Sell Books

How to Sell Books Online in 2023: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn how to sell hardcovers, paperbacks, or ebooks in the Amazon store.
Selling books online can be a nice income stream—or the start of a profitable online business. Whether you want to list and sell books from your brick-and-mortar store, get rid of children’s books or comic books, list rare hardcover collectibles, or even self-publish a book you wrote yourself, you can get started to reach readers around the globe.

You can sell hardcovers, paperbacks, or ebooks through websites like Amazon. We’ll cover ecommerce tools available to help you increase sales and sell new books, sell back your books, or specialize in specific titles and genres. You’ll also find details on how to sell books in the Amazon store.

Why sell books on online?

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 to selling books online:
  • 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
  • Sell books multiple ways—by title, ISBN, weight, or by scanning the barcode
Selling books online can be a reasonably straightforward process, with no need to worry about building a website or creating an online order system. If you sell in the Amazon store and leverage 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 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 online?

You can sell common book formats such as hardcovers, paperbacks, or ebooks. Generally, you can choose from these categories:
  • New
  • Like new
  • Very good
  • Good
  • Acceptable
Here are some other popular options:

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 selling websites, local library sales, and even find books at your neighborhood yard sale.

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 in order to sell it in the Amazon store.

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 in the Amazon store, you can also list it on niche selling websites catering to rare and unique books and collectibles, like

Sell ebooks online

Ready to share your masterpiece with the world? Consider self-publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). With KDP, you can maintain control of your rights, set your prices, make changes anytime, and earn royalty on sales.

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 online. Be sure to list accurate details about the book's condition. If you want to sell textbooks in the Amazon store, check these guidelines for selling textbooks on Amazon.

Pro Tip

Consider bundling related textbooks

If you have multiple textbooks related to the same subject, consider selling them as a bundle. This can appeal to buyers looking for all the materials they need for a particular course.

7 steps to selling books online

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, be sure to evaluate each one’s condition. Check the condition guidelines of any selling site you use. For example, Amazon has detailed condition guidelines for listing books as well as category-specific guidelines for new and used books, and niche items like collectible books.

Step 2: Create your ecommerce bookstore

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.

You may want to set up your own website to sell books online, or you might find it easier to create an ecommerce storefront and reach a wider audience more efficiently. If you want to take the Amazon route, choose from two selling plan options to reach hundreds of millions of online customers.

Step 3: Figure out how you’ll fulfill orders

How you handle shipping depends on which fulfillment method you choose. You can ship textbooks yourself, or use a fulfillment solution like Fulfillment by Amazon. FBA offers the convenience of storing your textbooks and handling shipping and customer service for you.

Do you want to handle inventory, packing, and shipping on your own? 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.
  • 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.

If you’re an Amazon seller, you can use this handy cost calculator to estimate your per-unit sales margin.

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 books for sale

You can list books one at a time, or upload all your inventory at once if your ecommerce solution supports bulk imports.

In the Amazon store, 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: 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: Boost book sales with marketing and promotion

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

Promote your online book business on social media

Social media can be a powerful tool for increasing your business exposure and reaching readers 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’ll still want to monitor reviews for feedback about product quality, customer service, and other factors.

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
Good reviews can also increase a product’s chances of being listed as the Featured Offer (the first option on the yellow “Buy” button in Amazon search).

Step 7: Pack and ship book orders

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

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 tips for selling books in the Amazon store

You can sell books on Amazon—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. To increase your chances of success in building an online business, follow these best practices:

1. Choose a selling plan to get started

Set up an Amazon seller account to start selling and gain access to the Seller Central dashboard, where you can list products, manage your inventory, and fulfill orders.
  • 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.
  • Professional selling plan gives you access to advanced selling tools for a monthly subscription fee. Unlike the individual selling plan, you pay a flat monthly fee of $39.00 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.

2. Research which genres and categories sell best

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.

Do your research on what types of books sell well. It might 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.

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 in the Amazon store 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

You can use specific definitions to describe the condition of a book in an Amazon product listing. This description helps manage customer expectations. Reference these condition guidelines and requirements when listing a book in the Amazon store.

Collectibles and hardcovers with dust jackets have additional conditions. Build trust with customers by being completely transparent about the condition of each book.

4. Choose your fulfillment option

As an Amazon seller, you have several choices to fulfill orders.
  • 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.
  • Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) – You store inventory, pack, and ship books independently.
To fulfill book orders using FBA, follow these steps:

How Amazon receives your inventory

Take a tour of an Amazon fulfillment center and see how our Associates receive your inventory from your inbound shipments. You will also learn what happens when your shipments are missing vital prep, labels or packaging or are otherwise not e-Commerce ready.

Here’s how you can fulfill 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.

5. Monitor 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.
woman on laptop

Start selling books online

Ready to get into the online book business? Compare selling plans to figure out which program is best for your business, or sign up to get in front of hundreds of millions of customers worldwide.

Services like Fulfillment by Amazon can help with storing inventory, making sales, shipping orders, and receiving returns so you can free up your resources and focus on running your business. You can also acquire Amazon tools and business resources to optimize sales, grow your business, and build your customer base.

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.

Drive online sales for your products

Learn how to get started selling with Amazon.

FAQ: Selling books online

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:
  • 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 types of books can I sell in the Amazon store?
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 does it cost to sell books in the Amazon store?
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.

Both options come along with fees. Referral fees on each sale are typically a percentage of the total transaction. These vary by product category. For books, the referral fee is 15% plus a $1.80 closing fee. Collectible books are a flat 15%.

Shipping costs can 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.
What happened to Amazon Book Trade-In?
This program was discontinued and 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 happened to Amazon Textbook Buyback?
Amazon Textbook Buyback is no longer available. Instead, you can check to see if you can sell used textbooks by going to the Amazon Trade-In Program and entering the textbook’s ISBN. You can also get approval to sell in the Textbook Rentals category.

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