EDITOR’S NOTE: Jody Swanson will be holding a “Farewell To The Bookstore” party at Cloud & Leaf on Sunday, June 30th at 3 pm. Everyone is welcome.
By Dan Haag
As of July 1, Cloud & Leaf Bookstore in Manzanita will have a new owner. Jody Swanson, the shops’ owner since 2004, will hand the keys over to Manzanita resident and author Deborah Reed.
“I’m excited about interacting with others after years of being locked away writing,” Reed said. “I also look forward to getting to know my own community better, and playing a role in offering something that means so much to me—books, books, books!”
Reed has written four novels: Things We Set on Fire, Carry Yourself Back to Me, Olivay, and her latest, The Days When Birds Come Back. Her forthcoming novel, Violet Swan, will be published in spring 2020.
The sale was a match made in literary heaven. Over the past few years, Reed and her husband, Robert Kelleher, often discussed asking Swanson to let them know if she was ever considering selling. Though they never got around to it, the opportunity suddenly presented itself at the beginning of 2019.
“I heard a whisper that Jody was looking to sell the bookstore to the right person,” Reed said. “The second I heard this I knew that buying it was the right thing to do. I contacted Jody right away, and now here we are.”
In a day and age when independent bookstores feel the constant pressure of online shopping, owning a bookstore isn’t without risk.
Still, Swanson has successfully curated the shelves of her store for a loyal base of customers and Cloud & Leaf is the only independent book store in Tillamook County, a testament to her dedication. She is cognizant of the reading legacy she has built, not just from the retail aspect, but from community partnerships.
That includes the Manzanita Writers Series, which has partnered with Cloud & Leaf since 2008. The shop handled all author book sales at events. In addition, Cloud & Leaf hosted additional authors at the Hoffman Center for the Arts for book readings, signings and discussions. The partnership established Manzanita as a “reader-and-writer-centric” town.
“I am really proud of what Cloud & Leaf has become, and I am so grateful to everyone who has passed through it,” Swanson said.
Reed is very aware of Cloud & Leaf’s status as a community literary hub. As an author, she is looking forward to learning more how things operate on the other end of the book business. While she has no plans of making major changes to the store’s operation and atmosphere, she encourages customers to come to her with suggestions.
“Cloud & Leaf is such a gem as it is, and I have every intention of continuing the same great service that Jody has offered all these years,” she said. “I’m interested in learning what people want to see in their local, independent bookstore.”
For her part, Swanson isn’t sure what life after Cloud & Leaf will hold. After 15 years of catering to a legion of book worms, she admits she is taking a bit of a leap into the unknown. But she has no regrets and looks back with great pride.
“One of my favorite things has been watching kids who have come here over the years with their families grow up, including my daughter, Dinah,” she said. “It has been such a privilege to see kids excited about books and reading. Parents will leave their kids in here to read while they go next door to the bakery to wait in line, and that has been one of the biggest honors I can imagine.”
Jody Swanson will be holding a “Farewell To The Bookstore” party at Cloud & Leaf on Sunday, June 30th at 3 pm. Everyone is welcome.