Phoenix News

  • Starting this July, all four locations of Phoenix Books are giving copies of the U.S. 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.

    Posted 06/25/2018
  • Michael DeSanto has a New Year's resolution for Phoenix Books: to make the business a plastic bag-free zone. Effective January 1st, the Vermont-owned group of bookstores - with locations in Essex, Burlington, Rutland and Chester - has stopped using single-use plastic bags at the check-out counter, and instead offers customers the options of recycled/recyclable paper bags as well as reusable totes sold at or below cost.

    "I cannot turn a blind eye to the catastrophic effect plastic in general and plastic bags in particular have on our environment," said DeSanto, co-owner of the business. "Despite the challenges of finding sturdy replacements to protect the purchases of our customers, I am determined to make plastic bags disappear from our stores. I strongly believe this is the right thing to do. We will be promoting the use of reusable bags from now on, but I also don't see a sensible way to avoid using paper bags, although I would like to do that some day. We can't be perfect, I know that, but we can try to do the best we can. By eliminating plastic bags from Phoenix Books, perhaps we can help reduce the demand for the petroleum that makes up 80% of a plastic bag."

    In the United States, according to the EPA, we use over 380 billion plastic bags and wraps yearly, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to create. “From our point of view, single-use plastic bags represent a waste of resources,” says Michele Morris, Director of Outreach and Communications at the Chittenden Solid Waste District. “Especially when that bag is used just once, then tossed in the trash instead of being taken to one of the many grocery or other local retail locations that collect many types of bags and other filmy plastic for recycling. Anything sent to Vermont’s last remaining landfill as “trash” will stay buried there virtually forever. We applaud Phoenix Books for encouraging the use of durable, reusable bags whenever possible. Durable beats disposable all day long.”

    Morris further emphasizes that plastic bags, over-wraps and all other filmy plastics do not belong in your recycling bin because they cause all sorts of problems at the recycling sorting facility and contaminate other marketable materials. “Just because something has a triangle with a number doesn’t mean it’s recyclable in your blue bin. Not sure? Check out or call our hotline (802-872-8111)!”


    Posted 01/04/2018
  • On a blustery Monday night, over 100 people gathered in Burlington to discuss Amazon’s Stealth Invasion of Vermont, the first of two community forums highlighting the online behemoth’s threat to our local communities. Co-sponsored by Phoenix Books, Northshire Bookstore,, and the Preservation Trust of Vermont, the forum featured a presentation from Stacy Mitchell and Olivia LaVecchia of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, followed by a discussion moderated by Fran Stoddard, a well-known Vermont media producer and host.

    Mitchell highlighted some of the ways that Amazon is quietly altering the commercial landscape through its control of vital business infrastructure. Its ecommerce platform is used by tens of thousands of third party vendors. Through Amazon Web Services, it controls 44% of the world’s cloud computing capacity. And with its recent investments in shipping and package delivery services, Amazon seeks to control an even bigger piece of the retail pie.  “Amazon has the pipes, or the rails, through which commerce has to move, and what that enables it do is to is it can decide ‘here are the most lucrative pieces of this business, here are the goods that we want to manufacture and sell, here are the services we want to provide. We’ll use the fact we control the pipelines to push anybody else aside. And for everything else we don’t want to control, we’ll let other companies do it. We’ll charge them a fee to ride our rails, and we’ll essentially tax the rest of commerce,’” Mitchell said.

    With such intense online competition, Mitchell and LaVecchia emphasized the importance of local business alliances and the power of community. “Independent retailers do really have the strengths people continue to value,” said LaVecchia. Mitchell encouraged attendees to talk to others in our communities and our elected officials about these issues. “It’s going to be from the grassroots that is ultimately going to change things,” she said.

    (Photo L-R: Paul Bruhn, executive director, Preservation Trust of Vermont; Stacy Mitchell, co-director, ILSR; Renee Reiner, co-owner, Phoenix Books; Fran Stoddard, moderator; Mike DeSanto, co-owner, Phoenix Books; Olivia LaVecchia, Research Associate, ILSR; Ed Morrow, co-founder, Northshire Bookshop)

    Posted 11/14/2017
  • “The Jungle Book,” the first in a planned series of sculptures highlighting local and regional history, was unveiled today, beginning a new chapter for downtown Rutland and the city’s ongoing revitalization.

    “The Jungle Book is one of the most important pieces of literature ever written in Vermont, so it’s fitting to honor the book and its place in Vermont history,” said Michael DeSanto, co-owner of Phoenix Books-Rutland, which funded the project.  “Through seven stories, the book teaches children and adults alike about friendship, loyalty, trust, family, and the importance of rules.

    “These themes are often subtle, but they are the backbone of ‘The Jungle Book,’ and add depth and importance to what is far more than a series of simple children’s stories,” DeSanto said. “We are thrilled to honor this important Vermont book, and present this sculpture as a gift for generations to come to enjoy.”

    “We’re pleased to donate this marvelous piece to the City of Rutland,” co-owner Tricia Huebner said.  “The sculpture represents not only an important piece of literary history, but a way to say thank you for the fabulous support we have received as a new business during this time of rebirth in downtown.”

    The sculpture, a massive bookstand holding a 3-foot Jungle Book, characters rising off the pages, was carved by Vermont artist Sean Hunter Williams and funded by Phoenix Books in collaboration with the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, MKF Properties, Vermont Quarries and Green Mountain Power. The book honors Rudyard Kipling’s landmark stories, written while living in southern Vermont in 1893 and 1894 and combined into a book in 1894.

    The sculpture features Baloo the bear, Akela the wolf, Bagheera the panther and Mowgli the “man-cub,” key figures in the two most famous of the seven stories.

    “Parts of ‘The Jungle Book’ are dark and scary, but ultimately it’s a parable about the need to be part of a community,” said Steve Costello, a GMP vice president.  “From the strength of the wolves as a pack to the effort by Bagheera to help Mowgli find ‘a people,’ ‘The Jungle Book’ highlights the importance of belonging and sharing, in a family or society.  That’s a wonderful message, and it resonates in the greater-Rutland area, where community and collaboration have become touchstones for success.” 

    Mayor David Allaire, in formally accepting the gift to the city, thanked Phoenix Books-Rutland, Williams and project organizers for what he called a wonderful first step in what is expected to become a trail of world-class marble sculptures in downtown. “The planning, quality and detail that have gone into this bode well for the entire series,” Allaire said.  “On behalf of the city, and the thousands of people who will view and enjoy ‘The Jungle Book’ and future pieces, we are indebted to everyone who is making this happen.”

    This sculpture is part of a planned series honoring local and Vermont history.  “Stone Legacy,” a 10-foot sculpture of a stone carver commissioned by MKF and GMP and honoring the region’s long connection to the industry, will be installed in the new Center Street Marketplace in spring.  A third piece, commissioned by the extended Costello family, will honor Revolutionary War hero and Rutland residents Ann and Solomon Story. It will be carved next summer by artist Evan Morse. 

    Williams, a second-generation stone carver who created “The Jungle Book” over several months, said the piece brought out childhood memories of the book and various adaptations.  “As a carver, I am usually provided a very specific vision of what the buyer would like, but this project allowed a lot of discussion with Mike DeSanto and Tricia Huebner, and we developed a collective vision that tied into all of our views of the original story,” Williams said.  “I’m pleased with the piece, and excited to know it will be on public view for decades, contributing to Rutland’s revitalization. I am thrilled to play a part in this series, which I see as having transformative possibilities for downtown.” 

    Mark Foley Jr., from MKF Properties, said he hoped the project would inspire others to get involved and underwrite future projects.  “From John Deere’s invention of the modern plow, to the Civil War heroics of the Ripley brothers, to Paul Harris’ founding of Rotary International, this area has produced some outstanding historical characters,” Foley said.  “Our goals are to honor their contributions, beautify our community, and create public art that builds local pride and visitor appreciation for the region.”

    Carol Driscoll, executive director of the CSSC, said the sculpture series has already provided a boost to the non-profit center, which features classes, a gallery and open sculpture gardens.  “The interest in and attention to the sculpture series has been wonderful, bringing hundreds of new visitors to our gallery, shows and gardens,” Driscoll said.  “The project is already a success in my eyes, and I look forward to it having the same kind of impact here in downtown Rutland.”

    Posted 11/01/2017
  • News Release — VCFA, Phoenix Books
    Sept. 25, 2017

    Tim Simard

    Major Gift by leading independent bookstore will honor iconic Vermont writer

    Montpelier, Vt.—Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) and Phoenix Books, a Vermont-based independent bookseller, have announced the creation of a new VCFA scholarship that honors late author Howard Frank Mosher.

    Called the Phoenix Books Howard Frank Mosher Scholarship, the $10,000 award will be merit-based and given annually to an emerging fiction writer from Vermont in his or her first year of VCFA’s MFA in Writing & Publishing residential program. The first scholarship will be awarded in the 2018-2019 school year. Phoenix Books provided the gift and funding for the purpose of an annual MFA in Writing & Publishing scholarship, said VCFA President Thomas Christopher Greene.

    “Phoenix Books embodies the spirit of independent booksellers in the state and we at VCFA couldn’t be more grateful for their generosity and to partner with them on this project. This scholarship is a wonderful tribute to Howard Frank Mosher who was a giant in Vermont. Howard was the first significant writer to support my own work many years ago and we became personal friends. No writer was better known in this state and among his peers for his generosity,” said Greene. “Phoenix Books has stepped up in a big way in a manner that Howard would appreciate, nurturing a new generation by providing opportunity that otherwise might not be available.”

    “Michael DeSanto and I and Phoenix Books are honored to create this scholarship at VCFA. Howard was a great supporter of this institution and I believe he understood its intrinsic value to writing, to writers, and to the arts. Our hope is that this scholarship will support the works of new emerging Vermont writers, which Howard and VCFA have both done so well,” said Renee Reiner, co-owner with Michael DeSanto of Phoenix Books.

    Mosher, who lived in Irasburg, Vt., was the award-winning author of 13 books that mostly took place in and around Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. He passed away in January 2017 after a short illness. His last book, “Points North,” will be released this January.

    “This scholarship is the perfect way to honor Howard’s memory. He always tried to help new and upcoming writers by offering them advice, and often times encouraged them to pursue an MFA. He was also a champion of local bookstores. He used to say that independent booksellers were the ones that made him a success,” said Mosher’s widow, Phillis Mosher.

    Greene and poet Daniel Lusk, speaking on behalf of Phoenix Books, announced the scholarship’s creation during the third annual Vermont Book Award Gala held at VCFA on Sept. 23, 2017. Mosher was a judge for the 2015 Vermont Book Award and this year’s gala was dedicated to him.

    Posted 10/03/2017
  • Phoenix Books Essex has announced that the store will move to a larger space in late July of this year. The new location is at 2 Carmichael Street in Essex, just around the corner from the bookstore’s current home at Essex Outlets.

    Phoenix Books was founded in Essex in 2007 by Michael DeSanto and Renee Reiner, and has since added locations in Burlington, Rutland, and Chester, Vermont, plus a sister store in Woodstock. DeSanto reaffirmed the store’s commitment to Essex, and said that the new lease is for ten years or more. ”We love this community, and our customers have been strong supporters of Phoenix Books,” said DeSanto.

    DeSanto adds that, since the business has expanded (and he does not rule out the possibility of adding additional stores in the future), the Essex location needs more office, shipping and receiving and storage spaces, which the larger location will provide. The additional space will also allow Phoenix Books Essex to increase inventory, expand bargain book offerings, explore the possibility of selling used books and better serve the community through partnerships with schools, offsite events and other local organizations.

    The new space also has other advantages, including high visibility from Route 15, which boasts 15,000 cars per day driving past the location. “Every car that goes by will see our signage and know there is an indie bookstore right here,” said Renee Reiner. She notes that Carmichael Street is home to a number of locally owned businesses. “We think the local flavor of the pet shop and the restaurants are a good fit for us, and the new spot is just a short walk from our current location.”

    Construction has already started under CedarLedge Builders with design by Joshua Nase. Reiner is supervising the construction and buildout on the space, which she says will include “a play area for children as well as lots of comfortable chairs for adults to review their book selections.”

    There will not be a café in the new location. DeSanto acknowledges that some customers will miss this amenity, but notes that the new space is adjacent to a Dunkin Donuts, and steps away from My Little Cupcake, Mimmo’s, Cody’s, and Joyce’s Noodle House, giving customers several choices for refreshments before or after their visit to Phoenix Books.

    The store’s current lease at Essex Outlets doesn’t run out until the end of September, which will allow for a quick and efficient move.  “We expect to close for less than a week during the actual move,” notes General Manager Colleen Shipman.  “And we have exciting plans in the works for a celebration of Phoenix’s ten-year anniversary in the new space this September.”

    “Every so often,” says DeSanto, “a bookstore, or any business, must reinvent itself by rising up from the ashes of its older self to emerge as a newer, more modern and improved version of the original. So Phoenix will do over the summer of 2017.”



    In the news:


    Posted 06/02/2017
  • Phoenix Books funds sculpture, honoring Vermont author Rudyard Kipling, in second of planned downtown series

    Work on the first carving announced in a planned series of historical stone sculptures in downtown Rutland will begin in August - but organizers say the “second” sculpture will be completed before the first.

    The second planned project, a tribute to “The Jungle Book” and famed Vermont author Rudyard Kipling, will be funded by the owners of Phoenix Books Rutland, Michael DeSanto, Renee Reiner and Tom and Tricia Huebner. The marble monument will be created by Artist in Residence Sean Williams at the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center this summer. It will feature a copy of the landmark children’s book open on a bookstand, three-dimensional characters rising off the pages. The sculpture will be installed on Center Street, west of the bookstore, at a height designed to invite children’s curiosity.

    DeSanto, who with his partners opened Phoenix Books Rutland in 2015 with help from more than 50 local families, said he was intrigued by plans for “Stone Legacy,” the first sculpture announced in the series. “The arts are incredibly important and can play a tremendous role in creating beauty and a sense of pride in a community,” DeSanto said. “Rutland has so much to be proud of, including its wonderful downtown, so we jumped at the opportunity to add to its character. We owe so much to Rutland, and this is a way of saying ‘thank you.’”

    Tricia Huebner, who manages the Rutland store, said she and her husband were equally pleased to support the project, in part in hopes it will prompt others to step forward to support future additions to the sculpture series. “How many folks know that ‘The Jungle Book’ was written in Vermont?” Huebner asked. “Once this is complete, every person who walks down Center Street will see this fabulous piece of art and learn a little about our history. We’re hopeful these projects will multiply, accentuate the beauty of downtown Rutland, tell some of our history, and create a significant draw for locals and tourists alike.”

    Williams, who has a lengthy resume of commissioned public and private art, said he was enamored with the thought of helping build community through art. “I was immediately drawn to the project and began working on clay concepts as soon as I was approached with the possibility,” Williams said. “As a Barre artist, I am thrilled that my work will stay in the Green Mountain State and help add life to a community I’ve long thought of as my city’s soulmate. Barre and Rutland have always been tied to the stone industry and the tradition of craftsmanship our forebears created.”

    “The Jungle Book” project is a partnership with by Carol Driscoll of The Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland and Steve Costello from Green Mountain Power and Rutland Blooms, who solicited funding from Phoenix Books Rutland. Gawet Marble and Granite Company and Green Mountain Power have provided logistical help, and Rutland Blooms will provide funding for installation.

    “I’ve had a love for ‘The Jungle Book’ since I heard the album that came out with the Disney film 50 years ago, when I was 4 years old,” Costello said. “I knew Kipling wrote the original stories in Vermont, so as we thought about possible subjects and funders for the sculpture series, ‘The Jungle Book’ and Phoenix Books seemed a natural fit. Within days of floating the idea, we had their commitment to fund the project.” MKF Properties and Green Mountain Power commissioned the roughly 20-ton “Stone Legacy” sculpture as a tribute to the thousands of quarry workers, stonecutters and artists who built the stone industry in Rutland County. That sculpture is a collaboration between U.S and Italian artists and artisans at the CSSC in August, using stone donated by Vermont Quarries in Danby, Vt.

    “This all started as a celebration of our 30'th anniversary, initially conceived as a one-off project,” said Driscoll, executive director of the CSSC. “As Steve, Mark and I talked about additional concepts and funding sources, it quickly became evident that we had tapped into something special, and we are already considering ideas for future sculptures to honor men and women who contributed to our history.”

    Organizers plan a multi-year project that includes the addition of at least one major piece annually in downtown Rutland. The third sculpture, in the very early planning stages, is expected to feature Rutland resident Ann Story, who was a pioneer, Revolutionary War-era spy, and American hero. Other figures under consideration include “Snowflake” Bentley, Rutland’s John Deere, Norman Rockwell, Ethan Allen, Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Alexander Twilight, among others.

    Foley and Driscoll had been talking about a possible project when Costello, who founded GMP’s Rutland Blooms project, visited Rapid City, S.D., last fall, where sculptures of every U.S. president have created a huge tourist draw. Rutland Blooms is a citywide beautification effort, based on volunteerism and using donations from the business community, that has planted hundreds of flowering crabapple trees over the past four years. Costello came home intent on expanding Rutland Blooms’ focus into history-based public art. After speaking with Foley, they agreed to collaborate with Driscoll on “Stone Legacy” and eventually on a series of sculptures.

    “‘Stone Legacy’ and the sculptures that follow will help teach visitors and locals alike about this community and state,” Foley said. “From heroes to artists to everyday people who did extraordinary things, we want to honor those who made Rutland and Vermont the special places they are today.”

    Posted 05/22/2017
  • 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.

    Posted 03/15/2017
  • On February 11th, an event was held at Phoenix Books Rutland to celebrate the release of the book We Are One Rutland. This book was written by kids from the Rutland City Boys & Girls Club and designed by students at the Stafford Technical Center. The book is a collection of interviews with people in the Rutland area who bring diversity to the community. All proceeds from sales of the book go to the Boys and Girls Club. Phoenix Books Rutland still has copies available for sale.

    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.

    Posted 02/23/2017
  • 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.” 
    - BookBrowse

    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.




    Posted 02/13/2017