Selling books on amazon

December 10

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[5 Steps] Make Money Selling Books on Amazon

By Carol J. Dunlop

Last Updated December 10, 2019


I published my first book in 2017, using Amazon KDP. It hit #1 International Best Seller. I was stoked, I’d worked really hard to get that designation. So when Nate said he wanted me to write an article about selling books on Amazon I was all in.

What surprised me was how easy Amazon makes it for sellers to sell not only their books, but any book. I may have just found a new side hustle. 

After you complete this guide, you’ll be armed with everything you need to know about selling books on Amazon.

Why Sell on Amazon?

Even though I’m a published author, I had no idea I could sell other people’s books. Yes, I’ve read a lot about it, as I’m sure you have as well. But actually getting into it, as a business or side-hustle, never occurred to me.

why sell on amazon

As I researched it, I began to see the light. Maybe I could use this to expand my business? If you decide to add selling books on Amazon, you’re joining over 140,000 businesses who already sell on Amazon.

Amazon sells over 45% of the online print books in the USA. Whether you want to sell full-time or as a side-hustle, Amazon is the place to get started.

How to Start Your Book Selling Journey on Amazon

Amazon Seller Central

The first thing you need to do to start selling books on Amazon is to create a seller’s account on Amazon.com.

Go to SellerCentral.amazon.com to register. Once you get inside, click the “Start Selling” button. Follow the prompts to continue setting up your account.

You’ll need to have the following information handy as you fill out the information:

  • Your Driver's License or passport

  • Bank account information. This is where Amazon will deposit your money.

  • Credit or debit card number (if you are choosing the Professional Seller option).

  • You may need to enter information from your credit card or bank statement.

The most important decision you’ll have to make is which type of seller you’ll be, Individual or Professional.

professional or individual seller on Amazon

Individual Seller: If you’re planning to sell less than 40 books per month choose “Individual Seller.” There isn’t a monthly fee, but you’ll be charged .99 cents for each book you sell. Also, you won’t be able to set your own shipping rates.

Professional Seller: If you think you’ll sell more than 40 books in a month, choose the "Professional Seller" option. Your monthly fee will be $39.99 and you won’t be charged per item. You can also set your own shipping rates.

NOTE of Caution: Be careful when you’re choosing the seller designation. If you want "Individual" but mistakenly choose "Professional," you have to continue and pay the $39.99 fee and then wait to get it reimbursed. Or simply start over with another email address.

In addition to the seller fees you will also be charged the following:

  • 15% referral fee on books
  • $1.80 closing fee on all media items, including books

One huge reason to choose the Professional Seller option is the BUY BOX. This is the white box on the right side of the Amazon product detail page. It’s where customers can add items to their cart that they wish to purchase. Only Professional Sellers are eligible to show up here. Your book has to be new. If the book is used, it is sold in a separate BUY USED BOX.

Amazon buy box

The Buy Used Box is the section where you can purchase from third party sellars. A lot of people, me included, don’t realize that you can choose to purchase from other third-party sellers.

After you complete the seller designation, you’ll be asked to provide information about your business including the legal name, address, email address, phone number, and other contact information.

If you already have a shopper account, the process will go smoother, as they already have some of your information.

If you’re new to Amazon, you’ll have more to fill in.

Have your phone ready, because Amazon will call or text you to verify that you are you.

Once you complete everything, you’re good to go and ready to start selling.

The next step is to download the Amazon Seller App.

When you become a seller, you can download the app from iTunes or Google Play. It gives you details for any products that are available on Amazon’s website.

The app tells you the selling price, fees, and other details. It’s also synced with your account so it can tell you if you’re allowed to sell that particular product or if it’s restricted. 

You can search for products by name or their UPC code. Or you can use your cell phone to scan the bar code.

Check the (BSR) On That Potential Amazon Book

The Best Seller Rank (BSR) shows you if that book you want to list on Amazon is worth it. 

The BSR is located in the product details section.

Finding the Amazon Best Sellers Rank

The lower the BSR number, the more sales that book has. The higher the BSR number, the longer you’ll have to wait for sales to happen, if ever. From my research, you should look for books with a BSR lower than 250,000.

BSR below 250k

That midrange BSR is selling well enough to make you money, and the competition isn’t too stiff so that your sales are hindered.

Selling Used Books on Amazon

Most books that you sell on Amazon will be used books. But don’t worry, there is a big market for used books.

Since used books self for less than new books, it's imperative that you get them for a good price. Stay in the $1 per book range, as much as possible. This will leave you room to make a profit.

Use Amazon’s guideline for used books when you're searching for books to resell.

Amazon Used book conditions

NewA brand-new copy with cover and original protective wrapping intact. Books with markings of any kind on the cover or pages, books marked as "Bargain" or "Remainder," or with any other labels attached, may not be listed as New condition.

Used - Like NewItem may have minor cosmetic defects (marks, wears, cuts, bends, crushes) on the cover, spine, pages or dust cover. Dust cover is intact and pages are clean and not marred by notes. Item may contain remainder marks on outside edges. Item may be missing bundle media.

Used - Very GoodItem may have minor cosmetic defects (marks, wears, cuts, bends, crushes) on the cover, spine, pages or dust cover. Shrink wrap, dust covers, or boxed set case may be missing. Item may contain remainder marks on outside edges, which should be noted in listing comments. Item may be missing bundled media.

Used - GoodAll pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels. Shrink wrap, dust covers, or boxed set case may be missing. Item may be missing bundled media.

Used - AcceptableAll pages and the cover are intact, but shrink wrap, dust covers, or boxed set case may be missing. Pages may include limited notes, highlighting, or minor water damage but the text is readable. Item may but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text cannot be obscured or unreadable.

SOURCE: AMAZON SELLER CENTRAL: MARKETPLACE ITEMS CONDITION GUIDELINES

Where to Find Books to Sell/Resell on Amazon

I can feel that you are already excited about your book-selling journey. But you may be wandering where to find these books.

The great thing is that you can find books to purchase for cheap and resell for profit in a lot of different places.

Before you start looking for books to resell, make sure there’s an audience looking to buy those books.

Use Amazon’s “Best Sellers” list on Amazon.com. Go through the list and see what’s selling. You’re looking for the types of books along with the subject matter for the book.

In an interview on The Work at Home Wife, Peter Valley, owner FBA Mastery says that there are three types of books that sell the best:

  • Textbooks

  • Books published in the last 10 years

  • Esoteric books (books that offer private, secret, confidential information; occult, masonry, etc.)

Here are several places to search and find books to resell. Mark your calendar for the sales, so you can plan all the places to visit.

Your Bookshelf

This is the best way to start, right in your own home, office, basement, or attic. Think of it as zero-cost inventory. Be sure to mark them as inventory so you don’t accidentally lend them out to friends.

Yard Sales

There are yard sales galore every week, sometimes daily. Churches, neighborhoods, and families hold yard sales to get rid of “stuff,” but you can find good quality books. You can offer to buy them in bulk or pick the best of the bunch.

garage sale tracker

Locate garage sale in cities across the United States using GarageSalesTracker.com.

THRIFT STORES

Thrift stores are an excellent source to find inventory. Type “thrift” into the Google Maps app. The app will show you all the thrift stores near you. It will also tell you their hours of operation and phone number. Secondhand and Used Book stores are also a great place to look.

flea market zone

Flea Markets

You can always find great deals on new and used books at Flea Markets. Search for flea markets from New York City to San Francisco using FleaMarketZone.com.

FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE

Facebook Marketplace is a good source to browse for books. Sometimes people just want to get rid of the books and won’t charge their full value.

Locate Estate sales

Estate Sales

Estate sales can be hit or miss, but they are worth looking into. You never know what you’ll find. Use the information found on EstateSales.net to locate inventory so you don’t waste time looking at poor selections.

Craigslist 

Search Craigslist for your books. You may want to create an advertising listing on Craigslist, saying that you buy book collections.

Library

Ask the library to give you the books they’re going to get rid of. If they look at you a little funny, ask them instead about their next sale. Also check for online library sales.

Wholesalers 

Wholesalers are a great source for used and new books. Major wholesalers like Ingram and Baker & Taylor buy lots of books. They are safe to use, but they like to deal in large numbers. There are smaller wholesalers, but you’ll have to put on your thinking and negotiating hat to deal with them. Neither may give you the price you are looking for until you can deal in larger quantities.

book sale finder

BOOK SALE FINDER

BookSaleFinder.com is a database of book sales and book stores in the USA.

Small and Self-publishers 

Small publishers don’t often carry enough weight in book sales to land with major wholesalers, so you could make some headway here. The same goes for self-published authors. But be careful, these books may not be of the content quality you want to sell.

How to Get Your Books to Buyers

There are three ways to fulfill the orders that you get from selling your books.

Fulfilled-by-Merchant (FBM): You create a listing and then pack and ship the book. If you already have a fulfillment system in place, this is a good choice for you. It also works well if you only plan to sell a few books.

Amazon Vendors (AMZ): You use Amazon’s vendor central services and sell your inventory directly to them. If you need to unload a lot of books, this will work for you.

Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA): You create a listing and Amazon stores, packs, and ships your books for a fee. This is the most popular choice for new sellers. FBA products qualify for Prime’s free and fast shipping options.

Amazon Prime

3 Ways to Keep Book sales going

You’ve started your book-selling journey, now you need to keep it going. Here are three ways to make sure your new venture doesn’t end up as a “tried and failed” project.

1. Provide great customer service

Your first priority is to make sure your customer is happy. Today, customers are researching what they want and need before they purchase and they are not afraid to complain via social media when their expectations aren’t met.

ok to apologize

Don’t be afraid to apologize when things don’t go as planned for you or the customer. Then proceed to make the transaction as “right” as you can.

Follow up is key. It warms my heart every time I receive an email or some sort of note asking how I liked the product and if I had any comments. It just makes the whole experience more human.

One thing you must do is list the condition of the book accurately. This one simple step will prevent bad blood from starting between you and what could be a life-long customer.

2. Advertise locally that you buy books

You can build a steady source of inventory by advertising locally that you buy books. Here are some effective methods to help you get the word out:

  • Create a website and direct people to visit it

  • Search for Facebook groups where your audience hangs out

  • Make business cards or post cards and hand them out

  • Start an email list and send out regular notices

  • Post on Craigslist

  • Make flyers and post them on the community boards of local coffee shops

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Bring it up in conversations, any and all that apply.

3. Look for NON-book products as well

You can sell books and products that are related to books. Making these items available can make the total sale bigger.

There you have it, your guide to selling books on Amazon. This information has certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities of making money on Amazon.

What about you? Are you jumping in and starting to sell your books on Amazon as well? Let me know in the comments.

About the author

Carol J. Dunlop is an Amazon #1 International Best-selling author for her book, UN-Market Your Business; 10 Ways for Savvy Entrepreneurs to Stand Out, Stop Struggling, and Start Profiting. Carol is known as “The Online WOW! Strategist.” She teaches entrepreneurs to convert marketing into money so they can find and perfect the marketing strategy they love to get more clients and live the life they want. Carol’s clients hail from cities across the U.S.A., the U.K., and Australia.

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