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How to Sell Books on Amazon in 2020

2020, 03, 13, Friday 01:45
Home Amazon Business How to Sell Books on Amazon in 2020
3 Reasons to Start Selling Books on Amazon
3 Ways to Sell Books on Amazon 
Sourcing Books to Sell on Amazon 
How to Start Selling Books Business on Amazon?

Passive income, six-figures per week, and traveling ‘round the world! These are the expressions you see when you try to find a product to sell on Amazon, thus starting your online business. Well, the truth is, you shouldn’t get too excited, as there is no such thing as passive income, and to reach six-figures money flow requires hard work. So, why should you even start selling books or anything else on Amazon? Because it works, if you put in the work. With books, earning your first dollars is easy, and it can give you the confidence boost you need to get started.

In the guide below, you’ll read about how to sell books on Amazon, while we also grant you step by step guides, and tons of advice to help you get started. Success, however, can’t ever be guaranteed, but if you work for it, you long for it, then you may eventually reach it! Let’s dig in and see what do you need to know about selling books on Amazon .

3 Reasons to Start Selling Books on Amazon

There are numerous reasons why one should consider selling books on Amazon, instead of dropping them in a donation can or bulk-sell them on Craigslist or eBay . In the following section, we provide you with three primary reasons why we should consider selling used books on Amazon (or new ones, we’ll get there a bit later).

how to sell on amazon book

Super-easy to start!

In general, selling your used books on the Amazon marketplace is one of the easiest things in the world. You just have to set up your account (a step by step guide is featured below) as an individual seller, and then you can start making your listings. As a total beginner, you might wonder: where to get books to sell? Well, go down the basement of your home, or check out boxes and crates in the loft - you may also ask around friends and family to get some books for free. This way, you’ll have a starter inventory, which you can easily manage and send to your buyers. Later on, as you get the hang of it, you might become a real professional and have that steady flow of income you seek!

Low investment requirements!

When starting an online business, some investment is always recommended. It’s the most fundamental principle of running a business. However, when you decide to try your wings in selling on Amazon, listing books is the simplest and cheapest way to go. The required investment is low, mainly if you sell your books first. There are no fees to pay in advance; Amazon takes its share by the sales you make; your expenses are mostly related to packaging and shipping. On the other hand, with low risks, the return is also quite small. It is excellent for starting, however.

Build up to a steady flow of income!

Selling your old books on Amazon won’t yield fortunes, but it’s a great way to get an extra cash flow, while you also tidy up your bookshelves. Later on, you might have a tremendous and precious income source from selling off your old books. By expanding your sources, thus building up an inventory, you could earn even more. Our guide is here to help you along the way, mainly because finding a right niche, sourcing books, and building a business around this will be hard. Work always pays, and selling books on Amazon is a kind of lazy way to make money. Just don’t get mad about it!

If you would like to know how to sell books on Amazon, continue reading as we are getting into details about it!

3 Ways to Sell Books on Amazon 

Amazon offers you three methods to sell books, but from these three, there are only two, which earns you actual money. These options are:

  • Amazon book trade-in
  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Amazon marketplace

The Amazon Trade-in program

Before we get into the finer details of methodology for book selling, it is worth pointing out an integration tool which can help your Amazon business. IO Scout’s 24/7 expert chat feature is there to assist in the daily running of your Amazon business, and provide real-time, instant solutions to your queries. You can speak to Amazon experts about navigating your successful journey to book selling on Amazon.

This isn’t exactly a method to sell books on Amazon, but rather a way to get rid of books to get Amazon gift cards. Then you can use those gift cards to purchase whatever you want. The Amazon sell back books program is an excellent way to get off some books from your shelves, and earn a bit. You can check whether there is a demand for the books you have without even signing in. The process goes like this:

  • You find a book, and check it’s trade-in option on Amazon and fill the submit form.
  • Print a shipping label (pre-paid) and send the book to Amazon. You’ve got seven days to do so.
  • Amazon notifies you about the states of the book (denied or accepted). If denied, there are no return costs.
  • You have the option to check your gift card balance or view the status via the Trade-In account.

sell books to amazon

Kindle Direct Publishing

Kindle Publishing is actually where big money lies. Since this article is about selling real books which have been written and published someone else, we are only scratching the surface of Kindle Publishing so that you could get the idea. Now, when you search the web for info about selling books on Amazon, you eventually stumble upon sites where they flash promises of enormous income and no-work workdays with publishing with the Kindle program.

The Kindle Direct Publishing is a digital publishing house that helps you to self-publish your book without going through the fuss with real publishers. The fact you have complete control of your paper and you can get up to 70% (or 60% for prints) royalty is very tempting. However, all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold. Only a well-written, strictly lectured, and highly demanded book can sell well on Amazon. Some niches can earn you a steady income, but you have to be a real authority-like figure to write real value. We recommend you to scour through the web to find an excellent idea, a niche-gap somewhere, and start writing your book on the topic slowly. Why? Simply because you might prove to be good at it. And while you wait for your listed books to sell, you got time to write and gather ideas. 

For self-publishing these days, Kindle Direct Publishing is a right way, and there is always a demand for valuable and real information! If you have the right idea, and you can put the work in it, you could achiever great success!

Selling books on Amazon

Now, for the fun part. As we’ve already stated, this article is about how to sell books on Amazon. We’re talking about used books mostly, but as you will see in the next section (Sourcing books to sell on Amazon), you don’t necessarily have to stick with dusty old books.

Every business has to start somewhere, and you will see that starting small could lead up to real success and a steady income to operate with. Did you know that Amazon started as an online bookstore , back in 1995? Of course, you won’t be able to copy Amazon’s success, but as an individual, there is still a chance to earn. The world of printed books is still a huge industry, and there is a high demand for the written word. No e-book reader can give you back the feel of a real book, and it never will.

Let’s talk about the profitability of selling books at the world’s largest retailer. To do that, we should clarify what kind of seller accounts you can choose from at Amazon:

  • Individual seller
  • Professional Seller

Individual seller

An individual seller’s account is quite easy to manage, and it features a per-sale fee system. With this type of account, you have the option to sell up to 40 items per month, while Amazon takes a selling fee ($0.99/sale), a referral fee (15% for books), and a closing fee ($1.80/sale).

As you can see, there is a minimum price you should try to sell your books if you want to make a profit. With a maximum of 40 sales per month, the individual seller account is the way to go. Let us do a quick calculation for you to see the differences!


You have several older books which you find sellable (we will show you how to research the books later in this guide), let’s say, you have 40 of them. You set the price for each of them at $20, which means that you expect $800 profit by the end of the month. The math goes like this: Amazon takes $39.6 as a selling fee, the referral fee adds up to $120, and the closing fees go up to $72. Your income is $568. But this isn’t the profit since you have to pay for packaging and shipping. Let’s say you have some cardboards and tapes at home, so boxing doesn’t cost you. Postage with USPS is around $8 for a small box, so you have to calculate with $320 postage fees ($400 would be more realistic), and your final profit is $248.

Professional Seller

There are two significant differences between the individual and the professional accounts. One is the fee: the individual sellers pay a flat per sale fee, while professionals pay $39.99 per month without the per sale fee. The second difference is the range of tools available: as a professional, you gain access to different statistics and inventory management tools. And there is also a third difference: there is no limit on product listings!

So, where does a Professional Seller account start to worth the monthly price? Let’s see the example again, but assume that you list three books every day (since it takes only a few minutes) for 30 days, and the $20 price: 30*3*$20=$1800. Take the closing fees and the referral fees from this: $1800-$162-$270=$1368. Package and postage are around $10 per book: $1368-$900= $468, and if we take the monthly fee, you are left with $428 as pure profit. Considering that you might have a full-time job, it’s a subtle side income, and it can pay a few bills.

Now, we have to go on, so let’s draw a bottom line here: professional seller account is for sellers who have a large bunch of books, and they can sell them for a higher price with low package and shipping costs.

Sourcing Books to Sell on Amazon 

You might wonder about the matter of sourcing books to sell on Amazon. In this section, we take a closer look at this question to provide you with some ample ideas about where to start. 

The most common ways to source books to sell are:

  • Sell your own books (including friends and family books too)
  • Buy books cheap or in bulks and sell them for a higher price
  • Grab wholesale deals
  • Find free books online or in your location

Method 1: Find books at home and at your friends

This is the most basic solution to gather an inventory. With the Amazon seller app, you can scan the books and see their rankings and some other information. This way, you know how to build your inventory and what to look for. Choose books in right conditions, and don’t try to sell new books you just finished reading - that’s almost impossible since you could end up competing with Amazon itself. Vintage books, textbooks are quite popular these days.

Method 2: Grab books cheap

Garage yard sales, estate sales, and business closing sales are right places to grab lots of books for a lot cheaper. At these sales, you can make offers to buy large bulks of books, and from the piles, some precious books might hide. For the first period of your online bookselling business, you should take some time and visit such sales. It’s a secure, worthwhile method.

Method 3: Wholesale deals

A good wholesale deal could get you a significant inventory and a long-time income, while you can also take advantage of the FBA program. 

Method 4: Hunt for free books

Craigslist, Facebook marketplace are great ways to get your hands on free books. Most of them will end up in a charity bin, but there are always books you’ll find sellable and valuable for your little online business.  

How to Start Selling Books Business on Amazon?

Step 1: Setup your Amazon account

Deciding to start selling books on Amazon is an easy one to make. Setting up your seller’s account isn’t that hard, either. The signup process is pretty straightforward, and it requires only a few minutes. First, you’ll have to enter your name, email, and the password you wish to use. The rest of the process is straightforward. It takes only a few minutes, and if you choose the Individual plan, you have nothing to pay at the end of the registration. Once inside, you can start exploring.

amazon sell back books

Step 2: Collect your books and see their profitability

It’s an in-between step, which you have to do all the time before you list a book. There are many ways to check the selling price of a book. Take a look at the pictures below. As you can see, the Leviathan Wakes is a popular book, and there are way too many used editions to compete with. What does this mean? It means you shouldn’t try to sell your The Expanse series yet if you want to profit from it. In case you are trying to get some positive reviews, then selling popular books is a fine, but not profitable way.

how to sell used books on amazon

There are numerous profitability calculators (Amazon has one too), and it’s recommended to try one of them, primarily because many of these apps can provide historical data. This means you can view the previous price changes, and with the estimated values, you have the chance to price your books just right.

Step 3: Create your listings

To create your listing and start selling your books, you’ll have to enter some details, such as: 

  • SKU: this is a unique identifier for your product. You can either enter it or leave blank to be filled by Amazon.
  • Your price: enter the price you would like to sell your book at. Try to go for the lower ends so that the book could sell.
  • Quantity: if you have more than one of the same book, you can list them all at once. 
  • Condition: Measure the books’ health carefully; don’t try to lie; otherwise, you’ll have to face the customers’ wrath.
  • Fulfillment channel: At first, you’ll probably go with the FBM method, so you’ll handle the packages, while later on, you might try the FBA to get some work off your shoulders.

Step 4: Decide on the fulfillment method

Now, with a more massive pile of books, you might find it a hideous task to pack and ship all one by one. For this solution, the FBA program would be a great choice, as it offers you a full service. You only have to ship the books to the nearest Fulfillment Centre, and they will handle the rest. If you join the FBA program, it will prove to be quite easy to sell books; however, due to the FBA fees and the usual referral fees, the profit margin is a bit lower. If you choose the FBM or the fulfilled by merchant (you) method, you’ll have to handle the packaging and shipping yourself. Also, the FBA is a bit slower because you have to wait for the products to reach the fulfillment center where they process them, which takes up to 1-2 weeks.

Step 5: See what sells and focus on that!

It’s not a real step, but rather a process you have to go over again and again while you run your Amazon books business. For example, these books ought to sell a bit better than others:

  • Textbooks
  • Comic books (older the better)
  • Niche books
  • Non-fiction
  • Collectibles and hardcovers


Well, as you can see, selling used books on Amazon is a great idea, and it’s also an excellent way to start a small business. We hope our guide helped you along the way, and we were able to give you the idea as to what to do and what to get. If you seriously consider running an online business based on bookselling, try to do so with finesse and be smart about it! In case you are looking for the best, and cheapest way to start selling at Amazon and build up your reputation, the books are your best choices. These are probably the most easies to source, their packaging and shipping costs are quite low, and with FBA it could get even lower.Good luck, and we hope you’ll find that niche or gap you can profit from!


What is the cost to sell books on Amazon?

There are different fees you have to pay to Amazon, and then there are your acquisition, packing, and shipping costs. As an individual seller, you’ll have to pay the flat $0.99, the 15% referral fee, and the $1.80 closing fees. Apart from that, you have circa $10 shipping costs. Pro sellers have to pay the monthly payment ($39.99), the closing and referral fee (15% and $1.8), and also the shipping and packing fees. If you choose the FBA method, you’ll have to calculate with some other costs, but it might be more profitable! 

Can I sell books on Amazon for free?

No. Every seller has to pay the different fees associated with deals made on Amazon. These fees are not that high, however, so there is some profit left for you. Since it's a large business, and Amazon takes a lot of the work from your shoulders' it's only necessary to pay the price.

Can you sell books back to Amazon?

Amazon has a trade-in program. If you have a book you don’t need, and it wouldn’t sell too well, you can check if there is a trade-in need for it. In case there is, you can send the book to Amazon, and they will reward you with some Amazon gift card balance.

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