I have recently talked about selling books online for cash through different sites.
And a few of our awesomely smart readers wanted to know how you can sell your books (used or new) on Amazon.com.
That’s a very good question actually. After all, Amazon started out as an online bookstore. Although today you can buy and sell almost anything on it.
Here is a detailed guide on how you can become a bookseller on Amazon.
What will I learn?
Listing Your Books
Selling on Amazon is easy.
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First, you get on to the Sellers page (a click on the Individual Sellers link will take you there), and start listing your books.
Once there, you can start to define the item type laboriously, or simply use the ISBN number – this is my preferred option as it often comes out with an accurate depiction quick.
Once you have the initial information in, you have to answer a few questions about the book you want to sell on Amazon.
- What condition the product is in?
Is it new, almost new, used, torn to shreds, etc…
- How is the condition of your product?
This is your opportunity to provide further details on the condition of the product. Do you still retain the dust cover? Are there pages missing from the book?
- The price and quantity of your product.
Unless you are sure that your items are hot, I say stick to the lowest price acceptable. Otherwise, don’t count on the book being sold fast, or being sold at all. Most buyers have a peculiar habit, they will check the lowest offer they can find and buy exactly that.
- Select your shipping method.
There are 2 choices here: expedite shipments or ship internationally.
How Much Money Will I Make?
As you list out your items one by one, Amazon’s engine will do the calculation and tell you what you stand to make for every sale.
On your part, you better factor in shipping, packaging, and taking it to the post office as you define the price point.
The commission charged by Amazon is 15% on sales.
In addition, they also deduct a 99 cent fee, plus a variable closing fee.
This variable closing fee is based on the shipping method and its amount is deducted from the shipping cost that the buyer pays.
Often, after the deduction of this variable closing fee from the shipping amount paid, sellers suddenly learn that the shipping fees to be borne by them are more than the amount they will get back from Amazon.
If your mode of shipping is Media Mail and the book itself is not very heavy (called a standard book), you may have to make up the difference that amounts to around $1.
Why You Shouldn’t Sell Books for Under $6-7?
If you are looking to make a profit, selling books for pennies on Amazon isn’t going to get you there.
You will have to sell your book for at least $3 just to cover your costs and leave enough money for Amazon to take away. Of course, the calculation is just a gross estimation.
But if you think your strategy at Amazon is to simply push a lot of books real cheap (i.e. in the $3 range), I can safely say your are really misguided and your strategy better be further reviewed!
For this reason, I would never advocate selling books over at Amazon for under 6-7 dollars. Although, I admit, I foolishly committed this folly before.
You may argue that the rule of aggregation does apply. Why not? Yes, imagine you are dead sure that you can sell tons of books, and with mere profit of just one buck each, the end number would still be respectable.
But let’s say you have just a handful of books, are you prepared to settle for a $5 (arbitrary, could be less) profit after all the trouble to list them there at Amazon?
A Tip About Shipping
Amazon is actually generous with their $3.99 shipping credit for each book you sell there. By sticking to Media Mail from the USPS, the shipping fees should revolve around $2.50 each.
I could use the balance on packing materials and other related expenses, so to ship books for under $3.99 each is definitely do-able.
Where to Find Books to Resell?
Some potential sources to build up your book inventory!
- Yard & Estate Sales – Pay attention to the ads in the newspapers & on Craigslist
- Library Sales – Keep current on library book sales.
- University Book Sales – Call the Libraries directly
- Bookstore Sales – Always look out for the price buster list
- Thrift Stores
- Independent Book Stores – chances are good you find under-priced books here!
Church Rummage Sales
Avoid These Mistakes (That I Made in the Past)
You have to plan and execute carefully if you want to profit.
That said, mistakes do happen. I made a few mistakes early on that were costly.
I’ am going to list them here so you can avoid them.
1. Not Getting the Delivery Confirmation Tracking Number
When I first forayed into this bookselling trade, in my excitement, I mailed my first book without the delivery confirmation tracking number. The other party denied that there had been any book came their way, and I remember paying out the refund grudgingly!
The moral of the story is that don’t send anything out without tracking number!
It settles the argument on “Where’s my book?” splendidly.
To be fair, it may not be the customers who try to be funny but because of packages being mis-sent by the post office, and the result is a delay of its scheduled arrival.
Of course, there would always be the odd buyers who try to pull a fast one when they claim they receive nothing. Again the delivery confirmation number would be excellent proof that the item is already in their possession!
I have become cool after a couple of such incidents and nowadays, I simply tell them that I will have the authorities check on the possibility of mail fraud, itself a federal felony.
This is the best counter argument, as soon enough, these same folks would say that they did get their book! You just learn to distinguish the anxious book lovers from evil scammers!
2. Not Double Checking the Address
One other mistake I committed was not to double-check the address on the computer generated shipping label. I figured I could count on PayPal to get everything right as I printed out the address label with the postage on it.
But not that time!
PayPal did not include the address and the apartment number.
I carelessly sent out the book without checking, and it never got to its destined address (of course) and never gotten back to me.
In the end, another replacement book was sent.
This makes the habit in me to compare the address label to the shipping address in my record. So much talk about computers being the all powerful and efficient machines.
To summarize, open an Amazon account (very useful since there are many other ways to make money with Amazon as well), put in the right title, ensure it is the correct version of the book, describe its condition, and name your price.
Different people have different policies on pricing; my tactic is to simply list my books at 50 cents lower than the cheapest price already published.
You may find another pricing strategy that works best for you. But you won’t know until you actually start listing and selling your books on Amazon.