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In 1994 Jeff Bezos founded Amazon and started selling books. According to Statista, the category Books is the fifth most popular category on Amazon in the United States.
As you can see from the figure below, Amazon generated total sales of $258.22 billion in 2018. The sales share of the category Books/Music/Video is 11.9 %. This amounts to a total of USD 30.72 billion.
But why am I telling you this? There's one simple reason for that. You can also make money on Amazon, by selling used books. To be clear: You can earn a lot of money selling books on Amazon.
Selling books on Amazon can be a very good idea, especially if you are thinking about selling private label products on Amazon in the future.
An important reason for this is that you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to buy stuff that you want to resell. There is no risk that you will lose a lot of money because books are NOT very expensive.
By selling books on Amazon, you can save up a starting capital that you can then use to launch your first private label product.
You will also gain your first experience by selling books on Amazon. If you plan to launch your own product on Amazon at a later time, this experience will pay off and perhaps you will be able to triple your success in the first few months.
So it doesn't matter if you just want to get rid of a few old books or start a real business on Amazon.
If you want to make a few bucks, double your income or build a real business that drives you unlimited income, this guide is for you.
Here's what you will learn:
Let dive into it.
I think everyone who reads this article has a reason for it. Some people probably want to get rid of some old books that have been lying around in their closets for years.
Others want to sell professionally and are dealing with the idea of starting by selling books on Amazon.
No matter what reason you have. This section deals with five REALLY good reasons why you should sell books on Amazon.
This is the simplest reason: You can make money selling books on Amazon.
Dave Hamrick from Jungle Scout claims that he build a lucrative Amazon business that drives thousands a month by selling used books on Amazon.
No matter if you want to sell your used books on Amazon or buy new ones and resell them. In both cases, you can make money.
You can use the strategies of this article to sell used books on Amazon or to sell new ones.
It's also really good to save some budget for future investments.
So if you want to start a real business on Amazon later, selling books on Amazon could be your best bet.
These times, there are E-Books, digital magazines, and almost everyone is looking for information on Wikipedia, rather than in an old-school encyclopedia.
One might think that the demand for books has dropped dramatically in recent years.
According to Google Trends, this is not the case. People all over the world search for books on Amazon for the past five years and the number remains nearly the same.
And indeed, the worldwide interest in Amazon Kindle has declined in the last 5 years!
So I think the demand for books is really huge. In 2018, the net revenue of the U.S. book publishing industry was about 25.82 billion USD. 10.28 billion USD were generated in bookstores. And as we all know, bookstores sell printed books, not E-Books.
Also, 65% of people in the US read more than one book a year. On average, an American citizen reads 12 books a year.
Amazon is a marketplace where thousands of products are sold every day. A large part of these products are books.
Here are some facts about Amazon:
Also: Amazon is the largest online marketplace for products worldwide. 59% of 16-36 Year-Olds head to Amazon before any other E-Commerce Website.
In fact, if you want to sell online, there's no way around Amazon. Some people out there think about selling on eBay, but I would not recommend this.
However, you can read our article about selling on Amazon vs. eBay to get your own impression.
On Amazon, you can choose between three ways to sell your products.
Processing by you (FBM):
You list your product on Amazon, pack and ship your products to your customers yourself.
Amazon Vendors (AMZ):
You sell your inventory to Amazon via the central merchant services. This is often useful for entrepreneurs who need to get rid of a lot of inventory quickly.
Processing by Amazon (FBA):
You list your product on Amazon, but Amazon stores, packages and ships your product to your customers. Also, the FBA sellers' products are qualified for Amazon Prime, which means fast and free shipping.
FBA is a popular way for new sellers to get started on Amazon.
That's because FBA sellers only have to worry about selling the products, not about storage or shipping.
In the beginning, you can decide whether you want to sell your products via FBA Service or FBM.
As soon as your Amazon business starts growing, I recommend that you switch to FBA.
Specifically, the FBA service of Amazon offers the following advantages:
According to an article by BusinessInsider, the average Amazon Prime customer spends $1400 per year on Amazon, while normal customers spend only $600 on Amazon.
That's $800 more!
So once your Amazon business starts growing, you can switch to FBA and give your business an extra boost.
The Buy Box is the box on the right side of the product detail page where customers can add items to their shopping cart for purchase.
Not every seller can win the Buy Box. Only sellers with good reviews have the chance to win it and thus triple their sales.
If you are the cheapest seller (and you have a good seller rating), it will be very easy for you to win it.
So if you start selling and get more reviews over time, you'll make significantly more sales.
In fact, winning the BuyBox more often means turbocharge your sales.
Here you can learn more about the Amazon Buy Box.
Since it's not a good idea to buy books on Alibaba or Aliexpress, let's talk about where and how you should buy them. Besides all the strategies mentioned in this article, two things are really important.
Finally, you have to decide what books you should sell. Regarding this, you have to focus on two criteria.
That is the BSR and the net profit after deducting all costs and fees.
The BSR tells you how quickly a product sells on Amazon. The higher the BSR of a product, the slower it sells. This Number should not exceed 100,000.
The net profit after deduction of all costs and fees should be at least $2 for books. Better $3.
You can easily calculate the net profit with Helium 10 XRay, here you can see a screenshot of it:
But you can also use the Amazon Seller app.
It's really important that you remember that every book has to meet these two criteria.
Searching offline for books that you can sell on Amazon is a very popular method.
This method works similar to retail arbitrage, I explained in this article: How To Sell On Amazon Via Retail Arbitrage in 4 Easy Steps.
I recommend reading this article to understand the whole process.
To search offline for books that you can sell on Amazon, you should search for places where you can find heavily reduced books. Book prices should be between $1-$2 per unit.
Such places are, for example:
I have searched the Internet for places where there are strongly reduced books. Unfortunately, I didn't find much information.
A good way to find out good information is to ask bookstores if there are any special events, fairs, etc...
I think these people are very familiar with everything about books.
Once you've found some good places to buy books, follow this process:
Searching offline for books can even be fun. You will see that there are a lot of books on a lot of interesting topics. According to Statista, 610,000 books were produced in Europe in 2017.
That's another way to find perfect books to sell on Amazon. Instead of scanning each book individually, you buy masses of books at one go.
Of course, you don't have the control and choice you have with the offline method, but you can buy the books at a lower price because you buy a larger quantity.
Here're some places to buy masses of books:
At such events, you can always get very exciting stuff for a few buckets.
Dave Hemrick of Jungle Scout reports that he was able to buy books for $0.25 this way. Not bad.
However, Dave has been stuck on a few books, so he ended up paying $1 for each unit.
Online arbitrage works on the same principle as retail arbitrage but has one important difference. You don't buy books offline, but on other online marketplaces like eBay.
What is the step-by-step process?
Just like retail arbitrage. The only difference is that you buy your products on eBay or other e-commerce marketplaces.
Here're some examples:
You can find an article about Online Arbitrage here.
The first thing you have to do is choose a method to purchase books.
Are you creative and do you like the thrill? Then the offline method is the right choice.
Are you a tough businessman? Then wholesale is the right choice.
You don't like to go out to do business? Then try the online arbitrage.
Once you have decided on a method, you must find a source. So where do you get the books from?
If you have decided on the offline method, you should go to book libraries or bookstores.
In book libraries or bookstores, you can talk to the workers and find out if there are other interesting places where you can buy books.
If you choose the wholesale method, I would also talk to the staff of a library or bookstore.
Of course, you can also research on Craigslist, Facebook or Google. I think you'll quickly find what you're looking for.
If you should decide on the online arbitrage, then I recommend the following market places to you (Source: OnlineSellingExperiment):
To sell on Amazon, you need to create a seller account.
The most important thing is to choose the right type of seller account:
The Individual Seller pays Amazon a fee of $1 per sale, while a Professional Seller pays $39.95 per month and no fee of $1 per sale.
If you sell more than 40 products per month, a professional Amazon seller account will pay for itself.
That's how you do it:
1. Go to Amazon
2. On the right side, next to the search field, you can register. If you don't have a normal Amazon account yet, create one.
3. Once you have logged in, your name will appear in the field next to the search box (see picture above). Now click on this field again to head over to.
4. Scroll down and click on the option "Your Seller Account".
5. You will be redirected to the next page. Click on "Start Selling".
6. Then you can create your Amazon Seller account. Now you have to decide if you want to have an individual or a professional seller account.
If you can afford it, I recommend creating a professional account right away, if not, then switch to one as soon as you can.
You can learn more here.
If you don't just want to get rid of your old books, but want to make a profit, then you will most likely lose track of the books you have bought to sell on Amazon.
You probably won't be able to remember how much money you spent on each book, so you won't know which books make a lot of money for you, and which books make no money.
You can't analyze and optimize your Amazon business exactly if you don't have the necessary insights.
Unless you are a mastermind and can remember everything, but I never was.
I recommend to evaluate all data of your business and derive measures for optimization.
On smartminded, I have been measuring user behavior since day one and continuously optimizing the user experience.
To analyze the costs and profits of your Amazon business there are a lot of tools.
Here are the best ones:
Jungle Scout's Sales Analytics tool organizes and tracks all your Amazon sales data in real-time so you can focus on profitable and cost-saving strategies an earn more money.
Price: Not available individually, $49 per month in package Jungle Scout (It's worth it!)
Your winnings are made up of multiple data, all of which play an important role in the overall profitability of your Amazon business.
Helium 10 Profits analyzes all data, both positive and negative. Finally, you need to minimize all the negative factors that cost you money.
With Helium 10 Profits you can get the maximum profit out of your Amazon business.
Price: Single $37 per month, otherwise in Platinum Plan $97 per month.
Fetcher is an app that integrates into your Amazon Seller account, helping you to understand Seller Central's data and track your winnings by entering the cost of each of your books - which you can't do in Seller Central.
Price: Starts from $19 per month
PS: Dave Hemrick of Jungle Scout claims that with Fetcher he can make 38% more profit per month.
Did you buy enough books? Then you have to list your books on Amazon for sale.
To do this, enter the ISBN of the book in the Amazon search bar. Then click on "Have one for sale".
You will be guided through a simple process where you have to provide some information about your book.
You must also provide information about the condition of your book. There are five possible conditions, which are explained below:
You can learn more here.
If you don't want to ship your books yourself, you have to use the FBA service.
In this case, you have to send your inventory to the nearest Amazon department store.
You can learn more about this reading my guide on how to sell on Amazon for beginners.
Here's also an article on how to ship to Amazon.
Once your books have reached the Amazon department store and as long as you have correctly rated your books on Amazon and selected only books with a low best-seller rank, your books should sell immediately.
From your first sale, you should track your profits with Jungle Scout, Helium 10 Profits or Fetcher.
With books, customer service is a bit easier than with normal products. Since you didn't write the books yourself, you don't have to worry about reviews.
But you can still increase your customer satisfaction by keeping in touch with your customers.
Above all, you must state the condition of the book correctly. If you indicate a better condition than the actual one, then you will probably get bad reviews.
Now is the time to scale your bookselling business. A good way to do this is social media.
This infographic shows the most popular social media channels for companies:
Of course, it would take too long to explain the individual advertising strategies in this article. I recently wrote an article about Amazon PPC.
And also, here are the best articles about Social Media Advertising:
If your book is the cheapest and you start collecting reviews, you will win the Buy Box more often and will be able to triple your sales.
With the BSR (Best Seller Rank) you can determine whether you offer a book for sale on Amazon or not.
All books that have a BSR of 100.000 or lower (99.999, 99.998) can be sold on Amazon.
Use Amazon FBA to outsource all logistics processes to Amazon.
If you buy books as part of a negotiation, then submit your offer at the end of the negotiation.
Most people don't want to deal with books and accept an extremely low price.
Students usually buy their textbooks at the last second. That's why you can sell textbooks 2-3 times more expensive via Prime, because students need a fast shipping.
If you don't want to spend money, look around your house for old books or look for people or places where books are given away.
Try to save your money at the beginning to build your business and move on to more profitable Amazon sales methods such as private labeling or Amazon Wholesale.
To finish this article, let's repeat the most important things learned:
And most importantly, keep in mind that you can launch a private label product when you have the budget.