Learning how to sell books on Amazon is one of the best ways to start online selling. The reason why I sell books through online shops like Amazon is that it is a great launching pad for an online business without spending something to store for inventory.
Through this, I don’t have to worry too much about any sort of financial risk. Also, if you sell items that do not have private labels, you could accumulate funds for your 1st Amazon launch and for your private label product.
The question now is “how do you sell books on Amazon?” Here are the fundamentals of selling on Amazon and some guides to bloom in the online bookselling niche.
Why selling used books on Amazon is profitable and simple
At first, I did not have much capital. I even felt unwilling to gamble the few hundred bucks I had, so I looked for another option which is my comic book collection – old and covered with dust. The idea was a risk-free opportunity to get started selling used books on Amazon.
I wanted to resell the comics I kept for a long time and also learn the tips and secrets about online selling on Amazon. The whole thing was such a blast having myself as my own boss and without risking my personal savings.
But enough with that. Here are a few of the reasons that’ll convince you to begin selling books on Amazon right away:
1. It’s easier than you think
Before I got started, I had little idea about how Amazon operates. Now, when I know better, I’m certain that over half of the driving the sales on the platform is done by third-party sellers.
In an article done by CNBC, or the Consumer News and Business Channel, last 2018, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, stated in a letter sent to shareholders that the third-party sellers, for the first time, were the ones responsible for over half of the sales on Amazon. He also stated Amazon had amassed one hundred thousand dollars in sales from one hundred forty thousand plus businesses that are selling.
Among the third-party sellers, many are selling used books in Amazon. At the start of the year, the Amazon book sale had fifty-three million and three hundred eighty thousand books!
What does it mean for the future bookseller in you? It only means that lots of people find the next book they wanted on Amazon. With an average American able to read twelve books in a year, with ninety million of them subscribed to Amazon Prime, reselling books on Amazon is definitely a big thing.
As a third-party seller, you have these three options to choose from:
- Fulfilled-by-Merchant (FBM) – In FBM, you the seller will create the listing in Amazon then pack & ship the item afterward. This option is for people who got an already great network.
- Amazon Vendors (AMZ) – In AMZ, you’ll have to directly sell the inventory to Amazon via the vendor central services. It’s for those enterprise sellers that need quick unloading of a lot in inventory.
- Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA) – In FBA, you will have to create the listing on Amazon, but Amazon will be the one to store, pack, and ship the products for a fee. Products of FBA sellers are, as a bonus, eligible for fast and free shipping. This is the most popular option among the new sellers.
I started as an FBM seller back then, but nowadays, many people have immediately become an FBA seller. It’s up to you to make the appropriate choice.
Listing your books on Amazon is easier compared to a listing of other products. When you start to list a book, you will undergo a so-called Master Listing. There, the titles listed are organized according to condition and price. It is way better than making a full-blown listing.
Furthermore, if the seller is the lowest priced listing but the rating is not totally low, he/she can grab the much desired Buy Box. It is the important orange-colored “Add-to-Cart” button where the shoppers click on to buy a product that can be hopefully yours.
2. Amazon is great for selling books, thanks to its Best-Seller-Ranking system (BSR)
If a certain product gets sold, Amazon will assign a BSR for the item. The lower the BSR gets, the more sales a certain product can make.
For example, if the book has a BSR of one, it means the product is the best-selling book. A book that ranked number one can sell multiple copies over one day. On the contrary, if a book has a BSR of two million, it will take sixty days or even more just to sell a single copy. The lower the product’s BSR, the better it can sell.
3. FBA makes selling simpler
Months have gone by, and I am roughly selling ten books a day. I was earning decently, although I could have done better if I had used a particular profit-tracking tool. But the big problem is, packaging and shipping of the books took a lot of my time. Then, I discovered FBA.
To those who haven’t heard about FBA, it is an Amazon program that offers its sellers the following:
- Access to fulfillment centers of Amazon that allows sellers shipping and storing their products with a fee
- Selecting, packing, and shipping of the product of a seller to the customer once a sale is made
- Handling of issues on customer service on seller’s behalf like returns, complaints, and others
- Admittance to the shipping program of Amazon Prime in order for customers to avail of purchases faster
Instead of spending three to four hours of packing books and thirty minutes more waiting at the post office, now all I do is pack the used books and send them straight to Amazon who handles everything else. Also, my books go out PRIME, meaning the conversions can skyrocket.
Selling Books on Amazon: Tips and Secrets
Throughout all my years of selling books on Amazon, I’ve been able to come up with a few effective tips that will help give your bookselling business a head start. They’re as follows:
Aim at earning the Buy Box by setting your product’s price lowest on the listing. Through this, the chances of your product being sold will increase tenfold. I exactly remember the time when I first got my Amazon sale. It was on Thursday, the 23rd of April 2015 at four o’clock PM. The book I sold was titled “The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1”. The moment it got sold, I was notified on my Amazon seller app.
A few hours passed by, another book had been sold. The moment I made my first sales, I devoted my time learning more about how to sell books on Amazon. One of the important things I learned is the value of the Best Seller Ranking System (BSR).
As I already mentioned, the lower the BSR, the better. During the time I was selling books, I rarely had books listed that were having a BSR higher than 200,000
What I did was manually typed all the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) of all of my books into Amazon then have the ISBN cross-referenced the BSR of each book. ISBN is a code given to keep the books organized. If the BSR is lower than 200,000, the book will be listed. If not, the book will be put in the pile of “donation”.
If you don’t have a distribution channel, then FBA can be of good use. It will help in selling your books at a much faster pace, and Amazon will be the one to do most of the work. All you need is to find an inventory.
During the end of a sale, it will be the best moment to buy a large bundle of books. As most people don’t like to deal with books and often sell them pretty cheap, I will be buying more often than two hundred books in one transaction for only about twenty dollars. There will be also occasions in which you can have them for free also.
Kids at college often make mistakes of buying their textbooks at the last possible minute. This alone can make them usually pay more than twenty percent for shipping the book Prime two to three days compared to waiting for more than ten days for a media mail.
Thus, you’re able to buy books which are FBM, ship on media mail, then turn it around by reselling books on Amazon Prime at higher prices. I’ve been keeping a list of about ten to twenty textbooks in which this method can be done. I never imagined that the returns in learning how to sell textbooks on Amazon are better than putting the money in the stock market.
If you don’t have enough capital to start, then you can look around your home for any old books or even unused ones to list. That’s how I started with my old comic books. I am even surprised as I was listing them only to discover such value on some of my old comic book titles were.
The old textbooks (about one or two editions than the current edition available) are very popular with students since they can be bought cheaper and still relevant enough to the syllabus of their course.
It will be ideal to get some professional selling plan on Amazon if you’re confident to sell forty units or more monthly (wherein in the case of books, it will be easy). It got a subscription fee of $39.95 but the additional charge of one dollar of each sale will be avoided.
Books with different conditions obviously don’t have similar price points. Oftentimes, the book with the lowest price point under Very Good condition can be a lot higher than the book with the lowest price point under Good or Acceptable condition.
However, if the book is unlikely to get sold any time soon due to its BSR ranging from two hundred and fifty thousand and up, then a matching price will have to be considered comparable to an item under Good or Acceptable condition.
On your initial attempt, do not invest too much coming from your personal funds. Budget well so that you can make use of the money to buy new items for inventory. As the business grows, it will be easier to seek out more lucrative selling methods in Amazon, like Wholesaling, Private Label, etc.
How to find books for Amazon selling
As someone who had invested in the buy-and-sell book business, I assure you it is far more rewarding than doing it old school canvassing. Sellers use unique techniques for their inventory. The following are the various methods to find good books for Amazon selling:
This is amongst the most common ways of finding books. Basically, people using the scanning method proceed to the sales where books are really cheap (about one dollar) and scan all bar codes with their portable scanners or smartphone apps.
There is another app that cross-references the BSR of the book and also its lowest sales price. It will notify the seller whether the book is worthy of purchasing or not. A scanner typically carries the box, the shopping cart, or plenty of reusable bags for shopping to haul the goods around. The method is closely similar to the Retail Arbitrage.
This is for finding books to be sold. Instead of trying to scan every book in book-sale, I would be making offers for the whole bundle. This way works well on yard sales, estate sales, and even at closings of book stores. By being unselective, this can not only lower the price of each book but can also leave me with unsellable books. For every good purchase, I will be having three books for donations in every single book worth listing. Effectively, the inventory will be at one dollar per item.
3. Online Arbitrage (OA)
This is another method of finding books through buying a certain book or books on a single marketplace (like Craiglist or eBay) and having to resell books on another marketplace. It will consume more time compared to the scanning method and wholesaling method, so it is best to aim for books that can be sold for $25 or even more. Books of first edition and textbooks are great targets.
9 Simple Steps for Starting a Book Selling Business on Amazon
After understanding the basics of how to sell used books on Amazon, the following are simple steps to get the know-how on the bookselling business you are hoping to start.
Step 1: Pick the sourcing method
Among the methods listed previously, choose the one that fits you and your own personality best.
If you are the thrill-seeking kind of individual who loves to hunt, then the scanning method will fit you probably. However, if you are applying this method, you have to make sure to get an app that is a good scanner and can scan books at a single push of a button.
If you are a bit of a haggler who likes making deals, then the wholesaling method is worth a try. If you can be happily flipping on some ten textbooks over again and again, then the method of online arbitrage must be to your likelihood.
Step 2: Look for an inventory
If ever you had decided to scan for wholesale, then better start looking for book sales around. To look for the date of the next sale, check regularly with the local library and old bookstores for updates. You can also visit Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for any yard sales and estate sales organized near your area. You might be finding someone willing to sell an entire collection.
Step 3: Register your own Amazon seller account
To be able to sell something on Amazon, you need to create a seller account. You can choose from the two types of accounts which are:
Individual Seller – This seller account is free, but for every unit you are selling, you will have to pay an additional one dollar.
Professional Seller – This seller account costs thirty-nine dollars and ninety-five cents per month. However, the additional fee of one dollar will not be needed.
If you are confident that you can get forty units per month to get sold out (for perspective, I was able to sell three hundred books per month during my start), then it will be more affordable to sign up for a professional selling plan.
Step 4: Use Fetcher for monitoring purposes
It’s fairly common to lose track of any book that costs a specific amount when you have hundreds of varied titles to deal with. At the time when I got started, I might be spending five hundred dollars for just five hundred books in one day then eighty dollars for the next two thousand. Since I have no knowledge about where a certain book came from a certain bulk purchase, I had no idea whether the sale I made was even profiting or not.
It was very messy, but thankfully, I found a solution via Fetcher. Fetcher is basically an app that will integrate with your own Amazon Seller Account, help you in making sense of your own Seller Central data, and track your profits by you having to input the costs of each one of your books.
Other features include the following:
- Breakdown of a product on a per ASIN basis
- Analysis of sales and PPC cost
- Tracking of product promotion and real costs
- Fees in Amazon, like FBA, storage, etc.
- Tracking of refunds with costs and comparisons
- Tracking and calculation of costs of sold goods
- Inventory dashboard
- Statement of loss and professional profit
- Sales per day and profit email
Ever since I started to use Fetcher, my profits shot up to thirty-eight percent more, making it much easier to know if a book is worthy of listing or not one you are tracking cost-of-goods. Additionally, the user-friendly interface makes it convenient over Seller Central (which I don’t even check out anymore).
An app similar to this can charge you ninety-seven dollars per month as a startup subscription, but the costs of Fetcher can be much lower. Fetcher can cost you as low as nineteen dollars per month, depending on the number of sales you make within a single month.
People at Fetcher are very confident in the app’s abilities to accurately track your profits in Amazon, and they will even have you try the app for FREE within thirty-one days.
Step 5: Start listing the inventory on Amazon
The next step to do is to make a list of your inventory. There can be ways to have your inventory scanned automatically, but if you are similar to me, you might consider adding each book manually by typing the ISBN to the search bar of Amazon and click “I have one to sell”.
Through this method, the book’s condition can be checked too. If you find your own book’s listings, you will also do make a list as one of the five conditions. These are the following conditions in which you can list the books as:
This means that the condition of the item is being brand-new, unopened, unused, and still wrapped in its original packaging included with all the original wrapping materials. Also included is the intact original protective wrapper if there is any. It should also include the warranty of the original manufacturer if there is any or even still applicable, including with the details in the printed listing comments.
Used – Like New
The condition of the item is being apparently untouched where the original protective wrapper may be lacking or missing but the original packaging is still in its intact, pristine form. Note that the difference of Used – Like New and New can be so negligible oftentimes, and you might consider listing the book as New for the advantage of higher price and Buy Box.
Used – Very Good
The condition of the item is used but well-cared and seen traces of limited usage but still remains under great condition. The item is still complete, undamaged, and unmarked but may have shallow signs of wear. It remains working perfectly.
Note that if the used book has absolutely no specks of writing in it, then it can be listed as Very Good. If the used book had writings in it or even missed a dust jacket, then book nerds will criticize you negatively, and worse, you will even receive negative seller feedback.
Used – Good
The condition of the item is used with the description noted under the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item may be worn from constant use but still in good condition enough to be working properly. It can contain markings or any obvious signs that the book is being used previously. Note that this is the lowest condition I’ll ever consider in terms of book quality.
Used – Acceptable
The condition of the item is used with the description still noted under the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item may be fairly looking worn down but still working as fine. Issues can be reflected in the aesthetics like dents, scratches, and worn corners. It may be containing markings or any obvious signs that the book is being used previously.
For the record, books under the Acceptable condition are items that went a lot of usages. I will only consider selling a book under this condition if I managed to purchase them beforehand at a very low cost and if the book can return more than what I have been investing and/or has extremely low BSR.
Plenty of consumers including myself tend to avoid books at this condition, so please take extra caution when considering buying them. People who spend money to buy used books are often very keen about the conditions.
If a certain book lover finds writing in the book bought that’s in a condition under Very Good, then they will be contacting you. Ninety percent of the time, you as the seller will have to refund the purchased price (oftentimes, refunds are cheaper compared to asking to return the item) in order to avoid having negative seller feedback. In conclusion, it will be ideal to have the book listings under the appropriate conditions for the first time in order to prevent refunds after having an issue of mislabeling of items.
Step 6: Send the books to the closest Fulfillment center
If you are going to resell books, then you will need to send them to the closest fulfillment center. Fortunately, that is conveniently done. You just need to store the books in a box that can be bought from Home Depot and ship one or all of them to the preferred carriers of Amazon. Also, please remember to mark the shipping costs to your account in Fetcher.
Step 7: Observe incoming sales via Fetcher
Once you had done the previous steps right like the selection of books according to BSRs, pricing them accordingly to the conditions, and sending them to the nearest Fulfillment centers, you will immediately see the rise in your sales. Make sure you logged in to Fetcher to check your stats daily and view how much profit you have.
Step 8: Make sure to provide quality customer service
Fortunately, since you are not the author or even a contributor to the content of the book that you are about to sell, you need not worry so much about stuff like reviews. All you need to do is make sure that your customers are happy.
There is a way to maintain communication between your customers (if you are selling FBA, then Amazon will be providing your customers outside support) and that is to use a certain automated email service such as Launch.
SageMailer and other similar platforms allow you to keep up with your buyers by following up if they are happy with what they had ordered.
It can be rare to have such negative seller feedback from any buyer, but when it does happen, it will be usually to the improper labeling of the item’s condition. Let me remind you again to never list books under the wrong condition to avoid negative seller feedback.
Step 9: Start promoting your business
As technology is continuously developing, social media is gaining more power than one could ever imagine. It’s not only for communicating with family members and friends along with such wide distances, but it can also be a great way for marketing your books for reselling to boost up your sales on Amazon.
If you are not yet socially connected, try making an account on Facebook and/or Instagram. Use the platforms to promote the books you are about to sell and provide recommendations to interested groups like book clubs and even your circle of friends and even your unfamiliar followers.
For about nine months, I had been selling used books on Amazon before making the switch to full-time Private Label. I hope I was able to guide you through the process of selling used books on Amazon so that you can have a head start on the Amazon online business that you are dreaming of.
By following the Amazon tips and secrets above, alongside the two thousand to three thousand dollars of profits I made each month I was selling books, I was able to create a launching pad to create my own labels. There’s nothing that can stop you from following what I did.
The business of buy-and-sell will be difficult in a competitive environment if you won’t utilize the power the internet brings. Whatever status you are, as long as you are familiar with the basic operations of a computer or even a smartphone and vigilant enough to do good research, the possibilities can be endless.
Growing a business with Amazon can be a full-time job or just a solid part-time backup, but the convenience it can offer and the door of opportunities it can open are possibly plenty than you can ever imagine.