How To Sell Books On Amazon: The Definitive Guide

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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 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.

Amazon Books


But why am I telling you this? There's a reason for that. You can make money selling books on Amazon.

Selling books on Amazon can be a very good idea, especially if you are thinking about selling your 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 order your first private label products.

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.

So it doesn't matter if you just want to get rid of a few old books or start a real Amazon business.

The sale of books pays off in any case.

In this guide, I will explain to you exactly how you can sell books profitably on Amazon.

These are the contents of this guide:

  • Why you should sell books on Amazon
  • How to find books you can sell at Amazon
  • The step-by-step process to profitably sell books on Amazon
  • 7 tips to sell books at Amazon

Let dive into it.

How To Sell Books on Amazon: 4 Reasons why you Should Sell Books on Amazon

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. The others want to sell professionally on Amazon, and are dealing with the idea of selling books.

No matter what reason you have. This section deals with four REALLY good reasons why you should sell books on Amazon.

Reason 1: The demand for books

These times, there are E-Books, digital magazines, and almost everyone is looking for information on Wikipedia, rather than in an encyclopedia.

One might think that the demand for books has dropped dramatically in recent years.

According to Google Trends, this is not the case. In fact, interest in books increased in recent years (2006-present).

Okay, from 2004 to 2006, interest has dropped by almost 30%. But from 2006 to today it has risen by almost 20%.


Looking at the worldwide interest in books becomes very interesting.



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. The net turnover in the US book sector in 2019 is USD 25.82 billion. USD 10.28 billion 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.

Reason 2: Amazon is a good marketplace to sell books

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:

  • Amazon turnover 2019: 232.9 billion USD
  • Amazon Monthly traffic: 209.7 Mio.
  • Active customer accounts: 300 million

Also: Amazon is the largest online marketplace for products worldwide.

Let's take a look at how interest in books on Amazon has developed since 2004.

Although the worldwide interest in books on Amazon has not increased significantly, it is at the same level as about 10 years ago.

In fact, the demand is huge!

Reason 3: Amazon makes your life easier

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:

  • Access to Amazon's complete logistics network
  • Picking, packing and shipping of products as soon as a sale has been made
  • customer services such as returns, complaints, etc. on behalf of a vendor
  • FBA products are qualified for Amazon Prime, which will increase sales of your products enormously

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.

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Reason 4: You can easily win the BuyBox

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.

Buy Box snap

Not every seller can win the Buy Box. Only sellers with excellent reviews have the chance to win the Buy Box and thus increase their sales tenfold.

If you are the cheapest seller (and you have a good seller rating), it will be very easy for you to win the Amazon BuyBox.

Winning the BuyBox will skyrocket your sales!

Here you can learn more about the Amazon BuyBox.

Find books to sell on Amazon

Method #1 to find books to sell on Amazon: Search offline for books

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: Make money on Amazon in 2020.

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 book.

Such places are, for example:

  • Bookstores (often offer heavily discounted books as well)
  • Book flea markets (Here you have to pay attention to the quality)
  • Libraries

My tip:

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 the book topic.

Once you've found some good places to buy books, proceed as follows:

  1. Use the Amazon Seller App to scan heavily-reduced books
  2. Buy any book that makes a $3 profit after deducting fees and shipping costs. (To calculate these costs, you can use this Amazon FBA Calculator, but also the Amazon Seller app provides a calculator to check your margin.)
  3. Offer your products for sale on Amazon

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.

Method #2 to find books to sell on Amazon: Wholesale

That's another way to find books for sale 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.

To buy books this way, you visit farm sales, real estate sales or bookstore closings.

At such events, you can always get very good goods for very little money.

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 book.

Method #3 to find books to sell on Amazon: Online Arbitrage

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.

Examples of such marketplaces are, for example:

  • eBay
  • Craigslist
  • Letgo

You can find an article about Online Arbitrage here.

How you can sell books on Amazon: The step-by-step process

Step 1: Choose a method

The first thing you have to do is choose a method.

Choose a method based on the following criteria:

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.

Step 2: Buy books

Once you have decided on a method, you must find a source. So where do you get the books from?

Once you have decided on the offline method, you should go to book libaries or bookstores.

In book libaries 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):

  • Walmart
  • Sams Club
  • Home Depot
  • Target
  • Lowes
  • JCPenney
  • Office Depot
  • Kohls
  • Kmart
  • Sears
  • Best Buy
  • Big Lots
  • Shopko
  • Bloomingdales
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Sierra Trading Post
  • CVS
  • Walgreens
  • Frys
  • Gamestop
  • Herbergers

Step 3: Create an Amazon Seller Account

To sell on Amazon, you need to create a seller account. I have already written a very detailed article about creating an Amazon Seller account.

The most important thing is to choose the right type.

There are the following types:

  • Individual sellers
  • Professional seller

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.

AMazon Sign In


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".Amazon Seller Account 

5. You will be redirected to the next page. Click on "Start Selling".

Bildschirmfoto 2019 11 17 um 09.11.49


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.

You can learn more here.

Step 4: Use a tool to analyze costs and profits

If you don't just want to ged 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. You don't have the necessary insights.

Unless you are a mastermind and can remember everything, but I never was.

My recommendation is 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.

In the following I want to introduce you to the three best tools:

Jungle Scout Sales Analytics

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 so you can earn more money.

Price: Not available individually, $49 per month in package Jungle Scout (It's worth it!)

Helium 10 Profits

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

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.

Step 5: Put your books on Amazon

You bought enough books? Then you have to list your books on Amazon now. You can scan your books automatically (Variant A), or list them manually on Amazon (Variant B).

To do this (Variant B), enter the ISBN of the book in the Amazon search bar. Then click on "Have one for sale".

How To Sell Books on Amazon 

Then you can list your books on Amazon for sale, for that you have to specify the state of your book. There are five possible states, which are explained below:

Buecher auf Amazon verkaufen

You can learn more here.

Step 6: Use Amazon FBA to sell your books

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.

I found a good article here.

Step 7: Analyze your costs and profits

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.

We already discussed why this is important in step 4.

Step 8: Provide good customer service

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.

You can use a e-mail automation to do this. You can set up such e-mail automation with Jungle Scout Launch or Helium 10 Follow-Up.

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. 

Step 9: Use Social Media

Now is the time to scale your Amazon business. A good to do this is social media.

This infographic shows the most popular social media channels for companies.

Social Media Ads


Of course, it would take too long to explain the individual advertising strategies in this article.

I recently wrote an article about Amazon PPC.

Here I have linked the best articles about Social Media Advertising:

Sell books at Amazon: The best tips

Tip #1

If your book is the cheapest on Amazon, you will win the BuyBox and your sales will increase tenfold.

Tip #2

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 200,000 or lower (199,999, 199,998) can be sold on Amazon.

Tip #3

Use Amazon FBA to outsource all logistics processes to Amazon.

Tip #4

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.

Tip #5

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 depend on fast shipping.

Tip #6

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.

Tip #7

At the beginning try to save your money to build your business and introduce more profitable Amazon sales methods like private labeling or Amazon wholesale.

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