5 Easy Steps to Selling Books On Amazon in 2021
$188. Per book.
That’s how much money some people are making selling books on Amazon. Even when they’re used, like this one:
I don’t need to tell you how good that money is, especially for a side hustle.
Now, of course, not every book on Amazon is selling for hundreds. But if you know which books sell well, how to find them, and how to work the market, you could be making tons of extra income every month for just a few hours of work.
Why Should You Start Selling Books on Amazon?
Selling books on Amazon might not sound like the most profitable side hustle. But, you’d be surprised by how many people make a full-time salary doing it.
Some sellers report making between $3,000 – $5,000 a month. And, that’s only with a few hours of work and effort each week.
There are a lot of advantages to selling books on Amazon that make it one of the easiest and most profitable side-hustles, including:
Low inventory requirements
You don’t need to have lots of books to start selling or to make a lot of money. Even if 1 book sells for $25, you’re still making a big profit for a small investment.
Low starting costs
As we go through the best ways to source books you’ll see that most of the time you won’t spend more than a couple of bucks on your inventory.
This gives you a big potential for profit margins, as many used books on Amazon can actually sell for over $30.
This is a side hustle that doesn’t rely on current trends or heavy marketing. People will always need books. So, it’s a stable way to make extra money.
Selling books on Amazon is actually very easy – so easy in fact, that you can do it in just 5 steps.
Is it free to sell books on Amazon?
You have the option to set up a free seller account, although Amazon does take a small cut of each sale you make.
However, whether you ship through Amazon or on your own, you will have to pay a little money for shipping costs and supplies like boxes or label paper.
That said, you can definitely keep to a tight budget and make a huge profit margin. But, it’s not totally free. That’s why it’s so important to choose high-value books so it stays a profitable venture.
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How to Sell Books on Amazon
Below, I’ve put together a guide with 5 steps to help you find books you can sell online, set up your store, and get your books delivered to your customers with ease.
Without further ado, here are the 5 steps to sell books on Amazon.
1. Source your book
The first step to selling on Amazon is getting hold of the books you want to sell. Obviously, you can just grab books from around your house – this is a great way to make sales quickly!
But, if you want this to become a serious source of income you’ll need to think about finding consistent inventory and what kinds of books you’re selling.
High earning books include things like:
- Textbooks (especially for school)
- Biographies and Memoirs
- Non Fiction/ Educational
- Special Editions (Such as first editions, signed copies, limited editions, etc)
- Comic Books (These go for a lot if they’re collectibles)
If you have these lying around your house, you’re in luck. If not, don’t worry – you can easily find them elsewhere.
(When looking for books, you should use Amazon’s book scanner app to help you identify the most profitable titles. We’ll get more into that further on.)
Here are some of the best ways to find books you can sell on Amazon.
Yard sales or thrift stores
You constantly hear stories about people finding antiques worth millions at yard sales for two dollars – and it’s the same principle with books. You won’t make millions, but it’s likely you’ll be able to pick up a book for a couple of bucks that will sell for over fifty.
Whether it’s at a bookstore that’s closing down or a library, it’s pretty easy to find good books at these kinds of sales. If it’s a book store that’s closing down, it’s especially useful, because they might still be in ‘new’ condition, and you’ll be able to sell these for more.
Wholesale or Arbitrage
Sometimes sellers will see a book somewhere else (a store or a website) that they can buy and then resell on Amazon for a higher price. This is known as Arbitrage.
You can find books at second-hand book stores, on Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook.
If you identify one of these books and decide to buy lots of them in bulk, you can get an even bigger discount worked out with the vendor, and then sell at a profit. This is known as wholesale.
You should continually add books to your inventory as you go, but once you have between 5 – 10, you’re ready to get set up and start selling books on Amazon.
The other thing you’ll need to look out for is the BSR (Best Seller Rating) of each book. You can use the Amazon Scanner in the app to find these ratings.
This is basically a popularity ranking for each book, and any score lower than 200,000 isn’t really worth your time.
2. Decide on your fulfillment method
When selling books on Amazon, there are two options for how you’ll actually get your books to your customers.
The first method is as an Amazon FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant) and this means that you’ll ship your books to the customer yourself.
The other method is called Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) which means you ship the products to Amazon, and they send them to your customers for you.
Amazon FBM vs Amazon FBA for sellings books
Amazon FBM is great if you need to make sales quickly because your listings usually go live within 30 minutes and you can make sales the same day.
However, I would strongly advise choosing Amazon FBA.
If you do, you’ll get:
- Prime Shipping available for your books
- 24/7 Support for your customers by Amazon (so you don’t need to deal with complaints)
- Your shipping and storage are taken care of by Amazon
- Guaranteed packaging and delivery quality
Letting Amazon take care of the delivery aspect is great because it limits the number of mistakes that can be made along the way.
The only downside is that it can take a while for your books to get to Amazon’s fulfillment center, so you might have to wait a week or two until your listings are live.
It’s worth it, though, because any bad reviews due to packaging or delivery issues could get your seller account banned, especially when you’re new.
Once you’ve chosen your books and your delivery method, it’s time to get signed up as a seller.
3. Create an account
You’ll need to go to services/Amazon and set up a seller account.
You’ll be taken to this page:
You’ll see here that under ‘Sign Up’ it says the cost is $39.
However, if you click on ‘Pricing’ instead you’ll see there’s a free plan available (clicking sign up will automatically take you to the Professional plan that costs $39)
You’ll come to a screen that breaks down the plans, the fees, and the cost. The Professional plan will cost you $39 and gives you unlimited sales per month.
The Individual plan is free, but you have to pay $0.99 for every sale you make and you’re limited to 40 sales a month.
Start with the “free” Individual Plan
While you’re still learning to sell books on Amazon, it’s better to go for the Individual plan.
You’ll want time to figure out what sells and what doesn’t, and you’re unlikely to make more than 40 sales in your first few months. You can always upgrade once you’re more confident.
You’ll then be asked to sign in or create an account.
You might want to start a new account here that is just for selling, to keep your personal Amazon separate from business – it’s up to you. Once you’ve verified the account using your OTP as usual, you can start to add your seller details.
Make sure that all of the information here is correct, or your account will be rejected.
Your business address is the same as your home address. And, you’ll either fall under ‘Privately-owned’ or ‘None, I am an individual’ for the business type. (If you opted for the individual plan you can stay as an individual under business type too.)
Add your personal details
Once you click ‘Agree and continue’ you’ll have to fill in your personal details, including your name, address, passport no, date of birth, and phone number. Again, take the time to double-check all of these before you continue to avoid getting rejected.
The next screen asks you to fill in your banking details, as another measure of confirming your identity. Be careful here, because you can’t move on until they successfully verify and link your account.
Add your bank account info
You’ll also be asked for a banking statement, later on, so make sure this is an active account.
Then add your credit/debit card information, in case you ever have any fees to pay.
Fill in the details and click ‘next’.
Complete your store details
Now you finally get to focus on the actual store and the books!
You need to fill in:
The name of your store
Just using your own name is fine, or you can try to think of something book-themed. Amazon will let you know whether or not the name is available.
Whether or not you have UPC (Universal Product Codes) for your books
When selling books, you should mark ‘no’ here.
UPC is similar to a bar code, but most books use another coding system. This is called an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and it’s preferable to have these when selling books.
Whether you are a manufacturer or own the brand you’re selling
Again, here, you’ll need to mark ‘no’, because you didn’t create, write or own the brand of any of these books.
Whether you have a government trademark for your products
Again, it’s a ‘no’, because you don’t have a trademark or ownership of the books you’re selling.
Whether your business supports women, the LGBT community, veterans, or minorities
This is up to you, but it’s best to choose ‘no’ as you don’t actually employ anyone.
Verify your account
Once you’re ready to move forward, you’ll come to a page that asks you for verification information. You need to double-check that all your personal details are correct, and then upload a couple of documents to prove you are who you say you are.
This includes your passport and a bank statement.
You’ll then probably have to wait for a week or two while all the information gets verified.
To increase your chances of getting verified sooner, make sure that:
- All the documents you upload are clear and easy for a COMPUTER to read
- You have put the same address, name, and bank details all the way through
- You’re not planning on changing this information for the first few months of selling books on Amazon
Once you get confirmation that you’re verified, you’re ready to start adding your inventory!
4. List your books
Now that you’ve been approved, you can start listing the books that you have ready.
Before uploading them onto your seller account, though, you’ll need to do a quality check.
See if they have any rips or writing inside; clean the covers to make sure there’s no dirt or dust and take off any stickers on the outside, especially barcodes.
Amazon can only register one code, and that will be with the label you’ll print out later.
Once you’re sure that your books are good enough to sell, you’re ready to upload them as listings.
You can list your books using Amazon desktop, but I would suggest using the app instead. It comes with a scanner that can read the barcodes/ ISBNs on your books and automatically populate listing information for you to edit. (This is the same scanner you can use to find valuable books in stores!)
How to list a book on Amazon
From your seller dashboard, go to ‘add product’ and use your camera to scan your book’s ISBN.
You’ll see your listing come up, with the option of ‘e-book’ ‘paperback or ‘hardback’. You can’t sell ‘E-books’ so don’t worry about this one, but do be careful about whether you select paperback or hardback.
If you list a book as a hardback and it’s not, you’ll get a bad review. This could get your account flagged or suspended, especially if you’re new.
Once you’ve selected your book, you’ll see the product details page. This will show what the current prices are for the book.
Decide on your pricing
Finding the lowest current listing and setting your own prices even lower is the key to making money when selling books on Amazon.
If you’re using FBA, you can filter results by FBA only, as these are the only prices you’ll need to compete against.
Once you’ve decided on your pricing, you can go ahead and select ‘sell’.
Choose the condition of your book
You’ll then be asked to list the product’s condition and add a description.
There are 5 different types of conditions for Amazon books:
This can only be used if it’s directly from a store – e.g; a bookstore closing down sale.
Used – Like New
These are books that are in perfect condition, so white pages, no wrinkles, stiff covers, etc.
Used – Very Good
Your books should still be clean, without marks or dog ears, but they can feel a little more worn out.
Used – Good
You can have a few folds on the pages and wrinkles on the spine or on the cover, but no pen marks or stains.
Used – Acceptable
If you have any stains on the books, ripped pages, or writing that can’t be removed, this is probably the best option.
When you note the condition, it’s better to always list it one level worse than you think it is. You don’t want a bad review because your customers expect something more than what they get.
When you look for books for your inventory, avoid buying anything in an ‘acceptable’ condition – you won’t make a profit from them and it’s a waste of time.
You’ll then be asked to add a description (condition note.) Keep this as detailed as you can, and write out templates that you can use in the future to save time.
Add some high-quality, clear photos, showing the front cover, the back cover, and the spine.
Then add the price.
It’s going to ask you if you want to match the lowest price – you don’t want to do that.
The lowest price they show will be the lowest price for ALL sellers – including vendors and FBM. Instead, use the price that you decided on based on the FBA list.
The SKU is optional – it’s really just a number that’s there to help you organize your listings better. If you do want to put one, you can just put the date so you know when your listing went up.
As we’re using FBA, check the box for Amazon to ship your boxes.
Review all of the details, and once you’re sure they’re correct, go ahead and submit your listing.
It will take about 5 minutes for it to show up in the dashboard, so in the meantime, you can repeat the process with your other books.
5. Send your items to Amazon Fulfillment
The last step to selling books on Amazon is to get them sent off to Amazon’s warehouse.
(If you’re working as an FBM, you’ll have to ship the books directly to the customer instead. But for this guide, we’ll work with FBA.)
How to send inventory to Amazon FBA
To start, go to the Amazon seller central dashboard, and select ‘Inventory / Manage FBA inventory’
Select the books that you want to send. (If you have lots of books listed in your inventory, you can filter by ‘most recent’ to make this easier)
Select send / Replenish inventory
Once you’ve selected the books, click on ‘Action on selected / Send / Replenish inventory’
Click continue, and you’ll be asked to fill in a few more details. These include:
Number of Units
For most books this will just be one – the only exception is when you’re selling wholesale.
Who will prepare the product
Make sure you choose a Merchant here, otherwise, Amazon will charge you a dollar for each action they have to take (so a dollar for wrapping, another for labeling, another for packaging, etc.)
Here, you can download the labels for your books, and print all of them. (For this, you’ll want to invest in some *label printing paper*)
Review your shipments
Amazon will give you an address where you can send your products – this is your nearest Amazon Fulfillment center.
Check, check, and recheck before sending your shipment to Amazon
When you are processing your shipments, be extremely thorough with reviewing the details, and that all the books you’ve listed are in the box you send.
If you include books that aren’t listed in your shipment, or you forget to put a book in the box, Amazon can fine you, so this is really important!
You can then load up all your books into a box, and weigh them. (If you want to take this seriously, I would strongly advise you to get a set of postage scales – you can get a cheap one *here* on Amazon)
Once you’ve added in your shipping details, Amazon will give you an estimate of the cost and you can print shipping labels from there.
…Review everything again
Review all of your information one last time, and then mark ‘complete shipment’
All you need to do is take your box of books to your local post office or UPS point, and you’re done! You’ve now officially sold your first set of books with Amazon!
Now that you’ve gone through the steps and set up your store, adding new inventory will get easier and easier.
Just remember that Amazon puts customer service before anything else – so when you are listing your books, cleaning them, and packaging them, try to make sure the customer will be satisfied – disappointment is not an option with Amazon!
The main thing is to stay vigilant when checking the details.
An extra five minutes to make sure everything is correct is definitely worth it to avoid bad reviews or even fines.
You’ll soon become a pro and you’ll be making thousands in no time. It’s one of the easiest ways to make extra income, and anyone can be a success!
Let me know in the comments if you’re planning on starting a business with Amazon, or if you’ve found some clever ways to be successful selling books on Amazon!
About Matt Collins
With a rapidly growing team of readers, my mission is to teach hungry professionals how to maximize their net worth with scalable side hustles and responsible financial management practices.
My reputation is of the utmost importance to me, which is why I only provide completely honest, 100% true, unbiased recommendations for systems and software I know and trust.