How To Make Money Selling Books On Amazon In 2021

Sign of Amazon Books store in New York City

If you’re new to the e-commerce world, you’ve probably decided that you’d like to become a seller on Amazon. On top of that, it’s possible you’ve heard about how profitable selling books on the platform can be. Maybe you’ve got a lot of used books lying around or you’d like to source new ones to try and resell them on Amazon Marketplace. Either way, we’ve put together this article as a sort of guide on how to sell books! 

How To Sell Used Books On Amazon

We’ll start with selling used books on Amazon Marketplace. This is perfect for those of you who are avid collectors. You might even have a whole library of books lying around that you need to get off of your hands. Also, it’s great for getting your foot in the door for the world of bookselling on Amazon. 

Used books sign
Used books are a great way to get started as an Amazon seller.

Before you get started selling your books, you need to ask yourself a few things. First of all, how do you plan on fulfilling your orders? Secondly, what type of seller do you want to be on Amazon? And thirdly, are you going to source extra inventory after you run out of your first batch of used books? Let’s guide you through these things as there’s some nuance when it comes to selling on Amazon. 

Fulfilling Orders

On Amazon, there are two methods that you can use to fulfill your orders: Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). To put it simply, FBM means that you’ll be handling the shipping and delivering yourself while using FBA means you’d be letting Amazon handle all of that. But which one should I choose? You might ask. Here are some pointers to help you answer that yourself. 

When thinking about going the FBM route, you should be confident that you can cover all of the shipping costs that come with this route. Additionally, this is the type of fulfillment we recommend if you have a fairly small stock. That being said, if you have a lot of books, a good storage space, and prefer handling logistics yourself, then FBM is a good route to take. 

FBA is an excellent method to use if you have a lot of stock, expect a lot of orders, and don’t want to worry about things like storage and having to ship items by yourself. But how does that work? Well, with this service you can actually take your items to the nearest FBA warehouse and store them there. Then, when Amazon receives an order for one of your books, it will pick up the package and ship it for you! 

It should be noted that the Amazon FBA service isn’t free, there are some fees that you have to pay.  These FBA fees amount to things like long-term storage fees, closing fees, normal storage fees, referral fees, and fees based on the size of your packages or items. The tradeoff here is that you won’t need to pay any extra shipping costs but will have to deal with Amazon fees. It’s good to weigh your options and see which fulfillment method will be more lucrative for you. 

The Types of Amazon Seller Accounts 

Whether you’ve decided to use FBM or FBA, your next step in creating your book-selling business on Amazon is deciding what kind of seller account you’d like. There are two types of accounts that you can create: An individual seller’s account and a professional seller’s account. 

The difference between these two accounts is kind of similar to deciding between FBM or FBA. With an individual seller account, then you won’t be shipping out any big orders. The reason is that individual sellers cannot sell more than 40 products per month. Therefore, we recommend this account for people with low stock, amateur sellers, or if you’re selling as a way to make some extra money or want a new side hustle. Additionally, you will be paying $.99 every time an order is sold, along with some other fees. 

Professional sellers, on the other hand, do not have any limitations on how many products that they can sell every month. Instead, they have a monthly fee they have to pay of $39.99. There are, of course, selling fees on top of this monthly cost as well. However, if you plan on making your book-selling a full-time business, or have a large stock of books, this account is perfect for you. It all depends on the business model you’re shooting for!

Sourcing Extra Books 

After reading through those paragraphs about fulfillment and seller accounts, you may have come to the conclusion as to how seriously you’ll be taking your book-selling. If you’ve decided you’d like to make this an actual business, then you’re no doubt wondering where you can source books from.

Of course, you can always use your own old books that are sitting on your bookshelf. However, if you’re a book lover then chances are you don’t want to sell all of your precious tomes. So this now begs the question, what are the best types of books to sell and where can I get them? 

As an amateur bookseller, we don’t recommend worrying about finding the right kind of niche category immediately. Instead, you’ll want to try a wide variety of different book types to find out which niche is the most profitable and accessible for you. That being said, we can recommend some categories later that are safe bets which have proven to sell well. 

Starting off, we highly recommend looking at local book sales for interesting and well-kept volumes. There are plenty of places that do book sales if you do your research, especially places like local libraries, thrift stores, or estate sales. It can help to bring some sort of ISBN or barcode (UPC) scanner with you on these trips to see what the pricing is on a particular book. It’s kind of like panning for gold! 

Another method is something known as online arbitrage or retail arbitrage. Essentially, if you don’t feel like going from book sale to book sale, you can look on websites and retailers other than Amazon for books that have a lower price. You can then buy a bunch of them and then list them on Amazon at a higher or their original price.  

But what if you’re looking to buy lots of books all at once? Well, we have a solution for you. Bulk purchasing of books can be done by looking on websites like eBay, CraigsList, and even Facebook Marketplace. Here you can find lots of people who are willing to get rid of a large number of books for a relatively cheap price. Some sellers may even be willing to do trade-ins. 

To add to that, sometimes people on such websites will just straight up give away their books. This can be a great way to snag something that has more value than people realize. However, there is a catch to this. Sometimes people will give away lots of books, knowing that they have no value. Therefore, always do your research

Selling the Right Kind of Books on Amazon

Now that you know where you can find books to sell, it’s time to talk about selling the right kinds. It’s very easy to find books that you can list on Amazon, but it’s more important to find ones that will sell well. Therefore, we’ve got a few tricks for you that will help you in your quest for best-sellers. 

Something you can do on Amazon is check the book’s “Best-Seller Ranking.” On the book’s store page, near the product page, you’ll find this ranking. Not only will it show you how it ranks in the general category of books, but it will show you how high it ranks in different sub-categories. There are even links to see the top 100 best-selling books on Amazon. 

Obviously, a book with a high sales rank will sell easily. But what’s a high enough ranking that the book will sell quickly? After all, you don’t want it sitting around gathering dust for too long. Generally speaking, we recommend selling books that have a ranking that’s lower than 100,000. These books tend to sell within 24 hours of being listed. 

What Categories of Books Sell the Best on Amazon? 

Now that you know the strategies for sourcing your books and for selling the right kinds of books, we now need to talk about the categories of books that sell the best. We’ll be talking about categories that we have found to work the best, especially for amateur sellers. This list should give you a good entry point so you can branch into other categories.

Textbooks

Textbooks are something that is always in high demand. You will find that these books will have some of the highest prices during the beginning of fall and the spring. College students and textbook distributors will essentially be chomping at the bit in an effort to get their required texts for a course. 

Open hardback and textbook stacked on the table on blackboard background
Brand new college textbooks can be quite pricey so there’s always a demand for used or older editions.

Additionally, even the older editions of these books can be sold for a pretty high price. However, you may need to double-check that the older editions are still usable for certain classes. Additionally, some publishers like to make sure that third-party sellers can’t sell new or used copies in a process called “brand gating.” 

Nice Books

If you’re looking for a category that has a relatively low amount of competition, niche books are right for you. The thing that makes these special is that they are out of print books and are usually part of larger collections. These can effectively be considered collecter’s items by some and can fetch a nice price. 

Comic Books

This might come as a surprise to some, but you can actually sell comics on Amazon! Single issue comics, collections, as well as full graphic novels generally sell well on the platform and are a great way to make money. This is doubly true if you have some sort of collector’s issue on hand. 

Collectible Books

This is the type of book that people would pay a lot of money to have. Things like first editions, signed copies, or maybe even some sort of misprint. A collectible version of a very popular book can net you a lot of money on the Amazon market! 

Non-Fiction Books

For some reason, non-fiction books tend to sell better than fictions books on Amazon. It’s not like people don’t like fiction books on Amazon, but there definitely seems to be a higher demand for non-fiction books for some reason. There’s still a good market for fiction books, but non-fiction is an easier market to get into. 

Hardcover Books

As you might expect, the hardcover versions of books have a higher price than their paperback counterparts. Because they’re more durable, they tend to stay valuable over time. If you have any of these lying around, be sure to sell them first. 

What Books Should I Avoid Selling? 

As you might expect, there are also books you should avoid selling if you’re just starting out. These books generally do not sell well for a variety of reasons. We’ll give you a glimpse into these categories and why we think they should be avoided. 

Children’s Books

The big thing about children’s books is their low prices and competitive market. Because people don’t hang onto these books for very long, along with their low prices, it’s very difficult to turn a profit on them. Additionally, their market is quite competitive so it’s just not something you should concern yourself with unless you know how to sell them well. 

Cookbooks

Cookbooks just don’t sell well on the Amazon Market. There’s not really a definitive reason behind this but there are some speculations. For one, it’s possible that there’s not really a need for cookbooks since people can just look up recipes with a simple Google search. 

Mass Market Paperbacks

These are the types of books you’ll see all over the place. They’re generally small enough to fit into a purse or even a pocket. They’re extremely popular, have a lot of competition, and have very low sales prices. It’s not worth trying to make a profit on these, even major publishers tend to sell these at a loss due to the low-profit margins! 

New and Popular Books

Selling new books on the market is generally an awful idea. The reason is that popular books are sold by Amazon, more often than not. Therefore, you’ll have to compete with Amazon itself! It will be very tough to beat their prices and it’s just too much of a hassle to go toe to toe with them on their own platform. 

Final Thoughts

Selling books on Amazon does not have to be a complicated process. Whether you’re treating this as more of a hobby, or want to turn it into a serious business, there’s plenty of room to make a good income. All you need is the right information and the willingness to put in enough effort to start selling! Before you know it, you’ll be making a lot of money with your Amazon business in no time.

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