how to sell books on amazon

How to Sell Books on Amazon: Tips & Secrets From a 3-Year Bookseller

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Today, I’m going to teach you how to sell books on Amazon. Frankly, it’s one of the best ways to start out selling stuff online.

And I’ll give you three reasons in just a moment.

First, there’s something important you need to know:

Ebay, as a place to sell stuff, sucks.

Okay, maybe I’m being unfair.

After all, there’s plenty of successful Ebay sellers out there.

Hell, I’ve read #girlboss, and Sophia A is a total inspiration.

But, after reading my story, I think you’ll understand why that’s it’s way easier to sell stuff on Amazon than Ebay, and how selling books on Amazon is a great way to get started without spending thousands on inventory, plus it’s a perfect way to raise funds to start your private label Amazon business.

 

how to sell books on amazon

My book inventory when I still sold FBM.

How to Sell Books on Amazon: Part 1

3 Reasons Why Selling Books on Amazon is a Great Way to Start

Long before I made six-figures selling my own branded products on Amazon, I was a book seller. My method was a little different than many booksellers, but it definitely helped prime me for bigger and better things on the platform.

A little background first.

 

How I became a bookseller.

I hated my 9-5 job. Hated it.

Back in 2015 I was selling cars. And yep… all the bad stuff you hear about car salesmen is 100% true.

After three years of it, I’d had enough.

 

how to sell books on Amazon

My life as a car salesmen–I just wanted it to end!

So, I started looking for a way out. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I just didn’t know where to begin.

And like many, I was scared to make a move.

But then I read about passive income. That’s how I discovered book selling.

I didn’t have a lot of money to start with either. Just a few hundred bucks. And frankly, I didn’t even want to risk that.

Fortunately, I had an old comic book collection I’d been meaning to sell off. Without any better idea of what to do (back then, I had no idea how to sell books on Amazon), I turned to one of the most popular peer-to-peer sales platform on the web:

Ebay.

Thus, I made some great auction pages and listed my comics. Then, I just sat and waited…

… and waited…

… and waited.

A week passed and my auctions ended.

Zero sales.

And here’s why…

 

Reason #1 Amazon is a Great Place to Sell Books: Shared Listings

When you sell a product on Ebay, it’s you AND your listing that’s competing. And even if you’re the cheapest or best entry, you might not appear on the first page of search results (not unless the shopper uses the filters, of course). And despite the fact that my comic books were priced aggressively, the listings whose sellers had been selling on Ebay longer (sometimes for a decade or more) were given precedence.

 

how to sell books on Amazon

Ebay lists individually by seller, not item. Weirdos.

Not exactly newbie friendly, was it?

However, Amazon’s a totally different story.

When you list a product on Amazon, it goes under the master listing. From there, entries are organized by condition and price. Furthermore, if you’re the lowest priced listing (and your seller rating isn’t too out-of-whack) you’ll grab the coveted BUY BOX.

This makes your entry the one shoppers buy when they click the big, orange “Add-to-Cart” button.

how to sell books on Amazon

How to Sell Books on Amazon Tip #1

Price your product the lowest on a listing and you’ll earn the BUY BOX, which increases the chances of your product selling tenfold.

 

Switching over to Amazon.

Ebay? Sucks. (I already covered that)

But I didn’t want to give up selling stuff online.

Thus, I turned to Amazon.

Back then, I had no idea that Amazon selling was a thing. I thought, like I’m sure many do, that nearly everything sold on Amazon was sold by Amazon themselves. Nowadays I know better–in fact, I’m willing to bet that more than half of what’s sold on Amazon is by third-party sellers.

Of course, I didn’t really know how to sell books on Amazon. For example, there’s three ways a third-party seller can sell on Amazon.

Three ways to sell your own products on Amazon:

  • Fulfilled-by-merchant (FBM). This is when you create a listing on Amazon, but ship the product yourself. This is good for sellers who’ve already got a pretty solid fulfillment network in place.
  • Amazon vendors (AMZ). This is when you sell your inventory directly to Amazon through their vendor central services. This is good for enterprise sellers who need to unload a crapload of inventory fast.
  • Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA). This is when you create a listing on Amazon, but let Amazon do the storing and shipping on your behalf. As a bonus, your products sell Prime. This is probably the most popular way how to sell on Amazon for beginners.

I started off with fulfilled-by-merchant (FBM). I’d store, pack, and ship my own books as they sold.

24 hours later…

I remember exactly where I was when I got my first Amazon sale.

It was about 4:00pm on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015. It was my copy of The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1. I had the Amazon seller app, so the moment it sold I got a notification on my cell phone.

And then, just a few hours later I sold another book. Two in one day!

Did I mention that Ebay sucks?

 

how to sell books on Amazon

A pile of books waiting for me to list them on Amazon.

Dave the book-listing machine.

With proof-of-concept in place, I started going buck wild. I quickly learned more about how to sell books on Amazon. One of the most important things I learned about how to sell books on Amazon was its best-seller-ranking system (BSR).

 

how to sell books on amazon

Reason #2 Amazon is a Great Place to Sell Books: Best-Seller Rankings (BSR)

Each and every product that’s sold at least one unit on Amazon is awarded a BSR. The lower the BSR, the more sales the product makes.

So, for example, if a book has a BSR of 30,000, that means it’s likely to sell the same day you list it. But if it has a BSR of 2,500,000, it could take 60 days or more to sell the book.

How to Sell Books on Amazon Tip #2

Best-Seller Ranking (BSRs) are your guide to whether a not a book is worth listing. Lower is better. When I sold books, I rarely listed books that had a BSR higher than 200,000.

I would type all of my books’ ISBNs (little codes books are given to keep them organized) manually into Amazon. Then, I’d cross reference the book’s BSR.

If it was lower than 200k, I listed it.

If it was higher than 200k, I put it in the “donation” pile.

Were I to list books on Ebay, the only way I’d know whether or not a book sold well was by checking “recently sold” items and then checking the distances between dates. That’s pretty time consuming!

 

Books ready to ship!

Growing my book empire.

Months passed. I was selling roughly 10 books per day and making decent profit, too (although, I probably could have done better had I been using a certain profit-tracking tool… more on that in a moment). However, the big problem I was running into was that packaging and shipping books myself was taking up a ton of my time.

That’s when I discovered FBA.

Well, FBA had been there for a while. But for whatever reason I never really looked into it.

But then I felt like a dummy for not checking it out sooner.

 

how to sell books on Amazon

One of Amazon’s massive fulfillment centers.

Reason #3 Amazon is a Great Place to Sell Books: Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA)

Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA) is a program that Amazon offers its sellers which allows them to ship their inventory directly to one of their giant, million-acre fulfillment centers (FC). From there, Amazon stores your products/books for you. When a sale goes through, they pick, pack, and ship your product. Plus, they deal with customer service issues like returns, complaints, etc. on your behalf.

Game changer.

Now, instead of spending 3-4 hours every night packing books and another 30 minutes waiting in line at the post office, all I had to do was pack up my used books and send them straight to Amazon. They did everything else!

Plus, my books were now going out PRIME, which meant conversions shot through the roof.

How to Sell Books on Amazon Tip #2

Unless you’ve got a distribution channel already in place, use Amazon FBA. It helps you sell your books a lot faster and does all the work for you. All you have to do is find the inventory.

Now that I didn’t have to worry about storing so many books, I could up my BSR cutoff, too. After all, Amazon would be storing them. And so long as they didn’t hang out in the FCs too long, I’d avoid most late fees. So now I went from under 250,000 BSR to 1,000,000.

. . .

 

How to Sell Books on Amazon: Part 2

Finding Books to Sell on Amazon

Amazon bookselling is its own world, and within that world there’s lots of different methods of doing it. These methods stand out from each other not-so-much by the way they sell or distribute their products, but more how they find their inventory.

Here’s three different ways to find books to sell on Amazon:

 

Book Finding Method #1 – Scanning

Of all the ways how to sell books on Amazon, this is probably the most popular method. You’ve probably seen these people at book sales, library sales, and even used book stores digging through piles of dusty tomes like zombies.

Basically, those that use the scanning method go to sales where books are priced dirt cheap (usually under $1.00) and scan each and every bar code with their cell phone or portable scanner. An app on their phone cross reference’s the book’s BSR as well as the book’s lowest sales price and lets the seller know whether or not the book is worth purchasing. Typically, a Scanner will carry a box, shopping cart, or many reusable shopping bags to lug their goods around.

This method is very similar to retail arbitrage.

 

how to sell books on Amazon

Book Finding Method #2 – Wholesaling

This was the primary method that I used to find books.

Instead of scanning each and every book at a book sale, I’d just make offers on the entire lot. This worked especially well at yard sales, estate sales, and even book store closings. By being indiscriminate, it meant that I could get the price per book way down (usually less than $0.25 per book), but also meant that I was left with a lot of duds. With good purchases, I’d usually have 3 “donate” books for every 1 book I listed. So, effectively, my inventory cost $1.00 per item.

How to Sell Books on Amazon Tip #4

The best time to make an offer an a large lot of books is at the end of the sale. Most people HATE dealing with books, and will sell them off for pretty cheap. I’ve often bought 200+ books in one shot for only $20 just because the sellers didn’t want to deal with them.

And a lot of times you can get them for FREE, too!

 

online arbitrage

Book Finding Method #3 – Online Arbitrage (OA)

The other way I found books was through online arbitrage.

Online arbitrage is a method of buying a book on one marketplace (such as Ebay or Craiglist) to resell on another. Since it’s a little more time consuming than scanning or wholesaling, it’s best to target books that sell for $25 or more. Textbooks and first edition books are especially great targets.

How to Sell Books on Amazon Tip #5

College kids are terrible planners and tend to buy their textbooks at the last minute. For this reason, they’ll usually pay 20%+ more to have a book ship 2-3 days Prime versus waiting 10+ days for media mail. So that means you can buy books which are FBM (and tend to ship media mail) and turn around and resell them Prime at a higher price. I kept a list of 10-20 textbooks I could do this with. The returns are better than the stock market!

. . .

 

How to Sell Books on Amazon: Part 3

8 Simple Steps to Starting an Amazon Book Selling Business

Now you understand some of the basics of how to sell books on Amazon. Here’s a pretty simple how-to on selling books that’ll hopefully get you started.

 

how to find books on Amazon

Step 1. Pick your sourcing method.

Of the methods listed above, pick which one best fits you and your personality. Are you the kind of person who likes the thrill of a treasure hunt? Then become a Scanner. Or are you a deal maker? Then go for wholesaling! Finally, you might just be happy with flipping the same 10 textbooks over and over again. That means OA is for you.

(If you’re going to sell books with a scanner, make sure you get a good scanning app that can scan books with a push of a button.)

 

how to find books on Amazon

Step 2. Find your inventory.

If you’re going to scan or do wholesale, start looking around for book sales. Check with your local library and used book stores when they plan on putting a sale on. Hop on Craig’s List and Facebook Marketplace to see when there’s a yard sale or estate sale with a lot of books. You might even find someone selling their own collection.

How to Sell Books on Amazon Tip #6

If you don’t want to or can’t spend money to start, just look around your house for some old books to list. That’s what I did, listing my comic books. I was surprised to discover how valuable some of the old titles were.

For online arbitrage, start looking at textbooks, especially textbooks that are one or two editions behind (students love buying those, because they’re cheaper for them; and for you, the variance between FBM and FBA is often much higher).

 

how to sell books on Amazon

Step 3. Create an Amazon seller account.

To sell on Amazon, you’ll need an Amazon seller account. There’s two types of accounts you can start: individual and professional. Individual is free, but you pay an extra $1.00 per sale. Meanwhile, professional costs $39.95 per month, but doesn’t have the $1.00 extra fee. So basically, if you think you’re going to sell more than 40 units per month (to put it in perspective, I sold 300 books per month when I started) get the professional selling plan.

How to Sell Books on Amazon Tip #7

If you’re going to sell more than 40 units per month (pretty easy to do with books), then get the professional selling plan. It’s a $39.95 subscription fee, but you avoid the $1.00 fee tacked on to every sale made as an individual seller.

how to sell books on Amazon

Step 4. Use Fetcher to track costs and profits.

When you’re dealing with hundreds of titles, it’s pretty easy to lose track of what costs what.

I was no better when I started. I’d pay $500 for 500 books one day, then $80 for 2,000 the next. Plus, I’d have a few textbooks I bought for $30 or more thrown in.

It was a total mess!

So when I made sales I had no idea whether or not I was actually profiting.

Fortunately, I discovered Fetcher.

Fetcher is a app that integrates directly into your Amazon seller account that helps you track your profits. You can easily input the costs of each of your products, too, something that you can’t do with Amazon seller central.

Plus, Fetcher comes with a few more goodies:

  • Product breakdown on a per ASIN basis
  • Pay Per Click cost and sales analysis
  • Product promotion tracking and real costs
  • Amazon fees – storage, FBA and everything else
  • Refund tracking with comparisons and costs
  • Costs of Goods Sold tracking and calculations
  • Inventory dashboard
  • Professional Profit and Loss Statement
  • Daily sales and profit email

So what does Fetcher cost?

Since I’ve been using Fetcher, I’ve found myself making 38% more profits than I used to. It’s far easier to know whether or not a book is worth listing if you’re tracking your cost-of-goods. Plus, the easy-to use interface makes it my go-to option over Seller Central (which I hardly check anymore).

One could easily price an app like this at $97 per month.

Or even half that.

Fetcher is only $29 $19 per month to get started.

Fetcher‘s people are so confident in its abilities to accurately track your Amazon profits, they’ll even let you try it FREE for 31-days.

 

how to sell books on Amazon

Step 5. List your inventory on Amazon.

Next, you’ll need to list your inventory on Amazon. There’s ways to automatically scan your inventory in, but if you’re like me, I used to do each and every book by hand typing in the ISBN into Amazon’s search bar and clicking “I have one to sell.” That way I could check the condition, too.

Because once you’ve found your book’s listing, you’ll need to place it under the correct condition.

There are, more or less, 5 conditions which you can list books on Amazon:

New

Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included. Original protective wrapping, if any, is intact. Original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments.

Used – Like New

An apparently untouched item in perfect condition. Original protective wrapping may be missing, but the original packaging is intact and pristine. There are absolutely no signs of wear on the item or its packaging. Instructions are included. Item is suitable for presenting as a gift.

(Note: the difference between Like New and New is often so negligible, you might as well just list the book as New for the higher price point (and Buy Box).

Used – Very Good

A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly.

(Note: if the book looks used and it has absolutely no writing in it–I repeat, IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO WRITING IN IT–then I list it as Very Good. But if you try to list a book with writing in it or a missing dust jacket, you’ll get called out by the book nerds and get bad seller feedback.)

Used – Good

Use only if noted in the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. It may be marked, have identifying markings on it, or show other signs of previous use.

(Note: Usually, this is as low as I’ll go with a book in terms of quality.)

Used – Acceptable

Use only if noted in the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. The item may have identifying markings on it or show other signs of previous use.

(Note: this is for books that are BEAT TO HELL. I only ever sell this condition if I somehow got the book for cheap and it’s worth a ton and has a super low BSR. Many book buyers on Amazon–myself included–will totally avoid this condition.)

Make sure you know your book conditions up-down-left-right. People who buy a lot of used books, myself included, are very sensitive about conditions. If I buy a book that’s Very Good condition and see that it has writing in it, I’m going to contact you. And 9 times out of 10, you’re probably going to just refund the full amount to avoid getting bad seller feedback (plus it’s often more costly to accept a return than to refund it).

How to Sell Books on Amazon Tip #8

Different conditions come with different price points. Often, the lowest Very Good price will be a lot higher than the lowest Good or Acceptable condition. However, if it’s a slow seller (BSR 250,000 or higher), then you might consider just pricing it to match the Good or Acceptable condition.

 

how to sell books on Amazon

Step 6. Ship the books to the nearest fulfillment center.

If you’re selling books FBA (I recommend that you do), you’ll need to send them to the nearest fulfillment center (or centers). It’s pretty easy to do. Just throw them in a box (I like Home Depot’s Small Moving Boxes because they’re pretty cheap), and ship via one of Amazon’s preferred carriers. Don’t forget to mark the shipping costs in your Fetcher back screen!

 

how to sell books on Amazon

Step 7. Watch as sales come in and track profits on Fetcher.

Once your books hit the fulfillment centers and so long as you priced them right and only picked books with low BSRs, you should start seeing sales right away. To see how much you’re profiting, be sure to log in to Fetcher and check your daily stats.

How to Sell Books on Amazon Tip #9

When you’re just starting out, try not to take too much money out of your funds. Save the money that you’re making to purchase new inventory. The more you can grow your business, the easier it is for you to push into even more profitable Amazon selling methods such as private label and wholesaling.

 

how to sell books on Amazon

Step 8. Provide good customer service.

Fortunately, selling used books you won’t have to worry too much about product reviews (since you didn’t write the book). All you have to do is make sure that your customers are happy.

A great way to keep up with your customers is through using an automated email service like Jump Send that will follow up with them and see if everything went okay with your order.

It’s pretty rare that you’ll get bad seller feedback from a book buyer, and if you did, it’s often because you listed a book improperly (I repeat: do not list books in the wrong condition… it’ll kill your seller feedback rating!)

 

Conclusion

Hopefully, this guide has taught you the basics of how to sell books on Amazon. I sold books on Amazon for about nine months before I switched over to private label full time. But every now and then, I still like to find a few books to list using my old online arbitrage methods.

After all, when I was making $2000-$3000 per month selling books, I suddenly had enough money to start creating my own brands.

But that’s a story for another time… 😉

 

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65 Comments on “How to Sell Books on Amazon: Tips & Secrets From a 3-Year Bookseller”

  1. Great piece! Thanks for sharing.

    Question. How many hours per week were you putting in when you were making (profit?) $2-3k month?

    Thank again!

    1. Hey Ben,

      When I was doing FBM, I was spending about 3-4 hours per night. Once I switch to FBA that went down to 3-4 hours per week, most of which was spending time finding deals on wholesale books and listing the books on Amazon. I was working full time for most of that time, so I could only do so much with the book selling, but still made about $1000/month profit doing it as a side hustle. When I switched to OA, it got a lot easier, as I just created a list of “hot finds” and would look around for deals on those. It’s surprising how bad people are at pricing things on Ebay–of course, that’s a double edged sword, as they’re also terrible at getting the conditions right, so I end up spending a lot of time arguing over books with writing inside, stains, smells-like-smoke, etc.

      The trouble I had with books was that it’s not scalable. Once you hit a certain point, inventory gets harder and harder to find. That’s why I switched to private label. But book selling, OA, and RA are awesome bridges to getting into bookselling.

  2. How do you start a brand selling used books? Is it just similar to a store front name?
    And I suppose there is money to be saved by not doing ppc?

    James

    1. Hello James,

      It’s less of “starting a brand per se” as it is just wholesaling/arbitrage sharing every other listing, so the method is quite different from private label. And yes, unless you’ve got the buy box for a product, you can’t do PPC.

  3. If you choose the right book, does that mean you might get a 5 star review on the book. I see you eg has 1000 + reviews
    And what is the app that gives the bsr of books on Amazon.com

    1. Hey Jim,

      The book reviews won’t affect your seller account as seller feedback and product reviews are two different things.

      You can check BSRs directly on Amazon. In fact, Amazon’s mobile app has a built in scanner, too. You can also use Jungle Scout’s Chrome Extension to automatically pull up the BSR information, too.

  4. Sometimes it seems like the Amazon FBA margins are very slim with books. Is it just quantity that drives sales for books on Amazon?

    1. Jay,

      It’s more about just finding the right books, because you’re right… the margins can be very slim! Quantity surely helps, but it’s quality more than anything, which is why I recommend OA over the other formats which rely more on volume.

  5. Interesting read! I’ve been looking at FBA but for private label, hadn’t considered physical books. I’ve been on the other side of Amazon selling for years, digital books, being one of the longest online independent e-publishers around, but in recent years there has been a big change in how Amazon handles that side. My question for physical books is, you say you just put them in a box and ship to a fulfillment center. Does a listing need to be included in the box with title and ISBN or something for identifier for the fulfillment center? Wondering the prep involved. Books are heavy also, does shipping costs of boxes of books become high?
    Again, though, great read and good info!

    1. Hey Linda,

      When you’re going through the process, Amazon’s back end will give you a sheet of labels that you can print and stick on the books. If you’ve ordered a physical book from Amazon before, you’ve probably seen it.

      Amazon labels.

      And when you’re shipping to an Amazon FC, you get to use Amazon’s negotiated rates, which are roughly $7-$10 for 50lbs. A typical “small book box” (like you can buy at Home Depot) usually can hold 30-40 regular sized hardbacks, so your total cost to ship to an FC is roughly $0.25-$0.30 per book.

  6. Good read. I’ll give it a try just for fun. One question though. How can Amazon accept a box where “I just throw in the books” without labeling each since one box would contain 40-50 different books. How do they stock them without a label on each book? They sent me an email today asking to put a label on each product, which seems like a lot of work.

    1. Hey Manuel,

      It can be tedious, yes. However, you can get Amazon to label them for you (I believe it’s an option under “prep for Amazon”), but there’s a higher cost. And since books tend to have some of the highest fees around–all media items have a base $1.80 plus 15% of the sales price, now)–adding more to it can hurt your bottom line.

    1. Manuel,

      They automatically pop up when you’re preparing goods for FBA. I believe it’s on the screen that says “prep for FBA” there’s a button that says print labels. The label size is 1 in x 2 5/8 in address labels which you can buy at most office goods stores.

      1. Thanks, Dave for your replies. Do you wrap the books with cardboard cover before putting the label on them, or do you stick the labels right on the books and throw them into a box?

        1. Hey Manuel,

          I do a lot of my stuff FBM these days, so I don’t do labels as much. If I do textbook “zen arbitrage” where I’m flipping books bought FBM to FBA, I just stick it on directly. Only on collectibles do I get sensitive about the sticker placement.

          When I do FBM, if it’s something that can’t be folded, I’ll place two cardboard backers on either side (kinda like the type you’d use for comic books) and put into a padded envelope. I’ll then write “DO NO BEND” all over it.

          1. Thanks. I am finishing my first fba shipment today – thanks to your blog post. Let’s see if this works in Europe as well.

  7. If i have one of each book and say 10 books total, shipping FBA, do I put them all loosely in one box? Or each book has to have its own box. If you have one-offs, do you recommend fba or fbm?

  8. Great information but I am still a little confused. Can I purchase 40 different used books using the criteria you listed and shop them to be FBA in one box? I am just getting started and had 15 of the same new item to send off. FBA prompted me to send in 3 different shipments.

    1. Amy,

      It depends on where Amazon needs those books to go. Sometimes, there’s demand for certain books in different parts of the country, so they’ll ask you send them to another spot. I do know that they try to do their best to keep it all as close to you as possible.

    2. You can select what Amazon calls ‘Inventory Placement Service’ which means all your books will go to one warehouse. They’ll charge you a fee of .30 or so per book, but the hassle you save, not to mention not having the extra cost of sending separate shipments, is worth it in my opinion.

  9. which scanner app do you use or recommend? how did you come up with that list of text books? that sounds like an interesting idea. i am selling books on Amazon now and have almost 2000 in my garage. with the fee increase plus 15% plus packing materials I will not get rich. However, the thought of labeling and mailing that many books to Amazon is daunting. do you make that many more sales going prime to justify the cost?

    1. Hey Christine,
      Supposedly, selling prime gives you a pretty big bump in conversions since people will get the books sooner. The textbook method, also called Zen Arbitrage by some, is pretty good since a lot of students want textbooks fast and are willing to pay the difference. Lately, I’ve been doing OA with a niche market, buying wholesale lots on Ebay and flipping them on Amazon (although I’ve been doing those from home).

  10. Thank you for the helpful tips. My husband passed away last year and he was an avid reader. I have a few hundred books to sell with a mixture of paperback and hardback. They are in great condition except he always threw away the dust covers as he hated them. He mostly read sci fi, alternate history, and military related titles. Do you think that selling them on Amazon and using the FBA method would be my best bet?

  11. Read this page the other day and got inspired!

    Well it looks like plenty of people are responding to this, not sure if these guys have been doing this all along or not but, I found tons of treasures in Goodwill stores over the years, but not books. Now that Goodwill stopped putting treasures on the shelves and instead they list the stuff, I decided to slow down visiting them. Just looks like junkwill in there now. But after reading this page I went into Goodwill today to scan some books and there was this guy all over the books with a scanner and a cart just scanning– bam bam one after the other as fast as he could.

    I felt like saying: Hey, do you mind if someone else sees those books too. But of course he was in a frenzy and didn’t even notice me standing there. Discouraged from this new idea I just learned about, I went ahead on to the one on the other side of town. When I stepped in the door I went over to the books shelves and there was another guy with a cart and a scanner connected to his phone just scanning the books one by one in a speed method, occasionally throwing one here and there into the cart. It was enough for me, I’ll stick to other methods and products.

    This just seems not right that the book area which is usually no traffic hardly at all now suddenly has these book attackers scanning away. It really makes the other store customers just stay away until they leave. Can’t help to wonder if it is even ethical in a first come first serve environment like that, I mean this just started lately. I mean I felt like I had better not even dare to grab and check out a book that was within this guys two arms reach on this public shelf… it is intimidating to other potential book shoppers…Just walked away!

  12. Hi Dave.
    Thanks, great article. If sourcing in Australia to do FBA in the USA, It would cost a fortune in postage fees. Do you have a suggestion of how one might set up from outside the USA.

    Also just double checking on a couple of comments and answers: so sending a box of various books into amazon somehow works? how do they know what’s what in the box for sending on to buyers?

    1. Hey Vivienne,

      Good question. Obviously, you now have the Australian Amazon, so you’d be one of the first book sellers on there. As far as sending them to Amazon US, you’re right, the postage would be prohibitively high. So if you’re going to do books, I recommend jumping on the AU Amazon.

      When you create your fulfillment order, Amazon gives you a label sheet that you print out and stick to each of your items. They then split up the book orders and send them to the various fulfillment centers depending on supply/demand.

  13. Hi Dave,
    What a great article. There’s more info here than I have found anywhere else.
    I have a small publishing company and I’m about to produce a few books. I don’t intend to sell a ton of them, but I also don’t want to spend my time at the post office and boxing books. Does your method work for self-publishers of hard copy books as well? And if so, does everything above apply?
    Thanks!
    JB

    1. Hey JB,

      My recommendation for self-publishing is using KDP for your digital and Amazon’s CreateSpace for physical. While the fees can be quite heavy, it’s a whole lot easier to get a start on things without spending a bunch on printed copies of books.

      If you DO go getting your own books printed, you could try it, but with the super competitive nature of self-publishing, you could end up spending more than necessary before you test the market.

      A number of successful authors start this way now.

      Of course, self-publishing is a whooooole other Amazon selling method! 🙂

  14. Hello-Great article and tips. I want to buy and sell books on Amazon full time. However, I am quite discouraged about a lot of places not wanting us to use our scanners in their stores. Also, I have heard the Amazon seller fees have become so much that it’s hard to make a profit. Is this true? Can you please expound on this? I would greatly appreciate it!

    1. Hey Elizabeth,

      Yeah, some places definitely aren’t crazy about scanners. Personally, I never did it with the scanner method. As far as the fees go, I recommend looking for stuff that can cover your fees which are 15% of the price, roughly $3-4 for FBA, and $1.80 for media. Textbooks and niche books like comic books and stuff like that are pretty good for getting past the fees.

  15. Dave,
    I am about to retire, and I have about 6 thousand books in my personal library. Many of these are professional books: religious topics, Bible commentaries, and so on. I had thought to sell a lot of these on Amazon, but I really can’t understand how people can make a profit for those book that are listed at one cent, or four or five dollars. As I have looked up some of my books, I find that some of them might go for 10=15 dollars, so that might be worth it. But I figured I would do the fulfillment myself. What I have are books likely to be found by people looking for that specific title or topic. I have bought many books through Amazon for a penny, with the $3.99 shipping added. Is that enough to turn a profit?

    1. Hi Reverend!

      Good questions! And WOW that’s even more books than I have! Well done!

      I actually had a lot of luck selling Christian non-fiction when I started. I purchased an estate of a pastor’s books. He had some pretty cool books, including a few first editions of MLK’s books.

      Basically, the fee structure for selling books on Amazon is like so:

      1) First, you have the referral fee, which is 15% of the sales price. So if you sell for $15, that’ll be $2.25.
      2) If you sell via FBA, you’ll have the FBA fee, which is more or less shipping/handling on Amazon’s part. This usually starts at about $3.02 for the first pound and goes up about $0.75 for each pound after (you can use Amazon’s FBA calculator to predict this cost in advance). If you do FBM, then they’ll tack on an additional $3.99 for shipping, which USUALLY covers most media mail shipping costs for books unless it’s a particular heavy book.
      3) Finally, Amazon has a media fee, which is a flat $1.80 per book. They’ve only added this fee within recent years to discourage low, low priced books on Amazon, and people using their fulfillment centers as “storage” centers for old, slow-selling books.

      So your total fees on a FBM $15 book + $3.99 shipping that can be shipped via media mail is going to be roughly $4.05 plus the cost to ship (media mail costs typically around $2.80 for the first pound another $1.00 for each pound after that, so we’ll just say that it more or less uses up the whole $3.99). That leaves you with $10.95 for the sale.

      With such a large collection, you might want to invest in a scanner to quickly run through the books, unless, of course, they’re all pre-ISBN, in which case you’ll need to enter them by hand.

  16. Hi Dave, Thanks for the article through Jungle Scout. Also for the replies you have provided to the comments. Could you please share your knowledge on selling new books? where and how can I source new books, is it profitable if I can source them?
    Thank you.

    1. Hey Shibu,

      I haven’t done new books before, but it’s not too hard. You’d have to contact book suppliers directly. In fact, some publishing houses even allow you to drop ship directly from them.

      Do note that when you sell new books, you have to compete directly with Amazon if you’re going to sell on Amazon. So often, it’s better to go after used books of value that Amazon can’t get ahold of easily.

  17. Hi Dave, Thanks for the comprehensive review.

    1. How/where can I find the BSR for a title? I haven’t yet set up an Amazon seller account.

    2. Is there a list of Amazon warehouses cities where the books will be stored?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hey Robyn,

      BSRs are on the page, just below the product description and above the reviews.

      Typically, Amazon will send the books to whichever warehouses have the highest demand. When I send books to Amazon, they typically go to the DFW FC. Then, Amazon will split them up and send them to different locations around the country.

  18. Hi
    What a great blog/ read. I enjoyed it immensely. I have about 200-300 of my own books, mostly teenager books and study books , gcse/ A level. I am conscious of time tbh I dont have any and I would love to try and make some money from these.
    From what I have understood from looking through Amazon and looking at BSR for the first time ( thanks 2 U) i ca see most of these books are between 300,000 and 10,000 BSR. I suppose they are all worth a sell but on average they sell for about £3. What can you suggest , looking at time limitations/ and end sale? Please advice the best way forwards, UK based thanks mate.

    1. Hey Ahsan!

      Well, those BSRs sound pretty good, at least for the US market. However, at 3 GBP you may see fees eating up a lot of your profit margins. I recommend sorting through and finding those where you can at least make a little profit. You might even consider starting slow and doing them via fulfilled-by-merchant where you mail the books.

  19. Amazing!! This is exactly what I was looking for today. I scored 108 books this morning and decided to try and sell them on line. So glad I found this, thanks for posting!!

    Brian

  20. Dave,

    Thanks for this great article! I do have a question for you. Like Kathy and Rev. Kathleen above, I am planning to sell my personal library of ~ 400 books of various genres and once they are gone, I will be done (at least that is the plan).

    Two questions:

    1) In this case, would it be best to sign up with a professional or personal account since I don’t know how long it will take to sell all of them.

    2) Can I still use the FBA option for this project?

    Many thanks!

    1. Hey Cathy!

      Great to hear you getting started! And wow! 400 books, that’s awesome!

      1) The extra $1 for individual accounts can cut into your margins pretty quick. So you might consider doing pro if you think you’re going to be selling at least 40 books per month. In my experience, non-fiction with BSRs below 1,000,000 usually sell within 30 days on Amazon. So make sure you’ve got plenty of inventory that falls under that.

      2) Yeah, for sure! Keep in mind, there’s always storage fees you’ll have to contend with, in addition to Amazon’s referral fee, the media fee (a new fee Amazon added last year), and FBA fees. I’ve toned down my book sales over the last couple years, and what few I do I do FBM.

  21. I would like to know if I can just only Scan all my old books and post it in AMazon to sell.. is it possible? thanks

    1. Hi Zhinoos,

      Yeah! Just make sure they have some value to them. Amazon takes 15% of the price for the referral fee and then a $1.80 media fee. So you want to try to sell books that are at least $15-$20 in value.

  22. Hi.

    Greetings from India !! Great Article. Something which I searched a lot on internet. I made a listing on Amazon Local Finds here in India for selling my used books. In a week’s time, 9 books were sold. I made a loss though as my purchase price was higher (all were new). I wanted to know following –

    1. Here in India we get customers which are near to our location. Like if I am seller from west India I get customers from west India only as it is a local finds account. I wanted to know your customer region. Have you made an amazon seller account? If yes then how do you take care of local taxes on the transaction? In India we have GST.

    2. In India we are charged almost INR 40 (Roughly half dollar) after book is sold . And we cannot sell beyond a certain price recommended by Amazon local finds .

    3. Here if there are issues like violation then seller account is taken down . Like if Pearson or Jacob Publishing is selling books and they dont want others to sell at lower prices they can tell amazon to take our seller account down. Can you guide me if you have faced such issues?

    Thank you

  23. So what phone ap do you use to scan the books? Do you have to sign up with Amazon first to access their scanner?

    1. Hey Julia,

      I never used a phone app (I bought in bulk and typed in the ISBNs manually), but I know some folks use Profit Panda which I THINK costs roughly $7.99 or something like that. You can also use the Amazon retail app or seller app. Both have camera scanners built in.

  24. In 2000, I inherited about 200 books from my mother, who was a city librarian for 37 years and who salvaged these books when the library culled its collection to make room for new books. These books are up to 150 years old and were selected by her for their literary value. Many of them have signatures on the inner cover. Many are in excellent condition. Others are in poor shape. We want to get rid of the books and want to use Amazon FBA. Some of these books may be valuable because of their content and the historical era in which they were published.
    Your article has been a great help, but I don’t understand how to initiate the process. We are recording titles, authors, and copyright dates and will type these into my computer. How do I initiate the process of Amazon FBA?

    1. Hi Dr Bob,

      It depends. Older books tend not too do so well on Amazon, in my experience. But if they’re of super high value (ie, a first print of Dickens, etc), you might consider bringing on a book antiquarian to get your maximum value.

      Books written before the 1970s don’t have ISBNs, so it can be difficult to enter them into a catalog like Amazon, since you’ll have to physically search for each book one by one by title. And even then, there can be 2-3 variations of the book.

      So, long story short: I recommend taking a look at your collection and finding the books that probably have the greatest value first. If there’s a lot of first edition/first prints, those might do better on eBay or Abe. But if it’s a lot of mass produced titles, then Amazon’s probably your go-to.

  25. Sorry. I sent a previous comment yesterday. If you didn’t receive it , I’ll be happy to rewrite it. I just want to consent to your saving my name, email, etc.

  26. Thanks Dave. I am now less anxious of selling on Amazon. I have a cool collection of old and rare books I need to liquidate. I have been listing on Ebay without much luck. It is worth giving Amazon a shot. I needed to know about the fee structure and the condition guidelines and you did it for me. Many thanks!

    1. Hey Shari,

      Yeah. The fees for media are like so:

      15% referral fee based on the sales price
      $1.80 media fee

      If you sell via FBA, you’ll pay the FBA fee, too, which is basically shipping. This is usually about $2.99 for books under 1 lb and increases with each pound.

      If you sell via FBM, then you’ll get shipping on top of your sales price, usually $3.99. I find that shipping books via media mail usually only costs $2.72 for the first pound, plus a dollar for every pound after that.

      Finally, if you’re selling on the individual plan, there’s a $1.00 flat fee. If you’re selling on the pro plan, then it’s $39.95/month and no flat fee.

      Hope that’s helpful.

  27. Hi Dave,

    Great blog, excellentinformation! Thanks for sharing.

    I have at least 300 children books, at least 100 of those are in Spanish, plus at least 200 more books of varies different genres. Most of them are about personal development, religious and spiritual growth, teaching techniques and financial advise.

    I’ve never sold anything online before but I’m considering selling some of these books to make room for more. Should I start with the children books? Most of my books are in great condition.

    Before hand, thanks so much for taking the time to respond!

    1. Hi Reina,

      Sure! Just be sure to check their value before listing them. You generally want to try to sell books that have a value of at least $10 before shipping to cover the Amazon fees.

  28. Hi Dave,

    I am in the process of self-publishing an illustrated children’s book, which I intend to sell through my web shop and also via Amazon. What would be the best Amazon program to start with, since I want to focus on the US market, and also on the English speaking market in Europe? Would you recommend starting with the Pro account and use Linked Accounts for the North America & EU market places? If I sent my inventory to a fulfilment centre in Europe, under what conditions could the books be sold/sent to the USA? I am unable to find these answers, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time to respond!

    1. Hey Andrea,

      Congrats on self-publishing! The method you’re doing sounds a little closer to private label than book selling. Private label is something Jungle Scout specializes in.

      Do the pro account if you plan on selling at least 40 copies per month. From what I understand of the EU market, it’s separate from the US. So US people can order it, but it’s probably better off if you send inventory to US and EU.

      Since what you’re doing is similar to private label, I suggest reading up a bit more on it: https://www.junglescout.com/how-to-sell-on-amazon-fba

      Basically, you’ve already done part 1 and 2, research and sourcing. Now it’s just a matter of launching and promoting.

      Good luck and let me know if you have any further questions!

  29. Thank you, Dave! If I use FBA, do you know whether I have to individually pack each book prior to shipping my inventory to Amazon’s storage facility, or can I just send the books the way I would receive them from the book printer? Meaning, on a pallet, where books are grouped into packages of 5 and shrinkwrapped?

  30. Hello Dave,
    Great article by the way. Thank You!!

    I signed up to sell on Amazon on the individual plan. When I went to go sell my first college textbook under the heading “List A New Product”. It pulls up my book with all the current listings already on Amazon. I do not get a box that says “Sell Yours”. Instead it comes up and says Listing Limitations Apply. It also says this :

    “You are not approved to list this brand and we are currently not accepting applications.
    New; Used: Like new conditions You are not approved to list this brand and we are currently not accepting applications.
    Refurbished condition You are not approved to list this product and we are not accepting applications at this time.”

    I don’t understand why. We should not need approval to sell textbooks should we?? I don’t books listed in their approval sections..

    Cannot new sellers sell books or these college textbooks anymore??
    Thank You…..

    1. Hey Larry,

      It depends on the brand. Amazon’s had a lot of fraudulent sellers in the last few years try to sell their books online (usually foreign “teacher’s edition” copies).

      What’s the ASIN for the book? I’ll look it up for you.

  31. Great article. I’ve scanned all of my books at home and found that the vast majority of them have a high BSR. What should I do with those books? Should I sell them to a used book store or hold on to them and ship them FBM to avoid FBA storage fees? Also, how sustainable is it to sell used books? Can you find enough book deals to make a decent income?

    Thanks.

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