How to Sell Books on Amazon

December 7, 2021

Key points

  • If done correctly, selling books on Amazon can become a lucrative side hustle or even a fully-fledged business.
  • You can sell new, used, rare, collectible books, textbooks, and even ebooks on the marketplace. You can even sell books that were published before 1970 and therefore don’t have an ISBN.
  • The process of selling books on Amazon is identical to selling any other product. All you need to do is create an Amazon seller account if you don’t have one already and fill out all the necessary information. Next, create listings for each book you want to sell, describe their condition, and state how much inventory you have available. Finally, choose whether you want to fulfill orders yourself or utilize the FBA program.

Anybody who knows at least something about Amazon and has heard of Jeff Bezos is most likely aware that Amazon began its story as a small and humble online bookshop. But over the years, Amazon has become one of the greatest retail giants and is highly popular across the world.

Although nowadays Amazon offers tons of categories and even more products, books still remain highly relevant and occupy an important place on the Amazon marketplace. According to an eMarketer study, approximately 62% of all books, music, and videos are bought online, meaning those sales generate billions of dollars in revenue.

Selling books online on Amazon can become a great source of revenue both for large book stores and new sellers. It’s also an excellent way to finally free up some room and get rid of books you don’t read anymore. Plus, with the help of Amazon, your own ebooks have a chance to see the light of day, become popular, and make you some money as well. So if you are looking for a way to sell new or used books on Amazon, we are more than happy to help you by providing our step-by-step guide that will set your business up for success.

Why Sell Books on Amazon? Is It Profitable?

If you’re reading this article, you’re most likely wondering whether you can make a profit from selling books on Amazon. The answer is unambiguous: yes, you most certainly can!

Despite being challenged by modern entertainment mediums, books never get old and stay in demand. Despite the convenience of ebooks, many people are still not ready to give up those cozy evenings with hot cocoa in one hand and a good book in another when all you do is occasionally turn soft pages while being totally engrossed in a thrilling story. Just reading this makes you feel relaxed, doesn’t it?

Is it worth selling books on Amazon? Helpful information, figures and tips from Nuoptima's Amazon experts

You may also be happy to learn that books are one of Amazon’s top five most popular product categories. This and the fact that Amazon provides multiple efficient order fulfillment options for sellers makes it even more tempting to try selling books on the marketplace.

In addition, selling books on Amazon is neither risky nor extremely expensive. Social media and the internet are overflowing with stories about people turning to selling books as an additional source of income. Some even manage to turn this side business into a full-time career. All of this is possible because of the excellent profit margins sellers can get on books. You might be able to buy a volume for just a few dollars and afterward resell it for ten times that amount or even more.

However, not all books are that lucrative. So before starting to sell books on Amazon, you’ll need to do some research and analyze which books are currently relevant and have the highest demand.

As we have already discussed, selling books online can become an excellent source of additional income. But is it profitable to sell them specifically on Amazon? After all, there are plenty of other platforms such as eBay.

Well, according to some estimates, Amazon owns more than half of the print book industry and about three-quarters of the ebook market. The number of customers who have Prime memberships increases every day, so it is natural that when searching for a book to buy, most people will immediately turn to Amazon, giving you access to a vast customer base. Furthermore, selling with Amazon doesn’t require you to create your own website and an online order system or assemble a large inventory. Amazon’s seller tools help you manage the whole process relatively quickly and with less overhead. This makes Amazon an excellent place to sell books and other items.

What Types of Books Can You Sell on Amazon and Where to Get Them?

Amazon enables you to sell books in numerous formats such as hardcovers, paperbacks, and ebooks, and it doesn’t matter whether you are planning to list and sell books from your own brick-and-mortar bookstore, resell ones you no longer read, or offer works written by you.

Generally, there are few options Amazon sellers may offer their customers. Among them, you can find:

New books

Most of the customers prefer purchasing new books. Although these books are in greater demand compared to used ones, acquiring them might be challenging. You’ll need to buy them through wholesalers, distributors, and publishers, meaning you’ll have to purchase large quantities in bulk, which can be pretty costly.

Used books

Compared with brand-new books, secondhand books are less popular with buyers but more widespread among sellers since they are easier to find, less expensive to purchase, and potentially more profitable if you are lucky enough to find good deals. While acquiring secondhand books is cheaper, it may be more worthwhile to try selling new books first, provided you have enough financial resources. Doing that will help you get higher sales margins.

But if you’re set on selling used books on Amazon, you may be wondering where you can purchase used books. First of all, you can get them right off your own shelf or ask friends and family if they have some books they no longer need. Plus, don’t forget there may be some great deals hiding at local used bookshops, thrift stores, estate sales, or even at your neighborhood yard sales. You may also be able to find some interesting offers at online marketplaces such as eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and local library sales.

Textbooks

Do you have any secondhand college textbooks that occupy too much space? If they’re in good shape, don’t hesitate to dust them off and sell them on Amazon to earn a little money. Make sure to include accurate and truthful information regarding the book’s condition. Keep in mind that spring and autumn are the peak seasons for textbook sales.

Infographic on types of books you can sell on Amazon, where to get them and what to keep in mind as a seller

Books without an ISBN

On most books, you can find a registration code called the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) inside the book cover or on the barcode. Each book published after 1970 has this registration code. If the book you want to sell was printed prior to this date, it probably doesn’t have an ISBN. If this is the case, you may need to apply for an exception on Amazon.

Collectible or rare books

Antique books can attract fine literature lovers who want to enrich their collections. However, since the state of these volumes can be quite fragile, it is vital to describe each book’s condition truthfully and in detail. You can also list your collectibles on websites specifically designed to sell rare and unique books, for instance, AbeBooks.com.

Ebooks

Did you write an ebook but are struggling to sell it? If so, have you ever considered selling your ebook online to a worldwide audience? Kindle Direct Publishing is a fantastic option for those who want to get involved with self-publishing. KDP allows you to stay in control of the rights to your book, determine your own prices, make adjustments whenever you want, and get royalties from sales.

Best books to sell on Amazon

According to sales data, the most profitable types and categories of books to sell on Amazon are:

  • Textbooks
  • Comic books
  • Non-fiction
  • Hardcovers
  • Self-help books
  • Memoirs and biographies
  • Health, fitness, and dieting
  • Religion and spirituality
  • Politics and social sciences

Due to the rapid loss of appeal, the market for novels is considered the most unremarkable. However, since some books are part of school curriculums, selling them is the best option to get the highest revenue.

Here’s one more suggestion: let people know you want to acquire books. How about setting up a website or writing a post saying you are looking for books? That way, instead of constantly doing all the searching process on your own, people may approach you and offer their books on sale.

How to Sell Books on Amazon?

Once you have decided which books you are going to sell and where to get them, you’ll need to list them on Amazon. Here is a detailed guide on how to create your account and listings:

Step 1: Create an Amazon seller account

Unless you already are an Amazon seller, the first step you’ll need to take toward becoming eligible to sell books on Amazon is to set up a dedicated account. There are two types of accounts you can choose from: individual and professional.

The individual selling plan is the so-called pay-as-you-go package that includes basic listing and order management features. It allows you to set up listings one at a time by linking goods to existing pages in the Amazon catalog or by establishing new ones. Since under this plan, sellers are not charged fees until the product is ordered, it’s a great starting point for people who are new to online retail.

The professional selling plan grants you access to Amazon’s latest cutting-edge selling tools. For example, it allows you to upload files in bulk and manage orders via feeds and reports in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. Unlike the individual package, this plan requires you to pay a fee regardless of whether you’ve sold anything on the platform that month. However, both packages require sellers to pay referral fees on all sold products.

To register a Professional Seller account, hit the “Sign Up” button. As of now, the monthly fee for this package is $39.99.

To set up an Individual Seller account, scroll down and click the “Sign up to become an individual seller” link. This account type is available for everyone, and you’ll be obliged to pay Amazon $0.99 every time you sell a book or another item regardless of the nature of the products you are selling.

If you can’t decide which account option works better for your business, try to predict how many books you’ll be able to sell each month. If the estimated number is lower than 40, then the individual selling plan will be the better option for you. And if the estimated number is higher than 40, you should consider opting for the professional selling plan, as it will likely end up being cheaper.

After choosing the plan, you will be asked to fill in some personal information, including a valid credit card, phone number, and tax information.

Step 2: List your books

After you are done registering the account, you can create your listings. First, sign in to your Amazon Seller Central account. Once you have logged in, click “Catalog” in the upper left corner of the screen and choose “Add Product.” Next, type your book’s ISBN into the search bar. If the book was published prior to 1970, you will have to enter the title manually. Once you’ve filled out the product listing page, press the “Sell on Amazon” button. If you want, you can create your own SKU. If not, just leave the field blank, and Amazon will automatically generate an SKU for you. Next, you need to decide how much your product will cost. If you want to be competitive on Amazon, it is advisable to select the lowest price. This will also increase your chances of winning the Buy Box for the product. Afterward, you have to let Amazon know how many volumes of the particular book you have at your disposal. By default, the total quantity is set at one unit. Next, you’ll be asked to describe the book’s state. Don’t try to hide or omit any information and be honest about its condition since any differences between your description and the reality may result in a higher return rate.

Step 3: Select your fulfillment method

And the last step is to choose your fulfillment channel: MFN or FBA.

The Merchant Fulfilled (MFN) method implies that you will store inventory and deliver orders yourself.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) implies that you will ship your books to Amazon and delegate the entire order fulfillment and delivery process to them.

Finally, you need to click “Save and Finish” to post the listing you’ve just created. After that, you will simply need to keep an eye on your sales rate, reviews, revenue and amend the prices, if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re an experienced and skilled online businessman or a novice seller who wants to set up a simple side business, selling books on Amazon is a solid business option for everyone. It is considered a low-budget and low-risk investment, and if you follow the steps outlined above, you can significantly increase your income and become a successful seller in no time.

Since managing all Amazon-related operations while also trying to grow your business and outperform the competition can be a pretty grueling and challenging task, it’s always a good idea to get expert help to ensure that your business achieves success. Today, many sellers opt to hire agencies that can help them develop a successful business plan and assist them in growing their company. If you want to remain competitive on Amazon, Nuoptima can help guide you to success. Sign up for a free discovery call with one of our specialists right now!

Talk to an Amazon expert

We work with 100+ businesses. Book a slot now to talk to one of our experts.


FAQs

What type of books sell best on Amazon?
Textbooks, comic books, non-fiction, memoirs, and biographies are considered the top 5 most popular and best-selling book categories on Amazon.
Is it legal to sell books on Amazon?
Yes, selling books on Amazon is entirely legal. To get started with this business, you’ll have to create an Amazon seller account, list your items, and select an order fulfillment method.
How can I determine whether my book is worth selling?
If you want to sell an old book but have no clue how much it is worth, you can start by looking up the prices of similar books on Amazon. Next, try to analyze how sellers set those prices and compare the condition of your volume to the ones already being sold on Amazon.

By: Alexej Pikovsky

CEO

Linkedin

Alexej is the Co-Founder and CEO of Alphagreen Group, a global acquisition and incubation organization specialized in the health and wellness industry. He began his career in investment banking at Nomura before moving on to become a founding member of Delin Ventures, a venture capital arm investing in leading technology companies and VC funds. Alexej acquired board-level experience as an investor for a large-cap private equity fund before founding Alphagreen in 2019. The firm initially focused on CBD markets and then expanded to focus on all products related to pain, sleep, and anxiety management. The group leverages his interest and involvement in tech-enabled services and background in venture funding to deploy a 'hybrid aggregator business model' which helps brands to scale both locally and internationally. They achieve this through their own distribution channels, data science, growth agency and extensive external omni-channel network.

NUOPTIMA > Insights > How to Sell Books on Amazon

Expert Amazon Strategy Call

Book a call with our Amazon experts to discuss how to grow your brand faster and more sustainably

Book a Call

Growth Strategy Call

Book a call with one of our growth experts to discover the best way to grow your business

Book a Call