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by Travis F.posted on 14.01.2021

How to Sell Books on Amazon Explained 2021

You can sell virtually anything on Amazon, but it wasn’t always that way. The company got its start as an online book store before growing into the retail giant we know today.

While Amazon has expanded its reach to include many other product categories, books are still a major focus for them. The company sells billions of dollars in books every year, which is why many sellers decide to build their business around them.

Reselling books on Amazon FBA is a great way to make some money and get started on the platform. In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this business model so you can reach your selling goals and build a successful business.

Want to learn how to sell books on Amazon? Keep reading to find out.

Is Selling Books on Amazon Profitable?

Before we get started, you’re probably wondering whether you can actually make money selling books. The answer is a resounding yes.

The internet is filled with stories with people selling books on the side for extra cash, or even turning it into a full-time career. This is because the profit margins can be really good. It’s possible to buy a book for a few dollars and sell it for ten times that amount or more.

Now, that doesn’t mean every book is profitable. Like any product you plan to sell, you’ll need to do your research in order to find the books that have the highest demand. But if you follow the tips and strategies in this guide you can definitely build a business selling books.

And if you’re going to sell books anywhere, Amazon is the place to do it. The company has over 50% of the print book market and three-quarters of the ebook market, with more and more people signing up for Prime memberships every day. It’s clear that in this day and age when most people want books they turn to Amazon.

How Much Does it Cost?

One of the best things about this type of business is that it doesn’t have to cost a whole lot. If you don’t have a big budget you can start with just a few books, which can cost as little as a dollar or two apiece.

Or if you have some more money to spend you can purchase a larger number of books to start. It’s really up to you.

The only other cost to consider is your Amazon account fee. If you opt for a Professional Seller account you’ll pay $39.99 a month, but that’s not much when compared to a lot of other businesses.

How to Get Started

Becoming a successful bookseller doesn’t happen overnight. You need to have a plan in place in order to succeed.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get started:

  1. Decide what type of books you’re going to sell.

  2. Find one or more ways to consistently source profitable books.

  3. Register as an Amazon seller.

  4. List your books on Amazon.

  5. Decide how you’re going to fulfill your orders (Amazon FBA or FBM).

Don’t worry, we’ll go over all this and more. But it’s good to have these steps in mind as you read through everything so you can start to develop your business plan.

New vs Used Books

The first question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether you’re going to sell new or second-hand books. Here’s what you need to know:

  • New Books: These will have higher demand since most people prefer to buy books new. However, acquiring brand new books can be difficult. You’ll need to purchase from wholesalers, distributors, and publishers, which requires you to buy in large quantities.

  • Used Books: Most independent sellers choose to sell used books, simply because they’re so easy to acquire. You can find them in many places online and in your local area. While they’re not as in demand as new books, if you find some good deals you can still make a lot of money selling used copies.

For the majority of sellers, selling used books will be a lot easier. Also, you’ll face a lot less competition since Amazon sells most new books that come out. That being said, if you have the financial resources then it may be worth it trying to sell new books since your sales margins will usually be higher.

Where Can You Find Books to Sell on Amazon? 

At this point, you probably have a good idea about what books you want to sell. The next step is to figure out where you’re going to acquire your books. Luckily there are a lot of options.

The Best Places to Buy New Books

If you want to sell new books then you really only have three sourcing options:

  • Wholesalers: These businesses buy books from publishers in large quantities for the purpose of selling them to resellers.

    Buy New Books on wholesalers websites to sell on Amazon

  • Distributors: Distributors help publishers get their books sold. You may be able to purchase books from distributors but their prices are usually higher than wholesalers.

  • Publishers: Some publishers may be willing to sell their books directly to you, but they only sell in extremely high quantities.

With each of these options you’re going to have to buy in bulk, so you’ll need a large budget. On the plus side, because you’re buying a lot of books at once your per book cost will be low which will lead to a better return on every sale.

The Best Places to Buy Used Books

If you don’t have enough capital to buy new books don’t worry. There are plenty of places to buy used books that can be resold on Amazon for a profit:

  • Book Store Sales: Check your local book stores regularly for sales. They may be trying to unload inventory which will allow you to get valuable books for cheap. You can also use the Book Sale Finder to find sales across the US.

  • Thrift Stores: These places often sell a number of books for cheap. They don’t always do their research, meaning many of their books are underpriced.

  • Library Sales: Every now and then libraries will sell some of their books. This is a great opportunity to find some hidden gems.

  • Yard Sales: Lots of people sell books in yard sales and don’t take the time to look up how much they’re really worth. If you’re willing to shop around you can find some amazing deals here.

  • Estate Sales: These are meant to get rid of goods as quickly as possible. If there are any books available they may end up going far below market value. You can find upcoming estate sales at EstateSales.net.

  • Other Online Marketplaces: Look on sites like Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace for good deals.

    where to buy used books to sell on amazon craiglist

Here’s one more tip: let people know that you’re looking to buy books. You can create a website or post on message boards to spread the word. That way, you might have people coming to you with their books instead of always having to look for them yourself.

How Do You Sell Books on Amazon?

Once you’ve used one of the sourcing methods above to acquire some books you’ll need to actually get them listed on Amazon.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of how to set up your account and create your listings:

1. Register Your Account

If you’re not already an Amazon seller then the first thing you’ll need to do is create an account. Click here to get started

  • To open a Professional Seller account, click any of the “Sign Up” buttons on the page. This account type is $39.99 a month. However, you won’t pay Amazon any additional fees when you sell a book.

  • To open an Individual Seller account, scroll down and click "Sign up to become an individual seller." This account is free but you’ll pay Amazon $0.99 every time you sell a book.

Amazon seller accounts plans

If you’re trying to decide which account is right for you, estimate how many books you’ll sell per month. If you think you’ll sell less than 40, go with the Individual account. If you think you’ll sell more than 40, the Professional account will actually end up being cheaper.

Follow the instructions after clicking one of the links to open your account. Just a heads up, you’ll need to provide them with a valid credit card, phone number, and your tax information. So, make sure to have that ready before getting started.

2. Create Your Book Listings

Once your account is ready it’s time to create your listings:

  1. Log in to your Amazon Seller Central account.

  2. Click “Catalog” in the top left corner of the screen and select “Add Product.”

  3. Enter your book’s ISBN number into the search field. This is an identifying number (similar to a UPC code) that every book has. It’s usually found on the back cover next to the bar code, or the copyright page. 

    create a book listing on amazon

In most cases, your book will already be listed on Amazon. Assuming this is true for your book:

  1. Select the condition you’re selling it in (New, Collectible, or Used).

  2. Click “Sell this product.”

  3. Enter a SKU for your book. This code can be whatever you like. If you don’t enter a SKU Amazon will create one for you.

    Create Your Book Listings on amazon

  4. Enter your price. Keep in mind that you’re competing against other sellers, so don’t price it too high. If you have the lowest price you’ll have a better chance of winning the buy box.

  5. Enter how many copies of the book you’re selling.

  6. Choose your fulfillment method:

    1. Merchant Fulfilled means you’ll store your own inventory and ship orders yourself.

    2. Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) means you’ll ship your books to Amazon and they’ll fulfill your orders for you (we’ll talk more about FBA in the next section).

  7. Click “Save and Finish.”

If your book doesn’t come up in the search results that means it isn’t currently listed on Amazon. Click “Create a new listing” to build your listing. You’ll need to enter the name of the book, the author, quantity, price, and other important info.

3. Monitor Your Sales and Make Adjustments

Once your listings are live, monitor your sales to see which books are selling and which ones aren’t. You may need to adjust your prices if some books aren’t moving. 

Remember, the lower your price is the better chance you have of winning the buy box. This means when someone clicks the buy button your book is the one that’s purchased.

That being said, be aware of your margins and don’t price your books too low. Be sure you’ll still make a profit when the book sells. Some books may take longer to sell than others, but if you’ve done your homework and choose the right books to sell they should move eventually.

How to Use FBA to Fulfil Your Orders

Two of the biggest hassles for Amazon sellers are storing inventory and shipping orders. Not everyone has the space to store hundreds of books, and packing and shipping books to customers are extremely time-consuming.

That’s why most sellers use the FBA program. With this strategy, you simply ship all your books to Amazon and they’ll take care of everything for you. Your inventory will be stored in their warehouses and when a customer buys one of your books they’ll pick, pack, and ship it.

There are some additional fees that go along with this, but given how much time it will save you it’s more than worth it. This is why we recommend FBA for the majority of sellers.

If you’re planning on fulfilling your book orders this way here’s how to do it:

Preparing Your Books for FBA

After you select FBA as your fulfillment method you’ll need to prepare your book to be shipped to Amazon. This involves creating your shipment in Amazon, packing your books, and labeling your packages.

Creating Your Shipment

  1. Log in to your Amazon Seller Central account.

  2. Click on “Inventory” and select “Manage Inventory.”

  3. Open the “Edit” drop-down menu and select “Send/Replenish Inventory.”

    Amazon Send/Replenish Inventory sell books

  4. Enter your “Ship from address.”

  5. Choose “Individual products” if you’re sending different books with different ISBNs, or “Case-packed products” if you’re sending multiple versions of the same book.

  6. Enter how many copies of each book you’re sending.

  7. This step requires you to specify whether your product needs any special preparation. Books do not have any guidelines, so select “No Prep Needed.”

Labeling And Calculating Your Costs

  1. The next step asks you to label your products. Your books will already have a manufacturer barcode, so click “Continue.”

  2. Amazon will tell you where to send your books.

  3. Choose your shipping service. UPS is Amazon’s partnered carrier, but you have the option of choosing another carrier if you like.

  4. Enter your package dimensions and weight.

  5. Click “Calculate” to see your shipping cost.

  6. After you review everything, accept the charges and print your shipping labels.

Once you have your labels place them on your box or boxes and you’re ready to ship.

Arrange for Your Delivery

Drop your boxes off with your carrier, or arrange for a pick up at your home. Since your labels are already printed they should have everything they need to deliver your books to the correct Amazon warehouse.

It generally takes 1 - 2 weeks for packages to arrive at Amazon, then another three days for your books to be entered into their inventory. You’ll be notified once your books have arrived and are ready to be sold.

Tips and Secrets

We’ve outlined the basic steps you need to take to start selling books on Amazon, but here are a few more advanced tips to help you get an edge on the competition:

Use Research Tools to Identify Profitable Books

In order to be successful, you need data to back up your decisions. This includes a book’s best seller ranking, it’s average monthly sales, and price trends. The more information you have the easier it will be to predict how many sales a book will generate for you.

This is where a tool like AMZScout’s Pro Extension is useful. After installing it, look up a book on Amazon and then open the extension to see average monthly sales, sales price, ranking, and more. This will allow you to see what the demand is like for the book and help you decide if it’s worth selling.

Online arbitrage sales history  gif

You can also use the FBA Fees Calculator to estimate your costs and determine your sales margins. Find the book you want to sell on Amazon, then open the extension. Enter your costs (the price to purchase the book and shipping charges) to calculate your FBA fees and your sales margins. 

Use these tools to choose profitable books that you know will make you money.

Scan Books to Find Their Resale Price

When you’re shopping for books in person you’ll likely want a way to quickly see whether a book might be worth selling. Luckily, there’s an easy solution.

Simply scan a book with your phone using either the Amazon Seller App or the Scoutify App. By scanning the bar code or ISBN number you’ll instantly find out how many sales that book has on Amazon.

amazon seller app to scan books

What is the Best Selling Genre and Category?

All books aren’t created equal. Some genres and categories sell better than others, so it’s good to know what’s popular so you’re not stuck with books that no one wants.

The highest selling categories on Amazon are:

  1. Memoirs and Biographies

  2. Self Help

  3. Religion and Spirituality

  4. Health, Fitness, and Dieting

  5. Politics and Social Sciences

Unless you plan on purchasing brand new books from suppliers you’ll likely want to focus on non-fiction. Novels tend to lose their value after a short amount of time, meaning there isn’t a great used market for them.

Sell Textbooks

If you ask most Amazon sellers what the best kinds of books to sell are, they’ll almost universally say textbooks. There are a few different reasons for this:

  • They’re in high demand, especially at the start of school semesters.

  • They sell for higher prices, which means better profit margins.

  • Since students generally only need them for one semester they’re often easy to find. Most college students will sell back or trade-in their books after they’re done with them, so if you pay attention finding good deals isn’t difficult.

Keep your eyes out for textbooks and definitely add these to your inventory if possible.

Sell Rare and Collectible Books

Another effective strategy is to try and find books that are rare or collectible. These could be niche books that had smaller print runs, first edition books, old books, or signed books. Many comic books and graphic novels are also considered collectible, making them a good choice to sell as well.

When you’re selling a book that has a limited supply the demand will be higher, allowing you to increase your price. You’ll also face less competition.

Just keep in mind that you may need to go through the ungating process in order to be approved to sell these types of books.

Look for Hardcover Books

Hardcover books sell for higher prices and tend to hold their value better. So, if you have a choice between a paperback version of a book or a hardcover, go with the hardcover.

Write Your Own Books

Are you a creative writer? Well good news, it’s never been easier to write your own books. Self-published books are more popular than ever, and Amazon makes it easy to publish your books on Kindle.

The best part is, you’re in complete control. You don’t need to sell books to Amazon or a publisher. Instead, you sell directly to the customer and can build your business however you like.

Conclusion

Whether you’re an experienced internet entrepreneur or looking to start your first side-hustle, selling books on Amazon is a great choice. The upfront cost is relatively low, depending on how many books you want to start with, and if done right you can definitely make a lot of money. If you follow the steps above you should have a successful online business in no time.

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