the figure is even higher — 52 jobs.) But Amazon employs only 14 people per $10 million in revenue. As Amazon grows and takes market share from other retailers, the result is a decline in jobs, not a gain.  In 2012, Amazon expanded its share of retail spending in North America by $8 billion, which works out to a net loss of about 27,000 jobs.

    2. Most Amazon jobs are awful.

    How does Amazon manage to sell so much stuff with so few workers? The online giant is technologically efficient, yes, but it also excels at squeezing a back-breaking amount of labor out of its employees. Amazon’s workplace abuses, including life-threatening temperatures inside its warehouses, injury-inducing workloads, and neo-Nazi guards, have been well-documented by investigative journalists.

    At the Amazon warehouse Obama is visiting in Chattanooga, workers are paid about $11.20 an hour, according to  That’s 17 percent less than the average wage for U.S. warehouse workers reported by the U.S. Labor Department.

    3. Amazon pilfers value created elsewhere in the economy.

    Another way Amazon gets by with such a small workforce is by leaning on the services provided by brick-and-mortar stores. Through its mobile app, Amazon actively encourages consumers to try-out merchandise in stores and then buy online. This allows Amazon to free-ride on the value created by other businesses. Take books, for example. Amazon now accounts for more than half of book sales. But, if you ask Amazon book shoppers where they learned about a book, only rarely is the answer Amazon. Far more often, according to research by Codex Group, they discovered the book while browsing in an actual bookstore.

    A similar dynamic is at play across a wide variety of products, from toys to cameras. The threat Amazon’s free-riding poses to the U.S. economy is that, over time, brick-and-mortar stores will no longer be around to showcase new products, depriving both consumers and manufacturers of a valuable service that stimulates demand and innovation.

    4. Amazon drains dollars from local economies.

    Amazon provides virtually no jobs or economic benefits to the vast majority of communities from which it derives its revenue. This stands in stark contrast to local retailers. Several case studies have found that about $45 of every $100 you spend at locally owned stores stays in your community, supporting other businesses and jobs. (Local retailers buy many goods and services, like printing and accounting, from other local businesses; their employees spend most of their earnings locally; and so on.)

    While the figure for national chain stores is considerably smaller, it’s almost zero for Amazon. In most cities and towns, save for a small amount paid to delivery drivers and perhaps a few third-party sellers using Amazon’s platform, all of the money residents spend at Amazon leaves their local economy, never to return.

    5. Amazon costs taxpayers.

    Amazon’s growth has come at a significant cost to taxpayers. The company has been demanding special tax rebates and subsidies as it expands. It recently received an $8.5 million subsidy to build a warehouse in Delaware, a $2 million grant to expand in Indiana, and more than $10 million worth of tax incentives to open the Chattanooga facilities President Obama is visiting this week.

    These deals are on top of the enormous financial advantage Amazon has enjoyed by virtue of not having to collect sales taxes in most of the country for the better part of two decades. That advantage is slowly coming to an end, but, over the years, it cost states and cities billions of dollars in lost revenue, while forcing local retailers to compete with one hand tied behind their backs.

    The future Amazon has in mind for our country is a far cry from the middle class prosperity President Obama has been seeking. A better place to look would be along Main Street, among the new generation of independent businesses, small-scale manufacturers, local food producers, and others that are beginning to chart a much more viable path from here to there.

    By Stacy Mitchell. 

    Posted 08/05/2013