Sell Books

How to Sell Books on Amazon in 2022: Step-by-Step Guide

You can sell common book formats such as hardcovers, paperbacks, or ebooks on Amazon. Whether you want to list and sell books from your brick-and-mortar store, resell non-fiction books you've already read, part with beloved comic books, list rare hardcover collectibles, or get rid of children's books, you don't need to look any further.

Summary

Selling books online can be a nice income stream—or the start of a profitable online business. Whether you’re considering selling those Jane Austen books gathering dust, children’s books the kids in your life no longer read, or even your original ebook ready for the world, selling books on Amazon is a great place to start. Amazon.com is a popular store, and with the seller tools available, you can start selling in a matter of hours. Whether you’re looking to sell new or used volumes, specific titles, or certain genres, our step-by-step guide will help set you up for success.

Why sell books on Amazon?

People love to read books. Even with all of today’s competing entertainment mediums, books are thankfully still in demand. While you may have other options to consider when it comes to selling your books online, here are a few benefits booksellers on Amazon enjoy:
  • Get started with just a few books (no need for a large inventory)
  • Choose from a wide variety of genre categories
  • Sell books for cash or credit
  • You choose how to fulfill orders
    • Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) – Is the DIY Route. List books on Amazon, then pack and ship orders to customers yourself. (This is often referred to informally as Fulfillment by Merchant or FBM.)
    • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – Is the Do It For Me Route. List books and have Amazon store, pack, and ship to customers for you
  • Sell books multiple ways—by title, ISBN, weight, or by scanning the barcode
Selling books on Amazon can be a reasonably straightforward process, with no need to worry about building a website or creating an online order system. Using Amazon’s seller tools, you can get started relatively quickly and with less overhead.

Did you know?

Amazon began by selling books

In 1994, founder Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com as an online book store. It eventually grew into the selling site we know today—not bad for a business with humble beginnings right out of a garage, right?

What types of books can you sell on Amazon?

You can sell common book formats such as hardcovers, paperbacks, or ebooks on Amazon. Whether you want to list and sell books from your brick-and-mortar store, resell non-fiction books you've already read, part with beloved comic books, list rare hardcover collectibles, or get rid of children's books, you don't need to look any further.

Keep in mind some books sell better than others. Doing your research to find high-demand books can pay off. The Best Sellers in Books list can help you find popular current titles based on sales.

Here are popular book types you can sell on Amazon:

Sell new books online

Some customers love the feeling of holding a brand new book in their hands. You can typically find new books through wholesalers, distributors, or publishers. If you want to sell new books, however, be aware you may need to purchase large quantities in bulk.

Sell used books online

Secondhand books are generally easier to find, cheaper to acquire, and could be more profitable if you find good deals locally or online. You can sell used books right off your shelf, but you can also find them at local used book stores, thrift shops, or estate sales. You can also check online marketplaces, local library sales, and even find books at your neighborhood yard sale.

Sell textbooks online

Do you have used college textbooks taking up space? If they’re in good condition, you can get them off your shelf and make a little cash by selling them on Amazon. Be sure to list accurate details about the book's condition. Peak times for textbook sales are typically in the spring and fall of each year.

Sell books without an ISBN

A book's International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a registration code you can find inside the dust jacket or on the barcode. If the book was printed before 1970, it might not have an ISBN. If this is the case, you can request an exemption.

Sell collectible or rare books online

Antique and vintage books can be an attractive niche market for literature lovers. Due to the nature of older collectible books, it's vital to list each book’s condition honestly. While you may be able to sell your collectible first edition print copy of The Great Gatsby on Amazon, you can also list it on niche selling websites catering to rare and unique books and collectibles, like AbeBooks.com.

Sell ebooks online

Ready to sell your ebook online and reach a global audience? Consider self-publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). With KDP, you maintain control of your rights, set your prices, make changes anytime, and earn royalty on sales.

7 steps to selling your book on Amazon

Here are seven steps to help you sell your books on Amazon.

Step 1: Decide what type of books you want to sell

Although there are various ways to find books to sell, the simplest way to begin is generally to sell books you already have.

You can also build your inventory through the following channels:
  • Wholesale: Buy in bulk for lower prices online or at bookstore closings. You can also procure new books in larger quantities from distributors or publishers. You may not have total control over what you get, but you can get more books at wholesale costs.
  • Local sources: Find used books by browsing local library book sales, used book stores, yard sales, and thrift shops. You may also discover collectible books at estate sales.
  • Auctions: Seek out auctions, estate sales, or farm sales selling used or collectible books.
In the process of procuring your books, it's essential to evaluate each one’s condition. Follow Amazon's detailed condition guidelines when listing your books. Be sure to read over the category-specific guidelines for new and used books, as well as for niche items like collectible books.

Step 2: Create your Amazon seller account

Decide if you want to register as an individual seller or a professional seller. The main differences have to do with benefits and fees.
  • The Individual selling plan is a pay-as-you-go plan that provides access to basic listing and order management tools. You can create listings one at a time by matching products to existing pages or creating new pages in the Amazon catalog. You don't pay fees to Amazon unless an item sells, so it’s a good starting point for entrepreneurs new to online selling.
  • The Professional selling plan gives you access to advanced selling tools for a monthly subscription fee. Unlike the individual selling plan, you pay a monthly fee regardless of whether you list or sell anything (instead of a per-item fee—although both plans pay referral fees on items sold). The Professional selling plan gives you access to inventory tools to upload batch files and manage your orders through feeds and reports. These tools are especially beneficial to medium- to large businesses.
Compare selling plans to determine which option is best for you.

Once you pick a plan, consider using this handy cost calculator to estimate your per-unit sales margin. Once you're ready, set up your Amazon seller account. This will allow you to start selling on Amazon. It will also give you access to the Seller Central dashboard, where you can list products, manage your inventory, and fulfill orders.

Step 3: Decide how you will fulfill orders

Do you want to handle inventory, packing, and shipping on your own? Or would you rather have Amazon do all this for you? As an ecommerce seller on Amazon, you have two choices to fulfill orders:
  • Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) – You store inventory, pack, and ship books independently.
  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – You ship books to an Amazon Fulfillment Center, and they do the rest for you. FBA includes storage, packing, shipping, customer service, and returns. Using FBA to ship your products is also the easiest way to get the Prime badge for most offers. Many Amazon customers look for products with the Prime badge because it represents fast, free shipping.

Step 4: Set your book pricing

Book pricing depends on a variety of variables, including book type and condition. Monitor the prices other booksellers are asking for, and adjust your prices accordingly. You can always go back in and change the price at any time. Here are some top factors that can influence book prices:
  • What condition is the book in?
  • Is the book new or used?
  • Is the book a collectible (such as a first edition)?
Don't forget to take packing and shipping costs into account when you set your pricing.

Did you know?

You can automatically manage pricing on Amazon

While pricing is something you can learn more about and adjust over time, there’s an easy way to manage it through the Seller Central dashboard.
  • The Automated Pricing Tool lets you automatically adjust prices for your available inventory based on your pricing rules and preferences.
  • The Match Low Price feature helps you match the lowest price with the click of a button
This tool helps you quickly and easily match the current lowest prices on Amazon for specific products.

Step 5: List your books on Amazon

A simple way to list books for sale is to go right to the product page and look up the titles for the books you want to list. Follow these steps:
  • Type the book's ISBN code into Amazon's search bar. If the book was printed before 1970, enter the title manually.
  • Once on the product listing page, click the "Sell on Amazon" button.
  • Enter the SKU. This can be an SKU of your choice, or if you leave it blank, Amazon will generate one for you.
  • Select your price. To match the lowest price, simply click that button.
  • Enter the total quantity. The default is one unit.
  • Choose the condition. It's vital to be 100% honest about the quality of each book.
  • Select your fulfillment channel (MFN or FBA).

Learn the lingo:

ISBN, SKU, and ASIN

ISBN: International Standard Book Number

An ISBN is a unique bar code for each published book. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency. Authors that self-publish on Amazon will automatically be issued an ISBN for each book.

SKU: Stock Keeping Unit

SKU is a unique number to help a business keep track of inventory. ISBNs are also a type of SKU.

ASIN: Amazon Standard Identification Number

An ASIN is a unique number that is assigned to all Amazon product listings automatically. ASINs are 10 alphanumeric digits long and start with "B0".

Step 6: Promote and market your books

Now it's time to think about promoting your bookselling business.

Take advantage of Amazon tools

If you’re selling books, check out Amazon's Seller University for free training videos to help you learn the basics of sales, selling tools, advertising, and promotions. You can help grow your business, drive sales, and measure the effectiveness of your ads with Amazon Advertising. Check out the Advertising Learning Console to learn more.

If you're an author, promote your own published books on Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Promote your online book business on social media

Social media can be a powerful tool for increasing your business exposure and strategically targeting customers who want to buy the types of books you're selling. Find out where your audience hangs out and get the word out on the social media platforms they’re using.

Pay attention to reviews

When you're selling books you didn't write, you might not take book reviews personally. But you will want to monitor your Amazon reviews about products and customer service.

Good reviews go a long way when it comes to building confidence in your online brand. Here are a few tips to help you earn positive feedback:
  • Be honest about item condition
  • Ship orders on time
  • Respond to customer inquiries quickly
  • If issues arise, solve them as soon as possible
If you’re a professional seller, good reviews also increase your product’s chances of being listed as the featured offer (the first option on the yellow “Buy” button on Amazon’s shopping website).

Step 7: Pack and ship your books

Preparation is essential to getting your books to their destination securely. Remember, happy customers are repeat customers!

How you handle shipping depends on which fulfillment method you choose.

Fulfilling orders with the FBA method

Fulfilling orders with the MFN method

  • Manage orders from your seller account.
  • Pack books securely.
  • Get your packing slip ready and printed. Amazon will generate a PDF product and shipment label (see print a packing slip).
  • Send your package using the carrier of your choice. Note you can use Amazon's discounted shipping to send to a fulfillment center.
  • Confirm the order (see how to confirm a shipment).

Buy Shipping services

If you’re fulfilling your own orders, consider using Amazon's Buy Shipping services. Here you can buy shipping labels, ship, confirm, and track orders all in one place, using Amazon’s trusted network of shipping carriers. If you opt-in for this service, you don't need to confirm shipment—confirmation is automatic.

7 quick tips for selling your books online

To increase your chances of success in building an online business and selling your books, follow these best practices:

#1 - Research which genres and categories sell best on Amazon

Do your research on what types of books sell well. It will take some time to discover a sweet spot between the books you can find to resell and those people are looking to buy, but it will be worth the extra effort. Look at Amazon’s annual best seller’s lists to spot patterns on popular books to sell online.

#2 - Check a book's Best Seller Ranking

As a bookseller, get the highest return on your investment by listing high-demand books. Checking a book’s Best Seller Ranking (BSR) is a good place to start. Nearly every product on Amazon is awarded a number once an item has had at least one sale. The better it sells, the lower the number. The BSR is a good indicator of how well an item is currently selling in a comparable category. To find a book's BSR, locate the book, scroll down to the product description, and you'll find the number listed there.

#3 - Be 100% honest about the condition of your books

Build trust with customers by being completely transparent about the condition of each book. Generally, you can choose from these categories:
  • New
  • Like new
  • Very good
  • Good
  • Acceptable
Collectibles and hardcovers with dust jackets have additional conditions. Be sure to familiarize yourself with Amazon's condition guidelines for books.

#4 - Take care when packing and shipping

Follow all shipping guidelines and pack books securely, so orders reach customers in excellent condition.

Books can get a fair bit of abuse during shipping, but several measures can help ensure orders arrive in tip-top shape:
  • Use multiple packing materials. Appropriate packaging could involve a combination of bags, Kraft paper, or bubble wrap.
  • Protect book corners, edges, and dust jackets.
  • When shipping more than one book, consider wrapping each one individually or using single book boxes for protection. For multiple books, you can place pieces of flat cardboard between each book.
  • Books should fit snugly in the padded envelope or box, so there’s little wiggle room.

#5 - Always fulfill your orders on time

If you’re shipping items directly to customers, help instill trust and increase your chances for repeat sales by delivering products on time and in the best condition possible.

#6 - Keep your prices competitive

Monitor prices in the categories and titles you list for sale in order to stay competitive and boost sales.

#7 - Monitor your sales performance

Faithfully manage your orders and stay on top of sales to track performance. Check out the numerous business tools Amazon offers, including helpful guides such as the Ecommerce Business Guide and Build an Online Store on Amazon. These resources will help you learn how to monitor feedback and performance and grow your online store.

FAQ

Is selling books online profitable?
Selling books online can be a lucrative side gig or a profitable business venture. Here are a few benefits of selling books online:
  • There’s money to be made as an online bookseller.
  • You have no sales constraints—sell as much or as little as you want.
  • Convenience for you and the buyer—no traffic, no lines, and you're always open.
  • Offer a wide variety of titles, authors, and genres.
What does it cost to sell books on Amazon?
Amazon's selling plans give you the option to pay per sale (Individual selling plan) or a flat monthly fee (Professional selling plan). You can decide which option is best for you based on your business model. For books, the referral fee is 15% plus a $1.80 closing fee. Collectible books are a flat 15%. Shipping costs depend on whether you choose to pack and ship items yourself (MFN) or use FBA. If you choose to fulfill orders on your own, there are guidelines for rates for books, music, video, and DVD (BMVD) items and Amazon's Buy Shipping services.
Can I sell my books on Amazon?
Yes, Amazon is a great way to sell books of many different kinds online. If you're a published author, it's also a great way to get your work in the hands of millions of people.
Can I sell books on Amazon for free?
No, there are fees associated with selling books through Amazon and gaining access to millions of online customers, including over 150 million Amazon Prime members. When you sell on Amazon, you have a choice between a pay-as-you-sell Individual selling plan or a Professional selling plan, where you pay a flat monthly fee. Amazon also collects a referral fee on each sale, which is a percentage of the total transaction and varies by product category. Learn more about selling plans here.
What happened to Amazon Book Trade-In?
Amazon no longer accepts trade-in books. You can sell your used books on Amazon through a seller account. Search Amazon's trade-in store to see what types of items are eligible for trade-in.
What types of books can I sell on Amazon?
You can sell new books, used books, collectible books, comic books, and more in a wide variety of different genres. If your books don’t have an ISBN, you can also sell books by title, helping you turn your old used books into cash.
What is an acceptable condition for books?
You can use specific definitions to describe the condition of a book on Amazon. This description helps manage customer expectations. Reference these condition guidelines and requirements when listing a book.
What are the fees for selling books on Amazon?
Amazon's selling plans give you a choice to pay per sale (individual selling plan) or a flat monthly fee (professional selling plan). For books, the referral fee is 15% plus a $1.80 closing fee. Collectible books are a flat 15%. Shipping costs depend on whether you choose to pack and ship items yourself (FBM) or use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). If you choose to fulfill orders on your own, there are guidelines for shipping rates for books, music, video, and DVD (BMVD) items and Amazon's Buy Shipping services.
Should I only sell my books on Amazon?
You’re not limited to selling your books from only one website. However, if you choose to sell via multiple sales channels, be careful to stay on top of your inventory and manage sales accordingly.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Amazon for selling books over the internet?
A few of the benefits of selling books via Amazon include:
  • Gain access to the Amazon’s 300 million customers worldwide
  • Acquire Amazon tools and business resources to optimize sales, grow your business, and build your customer base.
  • Services like Fulfillment by Amazon help with storing inventory, making sales, shipping orders, and receiving returns so you can free up your resources and focus on running your business.
A few potential challenges may include:
  • You will have to stay competitive with your pricing and customer service to set your brand apart from the competition of other sellers who already cater to the millions of shoppers who visit Amazon every month.
  • Access to selling on Amazon comes with required fees, which can vary depending on how you choose to sell and ship.
Is selling books on Amazon a good idea?
Selling books on Amazon is a great idea! Whether you’re looking to make some space on your shelves or launch a bookselling business, you can tailor your approach to your sales goals.
Ready to get started?
Get in front of millions of monthly shoppers on Amazon. Compare selling plans to figure out which program is best for your business, or sign up.

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