How to Sell Books on Amazon

So, you want to learn how to sell books on Amazon? Then you have come to the right place. Selling books on Amazon has become a side hustle for a lot of people, and for good reason. Amazon provides a user-friendly and cost-effective platform to market, so you can sell books on Amazon and sell your other content, without the hassle of having to go through traditional book-selling mechanisms. That is why we put together this Amazon how to sell books guide; to help you get the most out of making your knowledge mainstream. 

Why Amazon though? Simple. Amazon is the single largest online marketplace in the world and the top e-commerce company in the world. Every day, nearly 200 million people visit Amazon.com and Amazon pulls in nearly $638 million in revenue each weekday. So given the size and reach of the Amazon marketplace, there is really no better place to sell your books. This can be done by analyzing the book market using IO Scout Amazon seller tools. Moreover, you have to calculate all the expenses that are linked to it such as its packaging, etc. and determine your expected profits. Use IO Scout FBA Calculator and IO Scout Sales Estimator to calculate profit and fees of the book. When you have picked the book and have launched it, you then have to focus on its listing because these play a key role in the performance of items. If you insert the appropriate keywords in your content you will have better chances to land on the first page of the relevant search queries of buyers. All of this can be done quite comfortably through the IO Scout Chrome Extension for Amazon available for this purpose.

However, when it comes to selling books on this platform the process is a bit different. Here, we must tell you that some aspects of this process are also the same as the process of launching any other item.

But, selling your books on Amazon is not as easy as just making a listing and hoping people find it. There is also an involved marketing aspect to selling your books on Amazon. You have to not only create the product but make sure it gets the exposure it needs with the right audiences. If you want to run a successful Amazon business, then you need to put in the work. 

We are here to help so we put together this ultimate guide on how to sell books on Amazon and turn a profit. We will cover things like how to create an Amazon seller account, how to list your books, how to keep track of your revenue and performance, and more.

sell books on amazon

Sell Books on Amazon: Super Fast Steps

Create an Amazon Seller Account
Choose the Amazon Marketplace
Start Listing Books
Optimize Your Listing by Using IO Scout Amazon Listing Optimization
Keep Track of Your Sales
Buy a Money Counter Machine for your Profit

So without any further ado, let’s get to it!

How to Sell Textbooks on Amazon

Books are one of the most popular sections on the Amazon marketplace, but what about sell textbooks on Amazon? As it turns out, there is a huge demand for textbooks on Amazon. Whether it’s for students looking for textbooks for classes or people who just want to self-educate, Amazon is one of the biggest sellers of textbooks in the world

If you are an Amazon seller, you can list textbooks from dozens of categories, from math to chemistry to biology and more. As is the case with any other Amazon category, the platform takes a small cut of every textbook you sell. Alternatively, you can use Amazon textbook buyback option. With the buyback option, Amazon will make you an offer for any used textbooks you have and pay you with a gift card. If you use the buyback option, then you won’t have any control over the listing price though. 

Both options have their pros and cons, so the right strategy depends on your specific inventory as well as your overall business strategy. Using the buyback option is more straightforward and less work on your part, but listing textbooks and selling them on your own will make you more money overall, even though it requires more work.

How to Price Your Textbooks on Amazon

Figuring out what price you should list is one of the most important things. One great feature about Amazon is it is fairly easy to do market research. All you have to do is navigate to the “Books” department tab, type in the ISBN number of the textbook you have, and take a look at the listing prices that pop up. These prices should give you a good picture of how much you can sell similar textbooks for. From there, you can tweak prices based on the specific edition and quality of the textbooks you have. 

Textbook quality is important too. Amazon has fairly strict guidelines on books they will accept for the buyback program, so if your books are in bad quality it might be a hard sell. In general, your textbooks should not have things like highlighting and writing in the margins. If the textbooks you want to sell are of poor quality, then it may be hard to sell them, even if you list them at an extremely competitive price. 

Also, if the textbook came with any supplemental materials such as an online access code of CD, then you will need to include those. Otherwise, you won’t be able to sell as many as you would like. 

Selling Used Books on Amazon

What about how to sell used books on Amazon? Books are unrestricted on Amazon so you can sell new and used books with no problems. As long as the book isn’t literally falling apart, you can find a buyer. In fact, most books sold on the platform are used, so there is definitely a market for them. 

One simple way you can figure out whether a book is worth selling is using the Amazon Seller App. This app lets you scan used books and it will tell you what the average listing price is and how well the book sells on Amazon. This app is invaluable if you are trying to find an inventory source and need to work out how much profit you can reasonably expect to earn. 

As you would probably expect, used books usually sell for less than new books. That average used book sells for about $7-$8 on Amazon. If you want to make the most out of your efforts, we recommend trying to source used books or school books for around $1-$2. Any less than that, then the profit margin will not be large enough to make selling them worth it. 

selling used books on amazon

Here are a couple of places that you can look to source used books

  1. Used books stores
  2. Garage sales
  3. eBay
  4. Craigslist
  5. Library sales
  6. Thrift stores

These kinds of sources are great places to find used books for an extremely cheap price. In fact, you can find a ton of books for less than $1 at used book stores and garage sales. If you want to make used book sales the backbone of your Amazon business, then you will need to find a good source for used books. 

You also need to keep in mind selling plans if you want to sell used books on Amazon. Currently, Amazon has two plans sellers can choose from: the Amazon Individual and Professional plans. Here is a quick rundown of how much each cost and what kind of features they have.

Plan Features Individual Professional
Price $0.99 per item $39.99 per month
Referral fee 15% 15%
Closing fee $1.80 $1.80
Advertising No Yes
Sales data No Yes
Inventory Management No Yes

As you can see, the Amazon Professional plan will most likely be your best option if you plan to list more than 40 books a month. The Amazon Professional plan also gives you access to some extremely useful tools for tracking your sales and advertising your wares. 

How to Sell Old Books on Amazon

So we have covered textbooks and used books, but what about how to sell old or rare books on Amazon? These kinds of books may be no longer in print or they may be rare collectors edition items. It is a bit trickier selling rare and old books on Amazon as they tend to lump together regular used books with rare collector’s edition titles. 

Before trying to sell a rare or an old book, you should try to get it appraised so you know how much it can sell for. If you think you might have a rare book, then you should try to get an expert’s opinion before you list it. 

Once you figure out an acceptable price, the next step is to craft an item description that gets across just how valuable the book actually is. Take note of things like the data it was published, which edition the book is, and how many extant copies are left. For example, a first edition copy of The Fellowship of the Ring can sell for thousands of dollars. 

As is always the case with selling books on Amazon, the condition is important . Even if you have a rare copy of an out-of-print book, if it is in too poor condition to sell then you will not get the good price that you want. 

Unless you have deep industry connections, it will be very hard to make selling rare and old books the backbone of your Amazon business. So old and rare books should be specialty items. 

Amazon Textbook Buyback

We mentioned Amazon book buyback briefly earlier but we will cover it more in-depth in this section. Amazon textbook trade in program allows you to trade-in old textbooks for some money. Most of the time, you won’t be able to get the full asking price but it can be a good way to offload some inventory if you cannot sell them anywhere else.

Most of the time, you can sell books back to Amazon and get as much as 80% of the original value of the book. Not every book can be sold and most of them won’t go for the full 80%, though. Most sellers will be able to get anywhere between 25%-50% for their textbooks.  

If you want to take advantage of this book trade-in feature, then you will have to meet some standards. Trade-in books must have a proper binding, contain all of their pages, and not have any external damage such as water damage. Additionally, traded textbooks cannot have any notes or comments written in the margin. If so, this could reduce the listing price for the book. You can read more about the specific conditions on this FAQ page from Amazon. 

amazon textbook buyback

How to do an Amazon Trade In

Here is a quick guide on how to trade in books on Amazon. First, select the items that you want to trade-in and make a note of their condition. Next, you have to give amazon the address from which you will send your items. Once you have all the proper info entered in, click on “Confirm Trade-In,” then you will be given a prepaid-UPS shipping label. Then all you have to do is drop off your books at the nearest UPS location and you are done. You can find more info about the trade-in process here

Sounds pretty easy right? So what are the drawbacks?

The first big disadvantage of how to sell books back to Amazon is the process can be time-consuming. It takes about 10-14 days for them to receive your book and send you your payment, so the buyback program may not be the best idea if you need a quick turnaround.

Also, Amazon won’t actually give you money for your textbooks. Instead, you get paid in gift cards. It is possible to sell these gift cards for cash, but that is another process in itself. So while the buyback program can be useful if you need to offload some extra inventory, it’s not a good idea to base your entire business on the buyback program. 

Here is Amazon’s buyback program compared to a couple of other popular ones: 

Amazon Buyback BookByte Cash4Books
Cash No Yes Yes
Average Rate 25%-50% of original value At least $10 Varies based on condition
Free shipping Yes Yes Yes

Sell My Books on Amazon

Now we have covered textbooks, used books, and old/rare books, but what about how to sell my book on Amazon? Say you are a burgeoning author; how would you sell your book on Amazon?

Fortunately, the answer to how to sell your book on Amazon is fairly straightforward. Amazon has entire pages for authors to sell their own books. If you are a professionally published author, then your publishing company will most likely handle distributing physical copies of the book through Amazon, so you likely won’t have to do much. 

However, if you have a self-published book, you can still sell it through Amazon, you will just have to take some extra steps . First things first though, you will have to create an Amazon author profile. You can go to this link here and create an account. You will first have to make an account name and password. If you already have an Amazon account, you can use that info for your author profile. Next, you will have to add books to your profile. You can do this by searching the book’s ISBN number and adding it to your profile. 

how to sell books on amazon

Once you make an account and enter your book’s details, Amazon may contact your publishing company to verify your identity. Once they do that, you can start customizing your Amazon author profile by adding a picture and bio. Keep in mind that author pages are for individual authors and you cannot make a shared author page. 

How Does Amazon Sell My Published Book?

One the one hand, you could just list your own books and ship the physical copies yourself. But that is a lot of work. Amazon has a program to make selling published books much easier. 

The Amazon Advantage program essentially works like a consignment store. Amazon will list your books and will contact the publisher for copies, depending on the demand. That means you won’t have to have copies of your book lying around in your garage and you don’t have to ship them yourself. Amazon will take care of the entire selling process and will you get paid monthly depending on how many books they sell. 

For most self-published authors, this will be the best route to go. Amazon Advantage will handle most of the selling so all you have to do is sit back and collect a paycheck every month. 

Obviously, Amazon will not do this for free. It costs $99 a year to be part of Amazon Advantage. This membership will allow you to list unlimited titles and you will get some nifty tools for managing your account and tracking your sales. 

You can also sell your books through Selling on Amazon. This feature basically allows you to create your own mini-store on Amazon to sell your books. Amazon charges a flat $1.20 fee plus 15% of the book’s value as a commission fee and they will handle all the storage, shipping, and package.

Note: Keep in mind that with Selling on Amazon, you get charged for storage as well. Also, there is a small fee depending on the weight of the item. So heavier books will incur a larger storage and shipping fee

Sell an eBook on Amazon

Instead of selling physical books on Amazon, you can figure out how to sell books on Kindle or sell eBooks on Amazon. In many cases, selling an ebook on Amazon is a better idea as you do not need to pay potentially exorbitant costs for publishing physical books. 

Amazon Kindle store has thousands of new and classic titles in ebook format and Amazon makes it easy to add your book to their catalog. Kindle books come in PDF form so they easily are uploaded and distributed. You can download Kindle on both the Apple store and Google Play Store .

There are two ways you can sell an eBook on Amazon. You can make the PDF copies yourself and sell them through your Amazon merchant account. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources online and places where you can upload your book in PDF format

Alternatively, you can publish your book directly through Kindle and sell your books there. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is a great option if you don’t want to go through the hassle of making and selling your own PDFs through a merchant account.

How to sell ebooks on Kindle is a simple process. First, you will have to create a KDP account. You can use your already existing Amazon account or you can create a new one just for publishing on Kindle. From there, you can upload your book manuscript and cover. Amazon has some fairly strict content and quality standards so make sure your manuscript is up to par. 

Once you upload your manuscript, you can create a new title and enter the book’s title, a brief description, keywords, categories, etc. Once you have that all set up, KDP will let you view a preview of your published book so you can make sure that everything is in place.

Next, you can select the pricing and royalty plan. Make sure that you are choosing territories where you have sole distribution rights, or else you might run afoul some publishing restrictions. Finally, once you have all that info put in, you can click on Publish Your Kindle e-Book, and Voila! Your Kindle ebook will be listed on the Kindle store, ready to sell. 

The best part is that it is completely free to self-publish a book through Kindle. It is very easy to figure out how to sell pdf books on Amazon and how to sell novels on Amazon using Kindle Direct publishing. 

Note: Keep in mind that Kindle charges a commission fee equal to $0.15 per MB of the file size of your Kindle e-book. So if your book is 3 MB, then the fee will be $0.45 for each book sold

Sourcing Books to Sell on Amazon

So we have covered all the basics of how to get your books on the Amazon books bestseller list . But, if you are not selling your own published books, then where on earth can you find books to sell on Amazon?

Here is a quick summary of some key places where you can source books to sell on Amazon 

  1. Personal Home library
  2. Book sales
  3. Thrift stores
  4. Estate sales
  5. Used book stores
  6. Craigslist
  7. Facebook Marketplace
  8. Private collections
  9. Library sales
  10. Estate sales

These are just a couple of places you can find books to sell. With a bit of creativity, you can find more places to source books.

What Kind of Sourcing Equipment do I Need? 

In addition to finding the right places to find books, you need the right sourcing equipment to identify which books are worth buying and reselling. Fortunately, thanks to technology, you can do this mostly with just a smartphone, though a couple of extra pieces of equipment can make the process easier. 

One of the best services for sourcing books for resale on Amazon is IO Scout. IO Scout is an all-in-one solution for amazon sellers and includes a product finder, chrome extension, keyword research lookup tool, site analytics, and more. The IO Scout BSR calculator will help you find book sales. It will find a good price and rank sales compared to other similar titles. The Chrome extension also allows you to use IO Scout on your browser. 

You can also buy a Bluetooth barcode scanner to scan book barcodes. This is an alternative to using a book scanning app and can usually give faster results. Most modern smartphone cameras can scan barcodes, but they tend to be inaccurate and it takes some time for the camera to focus on the barcode. 

Obviously, you will also need boxes and bags to store all the books that you pick up. You can actually find used boxes for free at several places. For example, book stores often have used boxes that they will give away for free, and so do grocery stores. Otherwise, you can pick up boxes and bags for books fairly cheap at the HomeDepot or another similar home supply store.

Note: It is possible to source new books and resell them on Amazon, but this will be hard to do. So your best bet is to stick to old and used books

Selling Books on Amazon: The Process

Now that we have covered all the basics of selling books on Amazon, let’s talk about the actual process of how to list and sell books. Amazon has streamlined the process of how to make an account and sell goods. 

selling books on amazon

1. Create a Seller Account

Pick a selling plan (Individual or Professional)
Enter in your email address and other relevant personal info (ID, tax info, phone number, etc.)
Complete registration

2. Choose the Amazon Marketplace

  • The marketplace is the main place you will be selling your goods. Amazon lets you pick your specific marketplace, whether its tech, home goods, or (in our cases) books and ebooks. Make sure that you pick the right marketplace for your goods or they will not sell as well. 

3. Start listing books

  • Now it is time to list your books. Amazon lets you tag books by their title, description, categories, and more. Make sure that you put as many relevant tags as you can. That way people will have an easier time searching for your books and they will appear in more search results. 

4. Optimize your listings using IO Scout Amazon Listing Optimization

  • The IO Scout Listing Optimization Service will help you fix your listing keywords descriptions so that they rank the highest possible on search results. You can optimize your listings with recommended keywords that are in demand with Amazon. The IO Scout Amazon Listing Optimization also allows you to focus on hidden keywords so you can get higher search results. 

5. Track your sales/earnings

Now that you have all your listings set up, it's time to keep track of your progress and sales. Fortunately, if you signed up for the Professional selling account, then you get access to useful sales tracking tools to keep track of your total units sold and overall revenue. That is why we highly recommend signing up for the professional plan. It is only $39 a month and makes running your Amazon book business much easier. 

Features Amazon Seller Account Amazon FBA
Pricing $0.99 per item or $39.99 per month Starts at $2.50 per item
Charges commission Yes Yes
Storage included No Yes
Shipping included No Yes

How to Sell Books on Amazon FBA

There is also the option to sell books using Amazon FBA books (FBA = Fulfillment by Amazon). This service is used to provide storage, packaging, and shipping assistance to sellers. With FBA, you don’t have to deal with the physical storage of goods and shipping them yourself. You can send you items to a nearby Amazon warehouse where they are stored until it’s time to sell them. 

Here is a step by step guide on how to sell books and Amazon as an individual or sell books on Amazon as a professional with Amazon FBA:

Create an Amazon FBA account

You can link FBA to an already existing Amazon seller account, so you’ll have to make one of those first
Enter an email address and shipping information
Register your account

Use IO Scout Product Finder

  • The IO Scout Product Finder can help you find books that are worth selling, along with research data and trends. It will also allow you to analyze competitor books status, and also find the right books to sell based on your criteria.

Use IO Scout FBA Calculator

  • IO Scout also has an FBA calculator that crunches the numbers to figure out your expenses and total profits from using Amazon FBA. The Amazon FBA calculator can help you calculate your potential profit-per-book. The IO Scout FBA calculator will also give you some tips on how to minimize expenses while sourcing books and how to maximize profits from selling books.

Buy Book

Send Book to Amazon warehouse

  • FBA covers all shipping and handling costs so you don’t have to worry about paying separately for those. 

Set a Higher FBA Price

FAQ

Why Should you start selling books on Amazon?

Selling books on Amazon is a fun and cost-effective way to make some extra cash on the side or turn into a full-fledged business. Amazon greatly helps streamline the process of selling books using the platform. 

How much does it cost to sell books on Amazon?

It depends on the service you use, but Amazon charges a small commission on each book that you sell. Most of the time, the commission will not cost you more than $2 per sale. 

How to sell books on Amazon for Free?

Unfortunately, you can’t sell books on Amazon entirely for free, otherwise, the company wouldn’t make any money! All selling options involve either a subscription fee or a commission on each sale. 

How much money can you make selling books on Amazon?

It depends on the number of books that you sell, but many people manage to turn selling books on Amazon into a self-sustaining business. It is hard to put an exact dollar amount on it as it depends on a lot of factors. Suffice to say, you can at least make some extra spending cash selling books causally through Amazon. 

How to sell successfully on Amazon?

Selling books successfully on Amazon is all about knowing your market, finding smart deals when sourcing books, and making sure that your product listings are properly optimized through a service like IO Scout.