Atlanta bookstore owner Katie Barringer creates a unique niche

Cover Bookstore owner Katie Barringer and Skye Johnson (Photo Credit: Munson Steed)
Cover bookstore owner Katie Barringer and Skye Johnson (Photo credit: Munson Steed)

Atlanta native Katie Barringer has a unique love for the arts. She’s the owner of Cover bookstore, a unique bookstore in Atlanta that fuses all of her interests together, including art, design, food, wine and photography. Her bookstore offers something that the larger chains don’t: originality, creativity, and harder to find books that may not be offered in the chain bookstores. Barringer also brings innovation to her bookstore as she curates talks featuring local influencers and creatives discussing the literature that inspires them. She’s hosted New York-based chef Mina Stone a dinner and also conducts book readings and events for new book authors as well.

Barringer recently conducted a book reading event with rolling out’s publisher Munson Steed for his newest book, Little Professor Skye: Favorite Things. Cover bookstore was the perfect place to conduct a reading for Steed’s book and they were ecstatic to add Little Professor Skye to their collection.

During the event, Barringer shared with rolling out what it takes for her to be a successful  Read her story below.

What inspires you to show up at work every day?

My work is what inspires me! I gain my strength from the beauty and knowledge that are found within the titles I carry.  They teach me, they challenge me, they excite me, and they calm me.

How did you determine your career path?

My career path is something that I consider pre-destined, rather than pre-determined. A very non-linear 10 years led me to where I am now. In hindsight, what seemed disjointed was actually leading me to the exact professional position I was meant to fill. The way in which my past experiences have come together in the format of this store is nothing that anyone could have predicted but is something that everyone who knows me can appreciate.

Define innovation methods you apply to your business and life.

In both business and life, my innovation methods are almost a backlash to most. Whereas more and more places are aiming to give exponential choices, at a faster rate, with as little person-to-person interaction as possible, I seek ways to encourage people to slow down, simplify and open their minds to new ideas and new conversations. At the store, we try to remind people of the value of imagination, spontaneity and surprise. Not everything should be overly prescribed. I’m not sure if that’s innovative, but it’s definitely not the norm.

Describe how you set goals and evaluate your success.

I have found that the best way to reach a goal is to balance big picture ambition with a practical understanding of the small steps required to get there. In the past, I tended to aim high and solely focus on the endgame, and while that’s important, I have found that most of my successes have happened with a slower, more diligent and focused approach in which I evaluate my status constantly.

Names three books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others?

While I could name 100 books that have changed me, recently there were two articles from the New York Times that simultaneously made me very aware of how I wanted to live life. They were both written a few months before the idea for Cover came to me, and I don’t know if I would have been so receptive to pursuing the idea if I hadn’t read them. One piece was about Peter Matthiessen and the importance of simplifying yourself and the other was about LouLou Van Damme and the importance of being bold, curious and creative. So, my mantra with the store is to have a balance of the two: be fabulous but don’t complicate your life with unnecessary clutter – be it emotional or physical. While the articles themselves are still powerful for me, it was the timing that made all the difference. I was craving guidance and they delivered in a most unexpected way.


Describe why lifelong learning is important to you.

With knowledge comes power and inspiration. If you stop being open to learning, then you stunt not just your intellectual growth but your emotional, creative, and interpersonal growth. Stagnation never helps anyone.

What are the three most important factors of being a successful woman?

Same for a man: have integrity. You can get granular but I think it truly comes down to that. Have integrity with yourself, your work, and your relationships. If you apply it to every area of your life, you will become more honest, strong, humble and warm….and others will want to build you up. Misery may like company, but generosity and integrity love company and will double-down every time, even if it takes a little more time and effort.

Technology plays what role in your daily life?

While I utilize various types of technology during every part of my day, its most important use is for communication purposes. With social media, I can share what the business does in ways that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to without it. As a small business owner, being able to do this in a spontaneous and inexpensive way is incredible. Technology allows me to connect with other like-minded and open-minded people who can value and support what Cover does, and that kind of connection can lead to unbelievable things.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

For everyone to be more open-minded. It would lead to less fear and less aggression and lead to more curiosity, positive exchange, and understanding.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

To be more patient and more understanding of imperfection. I’m a tough critic!

Who or what motivates you and why?

My mother motivates me more than anyone or anything. She, like me, has a very high set of standards that she applies to herself, her work and her relationships. Because of this, she is an intensely intelligent, charming, well-rounded and well-liked person. She motivates me to do and expect nothing short of the best. Her stamp of approval holds a stronger value than anything for me … and when I get it, nothing feels better!

What are the do’s and don’ts for young women in business?

Same for men: do have confidence and ambition. Do know that it will be hard at times. But don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t let everyday business struggles affect your sense of personal self-worth.

How do you successfully grow from business failure?

Being able to look at mistakes with honesty and humility and ask for help when the solution isn’t yet in your own reach. Mistakes and failures are a natural part of a growing business, but how you acknowledge them and plan to avoid them in the future makes all the difference.

Name three successful female role models and explain why you admire them.

Not all of my female role models are “successful.” But I am lucky to know many talented, strong, loving, and most importantly — real — females, and for me, that counts more than any sort of measured success. Having integrity and staying true to yourself matters more than anything.

Photos by Munson Steed

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