How to Sell Books on Amazon and Make Money

If you’ve heard of Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos, you might know that Amazon started as an online bookstore. Yes, that’s right! Initially, Amazon only sold books before branching out into other product categories.

Even today, books remain a significant part of Amazon’s business. Amazon has revolutionized the way books are published and sold, leading to billions in book sales revenue. In fact, a study by eMarketer reveals that around 62% of all books, music, and videos are now bought online!

If you’re an e-commerce seller looking to sell books on Amazon successfully and make a profit, this article has all the essential information you need.

Is Selling Books on Amazon Profitable?

You might be wondering if selling books on Amazon can actually make you money. The answer is a clear “yes.”

People from various backgrounds are sharing their success stories in book selling. Some do it casually for extra income, while others turn it into a full-time job. Why? Because the profit potential is impressive. Think about buying a book for a few dollars and selling it for ten times that amount or more!

But hold on, not every book is a goldmine. Like any smart seller, you’ll need to do some research to find books that people are eager to buy. With the tips and strategies in this guide, you can kickstart a successful book-selling business.

When it comes to selling books, Amazon is the place to be. They dominate over 50% of the print book market and a staggering three-quarters of the ebook market. Plus, more people are joining Prime memberships every day. Clearly, Amazon is the go-to platform for book buyers.

Now, let’s talk money. If you’re considering publishing on Kindle, you’ll earn royalties. Amazon offers a 35% or a generous 70% share for each book sold. Here’s the breakdown: Amazon takes 65% for books under $2.99 or over $9.99. But the good news is, they only keep 30% for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. So, you’ll make more profit for books in that price range.

Keep in mind that your earnings depend on the demand for your content and how well you present it in your listings.

How Much Does It Cost?

Selling books on Amazon involves several types of fees. These fees fall into four main categories: Subscription fees, Selling fees, Shipping fees, and FBA fees.

Let’s make it simple:

  • Subscription fees: If you plan to sell at least 40 items each month, you can save money by subscribing to the Professional plan for $39.99 per month. This plan lets you list and sell as many items as you want.
  • Selling fees: For each item you sell, there’s a $0.99 fee. If you’re selling 40 or more items monthly, the Professional plan is your cost-effective choice.
  • Referral fees: All book sellers pay a 15% referral fee and a $1.80 closing fee for each book sold. If you deal in Collectible books, a flat 15% fee applies per sale.
  • Shipping fees: Shipping costs depend on whether you handle your own orders or use Amazon’s FBA service. Professional plan sellers can set their own shipping rates. Individual sellers have less flexibility but can find real-time shipping fees in Amazon’s Media Shipping Rates table.
  • FBA fees: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is popular for book distribution. With FBA, you’ll pay monthly storage fees and potential charges for long-term storage or inventory removal if you stop using FBA. Shipping fees with FBA vary based on your book’s weight and dimensions, ranging from a few dollars to over $7 per book. Check exact fulfillment fees on Amazon Seller Central.
  • Additional selling fees: If you have numerous active listings that haven’t sold in a year, Amazon charges a monthly fee of $0.005 per listing, but this only applies after you exceed 100,000 listings. For refunded orders, there’s a refund administration fee, which is either 20% of the referral fee or $5.00, whichever is less.

Understanding these fees will help you calculate the costs of selling books on Amazon more effectively.

How to Sell Books on Amazon: 6 Steps

Step 1: Create your Amazon seller Account

If you’re not an Amazon seller yet, follow these easy steps to sign up and start selling:

Professional Seller Account (Monthly Fee: $39.99):

  • Click here to open a Professional Seller account.
  • It costs $39.99 per month, but you won’t pay any extra fees when you sell books.

Individual Seller Account (No Monthly Fee):

  • Scroll down on the page and click “Sign up to become an individual seller.”
  • This account is free, but you’ll pay Amazon $0.99 for each book you sell.

Not sure which one to pick? Here’s a quick tip:

  • Estimate how many books you’ll sell each month.
  • If it’s fewer than 40 books, go for the Individual account with no monthly fee.
  • If you expect to sell more than 40 books, the Professional account may be cheaper.

Important Details:

  • Follow the instructions after clicking the links to set up your account.
  • You’ll need a valid credit card, phone number, and tax info handy, so make sure to have them ready before you begin.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to set up your Amazon seller account:

Step 2: Decide on the type of books you want to sell

Before you start selling books on Amazon, it’s important to determine the kind of books you want to sell. There are two main options to consider:

New Books: New books are in high demand because many buyers prefer fresh copies. However, sourcing new books can be challenging. You’ll need to buy them from wholesalers, distributors, or publishers, often in bulk.

Used Books: Selling used books is a popular choice among independent sellers because they are easier to find. You can locate used books online or locally. While they may not be as popular as new books, finding good deals can still lead to profitable sales.

For most sellers, dealing with used books is simpler and involves less competition since Amazon usually offers new releases. However, if you have the financial means and a reliable supply chain, selling new books can result in higher profits.

Used Books

Step 3: Source books to sell on Amazon

Many online book sellers begin by selling books they already own. However, if you aim to expand your book sales on Amazon, there are various places to acquire books:

1. Sell Your Unwanted Books

One of the simplest ways to find books is right in your own home or garage. Just take a look around, and you’ll realize how readily available books are.

When deciding what kinds of books to sell, the options are vast. You can explore comic books, rare books, textbooks, recipe books, art books, children’s books, and more. Amazon’s FAQ section provides further details for reference.

Amazon BSR (Best Sellers Rank) is a handy metric that shows how fast a product sells on Amazon. It’s essential for guiding your book choices. Also, calculate potential profits after considering all costs and fees linked to a book.

2. Online and Offline Arbitrage

Remember, the internet offers a world of opportunities. You can find books on websites to sell on Amazon, often at lower prices than what you’ll see on Amazon.

Here’s how to do it: Buy books at lower prices from platforms like eBay and Craigslist, and then resell them on Amazon for a profit. Also, don’t overlook local bookstores and flea markets as potential sources for hidden gems.

3. Bulk and Wholesale Buying

Purchasing books in bulk can save money, even though you may not pick specific titles. Look into real estate and farm sales or opportunities from closing bookstores.

4. Free Books

Although nothing in life is truly free, sometimes you can actually get books without spending a dime. Check out platforms like Craigslist, Gumtree, or Facebook Marketplace. People who are moving or selling their homes might be eager to get rid of their old books. All you have to do is pick them up.

5. Write Your Own eBook

If you’re a writer, think about Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to publish your digital books on Amazon.

With KDP, you maintain control over your rights, set your own prices, make updates whenever you want, and earn royalties on sales. 

Here’s a video tutorial on self-publishing with KDP:

Step 4: Choose the right books to sell on Amazon

To succeed on Amazon, it’s vital to choose the right books to sell. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

1. Check Amazon’s Best Sellers List

Start by looking at Amazon’s Best Sellers list. This list ranks books based on how well they’re selling compared to others. A lower ranking (Best Sellers Rank or BSR of 100,000 or lower) indicates higher popularity. Aim for books with lower BSR numbers because they are more likely to sell.

2. Book Condition Matters

Whether you’re selling new or used books, keep them in good condition. Buyers expect even used books to be decent. For used book sales on Amazon, you’ll need the basics: an Amazon seller account, a way to fulfill orders, and an inventory. Follow Amazon’s condition guidelines, and keep these pricing tips in mind:

  • The book’s condition affects its price; better condition means a higher price.
  • Check competitor prices, Amazon’s prices, and customer ratings. Positive feedback is key to selling success.
  • Aim to win the Buy Box, where most sales occur. It boosts your credibility and sales for used books.

3. Estimate Sales Likelihood

To gauge a book’s chances of selling on Amazon, you can use tools and apps. Many sellers use scanners to quickly find inventory. Amazon’s mobile seller app includes a scanner with product prices, BSR, and other Amazon stats. 

Another option is the Scout IQ app, available for iPhone and Android. It lets you download the entire book database for offline scanning, providing more effective scouting data. While it may require a monthly fee, it offers better data than alternatives like Neatoscan and FBAScan.

Amazon's Best Sellers List

Step 5: Decide on the fulfilment method

When you sell on Amazon, you can pick between two ways to handle your orders: Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) or Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM)

With FBM, you do the packing and shipping yourself using your chosen delivery service. FBM sellers must keep their inventory, and Amazon’s warehouses aren’t used. When figuring out costs, remember to include storage fees, unless you store items at your place. You also need to consider shipping and handling costs and the time needed to prepare and ship orders. It’s a more hands-on approach, so cost analysis is crucial.

Sellers usually go for FBM if they have a small number of orders or a big enough business where shipping costs are lower than what Amazon offers. Just keep in mind that you’ll need space to store your inventory.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Opting for FBA means Amazon takes care of everything. After a sale, Amazon handles picking, packing, shipping, and customer service. You can also store your inventory in Amazon’s warehouses, avoiding the hassle of managing storage, shipping, handling, and labor costs separately. Instead, you pay one fee to Amazon that covers your participation in the FBA program.

Sellers often choose FBA when they have a lot of orders and their operations aren’t large enough to get lower shipping costs than FBA fees. Plus, you can store your books in Amazon’s warehouses until they’re sold, saving you from the need to store them yourself.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Step 6: List your book on Amazon

So, you’ve registered to sell on Amazon, and now it’s time to list your books. Here’s the simplest way to do it: head to the actual product detail page for the book you want to list. Yes, you can list your books directly from the Amazon page itself instead of creating a brand-new listing. Once you list your book, it appears on the same page.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Find the Product Listing Page: Look for the book’s ISBN (the book’s registration code) and enter it in Amazon’s search bar, just like when you’re looking for something to buy. You’ll typically find the ISBN on the book’s barcode or somewhere within the book’s dust jacket. If the book was created before 1970 and doesn’t have an ISBN, you’ll need to manually enter the title.

  2. Click “Sell on Amazon”: On the product listing page, there should be a gray button that says “Sell on Amazon,” usually located just below the Buy Box. Click on that button, and if you’re allowed to sell the book, you’ll see the next screen.

  3. Enter the Following Information:

    • SKU: This is your unique identifier for the book. You can choose anything that helps you remember it, or leave it blank, and Amazon will assign one for you.
    • Price: Set the book’s price based on its condition. For example, books in “Acceptable” condition often have a lower price than those in “Very Good” condition. Try not to price it too low to avoid price wars.
    • Quantity: If you have multiple copies of the book, enter the total quantity. Otherwise, it defaults to one.
    • Condition: Choose from Amazon’s condition options, such as “New,” “Like New,” “Very Good,” “Good,” or “Acceptable.” For collectible books, you have similar options. Avoid listing a book as “New” unless it’s genuinely brand new.
    • Fulfillment Channel: Decide whether you want to fulfill the orders yourself (FBM) or let Amazon handle it (FBA).
  4. What Happens Next:

    • If you choose FBM, your book listing will appear on the product page within 15-30 minutes, and you wait for a sale.
    • If you select FBA, your book needs to be shipped to Amazon for preparation. This usually takes 1-2 weeks for the inventory to reach the fulfillment center. Amazon then takes 3-7 days to unpack and distribute the inventory. During busy times like the holidays, it may take longer.

    Sometimes, items can go missing in an Amazon warehouse, but you can track your inventory and ensure you’re paid for it if it’s lost.

Final Thoughts

No matter if you’re a seasoned online entrepreneur or just testing the waters with a side gig, selling books on Amazon is a fantastic choice. It’s a low-cost way to start, especially if you’re beginning with a small inventory.

If you  follow the steps we’ve laid out, you’re well on your way to creating a thriving online business that can bring in significant earnings. Of course, you can also explore other ways to make money online

FAQs

1. How do I put my book on Amazon for sale?

To sell your book on Amazon, follow these steps:

Reselling Books: If you’re reselling books, set up a Seller Central account and start listing products. It’s a straightforward process.

Publishing a Book: If you’re publishing a book, you’ll need the following information for an Amazon Seller Central account:

  • An existing Amazon customer account or a business email address.
  • A credit card that can be charged internationally.
  • Current government-issued identification.
  • A tax ID, which can be either a social security number or an EIN.
  • An active phone number.
  • A bank account to receive payments.

2. How to make an ebook and sell it on Amazon?

If you want to create and sell an ebook on Amazon, follow these steps:

  1. Utilize Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), which is Amazon’s ebook division.
  2. KDP offers a comprehensive help portal to assist with ebook formatting, creation, and marketing.
  3. When you’re ready to publish, KDP will guide you through tasks like creating a compelling title, adding authors and contributors, writing an effective book description, and choosing the most appropriate categories. Note that pre-order forms are available for future ebooks but not for printed books.

3. How to get a best-selling book on Amazon?

While not essential for success, becoming a bestseller can significantly boost your book’s sales on Amazon. Here’s how to increase your chances:

  • Consider factors like book categories and keyword phrases (not individual keywords).
  • Keep an eye on the current top-selling books in your category.
  • Strive to achieve strong sales during the first week your book is listed.
  • Pay attention to other books in your niche and pricing on promotional lists.

Earning the best-selling badge requires effort, but ranking #1 in a single category can be a valuable achievement.

4. What types of books sell best on Amazon?

Books that tend to sell well on Amazon include:

  • Textbooks
  • Niche books
  • Comic books
  • Collectible books
  • Non-fiction books
  • Hardcover books

These categories often enjoy high demand and higher prices, making them attractive choices for reselling. However, be aware that some publishers may restrict sales of certain textbooks, and fiction books may depreciate in value more rapidly than non-fiction.

5. What types of books don’t sell well on Amazon?

On Amazon, certain types of books tend to have lower sales, including:

  • Fiction books
  • Children’s books
  • Cookbooks
  • Mass-market paperbacks
  • Popular new releases

Factors contributing to their lower sales can include high print runs, lower cover prices, competition from Amazon itself, and lower selling prices.

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