Gift Trust Books

Bookstore Operates on the Honors System for Unique Shopping Experience

The welcoming space features art, books and more for sale, along with ambient music and a little kitchen in case you need a snack?

By Liv Ream

How does a hole-in-the-wall bookshop  in Akron compete with the likes of a widely known corporate-goliath like Books-a-Million? 

Surprisingly well, and not at all. 

This nearly hidden bookshop located underneath Northside Cellar is a diamond (not in the rough) of the Northside District. Avid readers and casual consumers alike will want to visit Trust Books. 


The mission of making knowledge available to all through books began in June 2018, with Michael Owens opening the first branch of Trust Books at 106 North Main Street. 


Trust Books follow a completely different business model in contrast to chain stores, hinted at in its name. 

Well, Trust Books has a completely different business model than pretty much any spot you've ever visited.

Instead, deciding quality over quantity in regards to selection, Trust Books relies on shoppers trusting them to curate a more thoughtful selection of stories. 

In return, Trust Book’s business model is to trust the customer. 

Operating off of a farmstand economic model, customers pay by writing down what they bought and leaving cash in the open register downstairs or making a cashless payment upstairs at Northside Cellar.


I didn’t get the opportunity to interview Michael Owen, but I did get to experience Trust Books as a consumer. 

I can’t recommend this independent bookstore enough.

With titles available from every genre, low ceilings, and obscure looking art covering the walls, the space felt more intimate than cramped or cluttered. A true, “If you know, you know.”

Among the many books, a red rolling cart can be seen clad in bright yellow caution tape. Residing on the metal shelves, dangerous books like Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and the Bible.

Banned books claiming sanctuary on the metal shelves, are appropriately labeled in bright ribbons to warn prospective buyers.

As to what qualifies a book for banned status, I am unsure. I am sure that I saw, “Chicken Soup For the Mother’s Soul” next to “Mockingjay,” which didn’t clarify the criteria involved in such a ban. 

Then again, who knows if a mischievous customer slid Chicken Soup over to the shelf.

There is also a lucite plastic books with a sign saying "refugee books, $5." Below it says "Need Curious Home." Roots, by Alex Haley, sat next to the sign.


My overall impression, every downtown needs an unusual basement bookshop like Trust Books, especially during the holidays. 


Trust Books is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you see the owner, ask him whether or not anyone has dishonored the honors system for us and let us know.


For more info, visit:           

(left) Trust books is the kind of unusual bookshop that every downtown needs. Photos by Liv Ream.

To reach content author Liv Ream, email her here.

Downtown Akron Partnership Announces Downtown Dollars E-Gift Card Program > read more here.