Louisville-based online bookstore hosts a pop-up store at Quills Coffee

After spending the summer of 2021 cruising cross-country with her boyfriend in a converted bus, Callie Basso decided she wanted a more sustainable lifestyle. While passing through Louisville on their way back to Georgia, Basu and her boyfriend decide they want to move to Derby City.

“We packed up and moved here,” Basu said. “It was a lot like some sort of automatic thing.”

Exactly a week after moving to the metro area in November 2021, Basu launched its business Set and setupAffordability-oriented, online library. On Saturday, September 17 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Paso will host the second-ever pop-up bookstore in coffee quills In Nulu, 802 E. Main St.

“It’s really hard right now to place orders constantly, which is why I started creating popups,” Basu said of the niche concept. “When you are primarily an online business and you are trying social media marketing, the algorithms often work against you.”

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In her makeshift debut last month, Basso resided near Quills’ courtyard next to her large garage door.

She said, “While people were waiting for their coffee, they were kind of hanging around. I met a bunch of people who were excited about books, and it was nice being able to actually talk to people. I work for myself, I work from home, so I’m pretty isolated all the time” .

The most expensive books they sell are new hardcover books that sell for $13, but most other books are $10 or less. Paperback books at major retailers can be worth more than $30 each.

“Everyone has five to ten dollars, and they want to spend it on a little reward for themselves. Some of these people want to spend (the money) on books,” Basu told Courier-Journal.

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Basso keeps its Set & Setting prices low by saving, taking advantage of wholesalers, and accepting book donations from the community.

To date, the online bookstore has sold 630 books, generating a net income of between $3,000 and $4,000. Basu always tries to keep 150-300 titles in stock, and currently has 200 books, many of which will be for sale during Quills popups.

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Born in Georgia and raised in a military family, Basu considers herself “from everywhere”. Now, describing herself as a “transplant” in Louisville, she is looking to find her community while taking new roots.

“(I) don’t have a community here yet, so I’m trying to attract one around me,” Basu said.

Before moving to Louisville, Basso ran two other companies that were also primarily online stores. In 2017, she opened her first business where she made macrame and wire earrings. Eventually, she left this job to move to Atlanta, and began her second job making ornaments, figurines, and earrings out of resin.

Like many, I resisted burnout. Her boyfriend encouraged her to take a vacation and “just exist”. During her month-long break, she found herself doing a lot of reading. Then she sat down and assessed what she could do that would bring her happiness.

“It was always books and reading and things like that, so I really wanted to know how to turn books into[a business],” Basu said.

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The other thing that was important to her was the ability to work for herself.

“I have ADHD, and I have autism,” Basu said. “I don’t do well with other people, just because I need accommodations and things like that.”

Although neither of its first two companies existed, they helped Basu develop an online community that transcends geography.

She said, “I’m fortunate to have built a community online. It’s a small community, but it’s powerful.”

Paso Louisville is a place for book lovers, noting its 17 bookstore branches and beloved local stores such as Carmichael Library And big chains like Barnes and Noble And the half price books.

“There are a lot of books going on in this city,” she said. “I’m not necessarily trying to compete, I’m not trying to steal customers away from other companies, I’m just trying to get people who want cheap books from someone they recognize instead of Half Price books. Or goodwill.”

What’s next for the Set & Setting Library in Louisville?

As Basu approaches her company’s first anniversary, she tries to focus on the positives while working toward long-term success.

“You want instant gratification, you want success cases, but I think I’ve reached a point where I’m making moves every month. So I’m just trying to find pride in persistent perseverance,” she said.

Ultimately, Basso would like to turn Set & Setting into an online store that also sells home goods and souvenirs at affordable prices, and envisions it as a one-stop shop for books and collectibles.

“I really like trinkets and random things,” Basu said. “But right now, it’s just an affordable online library.”

It also plans to eventually expand its pop-ups to additional venues, such as breweries.

“I thought I’d wet my feet with the feathers first and then see where it would take me,” said Basu.

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Its ultimate goal? Open a storefront where locals can enjoy books at affordable prices and find a sense of community. Basso doesn’t have much experience staying in one city for long, but as she works to make Louisville her home, she’s set some dreams in stone.

Set & Setting started here. I hope it stays here. “I hope one day I will have a brick and mortar here,” Basu said.

Contact reporter Olivia Evans at oevans@courier-journal.com or on Twitter at @oliviamevans_

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