If you want to make good money online, you need to know how to sell books on Amazon.
Amazon may be the largest online retailer now, but the company started out as a marketplace for new and used books.
In fact, CEO Jeff Bezos operated the “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore” straight out of his garage when Amazon opened for business in 1994.
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Three years later, the company carried 2.5 million titles and earned a whopping $148 million in 1997 alone.
Amazon sold books exclusively from its launch until 1999 when the company expanded into selling toys, electronics, tools, and hardware.
Even with the success of online bookstore chains like Barnes & Noble, choosing to sell books on Amazon remains a smart decision because Amazon continues to grow at an outstanding rate and more and more brick-and-mortar Amazon bookstores are popping up.
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3 Ways to Sell Books on Amazon
Amazon has been around for over two decades, so it’s no wonder the company has come up with different ways to accommodate various types of sellers.
If you want to sell books on Amazon, you have three options (each with varying steps to follow):
1. Amazon Trade-In
Technically, you’re not actually selling books on Amazon with the trade-in or buyback program. Instead, you are trading old books in exchange for Amazon gift cards.
To do this, you have to check if your books are currently being accepted in the trade-in program.
If they are, continue with your submission form and add more if you plan to trade in more books.
When ready, enter your address, print a pre-paid shipping label, and send in your items within 7 days free of charge.
The books will be sent to Amazon’s warehouse. You’ll be notified when your book is either accepted or denied.
If your items are denied, you’ll get your books back with no cost for return shipping.
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The trade-in value of your books will be significantly lower than what you paid for them, but really, anything is better than nothing for a book you will never touch again.
2. Kindle Direct Publishing
If you’re planning to write a book and want to sell it online, you don’t have to sign with a publishing house anymore. Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) gives anyone a chance to create, publish and sell your own books, ebooks and audiobooks on Amazon.
With KDP, you get to keep and control 100% of your book’s rights, which means you can make changes to the books any time you like and earn up to 70% of royalties.
Of course, the most obvious benefit of self-publishing via Amazon is that your book reaches the market quickly without additional expenses.
I’ve fully outlined the 5 step process on how to self-publish a book here. It’s a more in-depth guide than you’ll find on this page, so click through if this is the area you want to pursue.
3. Sell Books on Amazon for Cash
You don’t have to trade-in used books or publish your own books to take advantage of Amazon’s millions of potential buyers.
You can still sell books on Amazon, even if you didn’t author those books.
There are three ways you can do this:
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – You post a book for sale, but let Amazon handle the storage, shipping and post-sale customer support. Many beginner sellers choose this option until they get a solid fulfillment system in place.
- Fulfillment by merchant (FBM) – As an FBM seller, you handle everything from the storage of books, packing, shipping and customer service every time one of your items get sold.
- Amazon vendors (AMZ) – You sell all your books directly to Amazon. They will obviously be a lot cheaper, but if you just closed a brick-and-mortar bookstore and want to unload plenty of books, this is the fastest way possible.
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4 Step Guide to Selling Books on Amazon
Now that you know which kind of seller you’ll be (FBA, FBM or AMZ), it’s time to get started selling!
Step 1: Create a regular Amazon account, and a seller account
- Join Amazon. You’d have to be a member of Amazon to begin selling on the site. Registration is straightforward – enter e-mail address, create password, and all that jazz.
- Create Seller Account. Go to your Account and find “Your Other Accounts.” From there, you can create “Your Seller Account.”
- Decide on a selling plan. The Individual plan has no monthly subscription fee, but has a $0.99 as a per sale closing fee. You can also only sell up to 40 items each month. On the Professional plan, you’d have to shell out $39.99/month subscription fee plus per-item selling fees, but you get access to spreadsheets and other inventory-related reports.
- Enter payment information. To receive payment from the books sold, you need to enter a valid checking account under the “Account Info” and “Settings” tab of your sellers account. Edit the deposit method, select your bank’s country/location and make sure to enter the routing number as well. Amazon will send you a confirmation e-mail once it has verified the account with your bank.
Step 2. How to Sell Books on Amazon
- Find the title of the book you plan on selling. Click “Sell Your Stuff” on the main seller account page and type the title or ISBN into the search box. Tick the “Books” category, before clicking the “Start Selling” button. You can also search for a book normally (as any buyer would), visit the product page, and click the button that says “Sell on Amazon” to begin filling up your own book listing.
- If you can’t find the title on Amazon, list a new book title. If for some reason you can’t find the title of the book you want to sell on Amazon, you’ll be directed to a different form to begin a new listing. From there, you’ll have to enter all details about the book, including the complete title, author name/s, publisher information, and ISBN.
- Decide on a price. The easiest way to set the price of your book is to compare it with other listings. Beginner sellers often sell their books at a lower price so customers purchase theirs over other sellers’ copies.
- Enter book condition. If you’re selling a new book, you can do this portion quickly by just picking paperback or hardcover. But if your book is used, you have to describe the condition of your item (“Like New,” “Very Good,” “Good,” or “Acceptable”). Books with missing pages, ripped covers, or erased text fall under “Unacceptable” condition and cannot be sold on Amazon.
- Select the shipping method. If you chose the fulfilled-by-merchant (FBM) approach, you’ll decide everything about shipping and handling.
- Save your listing. Once you save your listing, the book will now be for sale on Amazon.
Step 3. Setup Fulfillment by Amazon
If you want to skip the handling, shipment and post-sale customer service, FBA is the way to go.
But the steps are a bit different from the regular way of selling books on Amazon. Sellers ship their books directly to one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers (FC).
Whenever a sale pushes through, Amazon packs and ships the book to the customer and handle complaints, returns, and other inquiries on your behalf.
- Convert any listing into FBA. You can change a regular listing into an FBA version by going to your account’s “Inventory” and clicking “Manage Inventory.” Choose the listing you wish to convert, check the box beside it, and click “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon” from the “Actions” pull-down menu. You will be directed to a new page, asked to “Convert” with a click of a button, and review your revamped listing. (Note that when you convert a regular listing, the original listing will be temporarily removed from Amazon. Don’t worry, since it will be back live once the book arrives at Amazon).
- Sending books to Amazon. You need to ship your book/s to the nearest Amazon fulfillment centers. Amazon will send you shipping instructions, along with PDF product/shipment labels for your books. Print and stick them to the package as instructed. You can use any courier, deliver them manually, or use Amazon’s discounted shipping to send the book to the fulfilment center… it’s totally your call.
- Check book status. Once Amazon receives your books, you don’t have to do anything else. You can check the status of your books, monitor listings, or just let Amazon do its thing and wait for notification when your book gets sold.
Step 4. Get Paid
The reason why you sell books on Amazon ultimately boils down to getting paid real cash.
All earnings you get from the sales (minus Amazon fees, outward shipping fees, and so on) will be listed in detail on your Seller Account.
If you wish to withdraw your funds, log-in to your Amazon Payments account, click “Withdraw Funds” tab, and select a bank account from the drop-down menu. You need to enter the amount you want to transfer to your bank account. Finish by pressing the “Continue” button.
How much money can you make selling books on Amazon?
Given that there are three distinct methods outlined above, the amount of money you can make selling books on Amazon varies wildly.
For trading in books, you’re limited to what you have to sell from around your house. Textbooks are going to fetch the most amount of money, and even then, you’re selling them for about 10-15% of what you paid. Still, that’s better than letting them sit and collect dust forever.
As for Kindle Direct Publishing, the sky is the limit here. You’re selling a digital product and are in control of pricing, but you’re also responsible for the marketing and sales as well.
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Finally, reselling books. This is the area you’ll want to focus on if you want to make serious money in this space. Start hitting up used book stores and garage/yard sales for stacks of books.
Scan the UPC codes and see how much they’re currently listed on at Amazon. You can quite easily find books that sell for 2x, 5x, and even 20x what you pay for them. Granted you need the right buyer, but with enough inventory, you can pull in a few extra thousand per month.
The Future of Book Selling on Amazon
Jumping into any kind of business not backed by research is dangerous, so if you plan to sell books on Amazon, but was worried about the future of this venture, consider these:
Selling on Amazon is still a lucrative business because it is home to a market that buys.
About 310 million book buyers are active on Amazon.
These customers accounted for a whopping $178 billion in sales in just one year.
Whether you’re on the verge of self-publishing, or launching your own online business, it’s hard to deny that partnering with Amazon continues to be a safe business model.
However, Amazon is in control of service fees and future policy changes, whether you like it or not.
As a book seller on Amazon, you’d have to agree to the changes or look to sell somewhere else.
For example, when Amazon upped the FBA fees, about 10% of book sellers stopped shipping their products to Amazon.
Will you be willing to comply when changes like these happen in the future?
Before you pour your heart out selling books on Amazon, weigh these pros and cons carefully.