If you have a stack of books or textbooks you’re looking to sell for one reason or another, one of the best ways to get rid of them is by selling them on your own.
Sure, while there are companies that will pay you instantly for the books you have, you can often make 30 to 50% more, at least from my research.
As long as you have the time to list, package your books and ship them out, to me, it’s worth the effort and time. Honestly, it will only take you minutes to list it and a few minutes to ship it as you can simply drop your books off in your mailbox or even a drop box near you since Amazon lets you print your shipping labels from home.
So, in today’s post, I wanted to show you how you can sell your books on Amazon as, again, I have found them the be the best platform to make the best bang for your buck as Amazon shoppers will see your listing if they are interested in your book.
Whether you want to flip books or simply get rid of some collecting dust, this guide was meant to help you if you have no idea how selling on Amazon works.
How to Sell Books on Amazon
Create a Seller Account
Before you’re even able to sell books on Amazon, you will first be asked to create a “seller’s account” on Amazon. Yes, this is different than your customer account, but you can use the same email and password combination if you so choose. To qualify, Amazon will ask for your passport/driver’s license, bank account information as well as a credit card number for fee payments.
At this time, you will want to determine if you want to sell as an individual or if you want to sign up for a professional account.
Each has its own benefits, as seen below, but I do at least recommend comparing to the two to see what makes sense for your situation.
As you can see, if you’re going to sell a few books here and there, then an individual account makes the most sense since you’re only charged per item sold.
However, if you plan on selling more than 40 items a month, then the professional plan would make more sense financially. Basically, it comes down to how many books you plan on selling monthly.
For now, at least sign up as an individual account since you can always upgrade your account in the near future.
Keep in mind that it can take days to verify your tax and payment information, so don’t expect to start selling the minute you submit your information.
Getting to Know Your Dashboard
Once you sign up for an Amazon seller account, you are then presented with a dashboard, which looks like this…
Now, I know, it can look pretty intimidating at first, but I promise you that it’s pretty easy to learn.
The top menu allows you to view your catalog, inventory, orders, advertising, stores, reports, and performance. I will get into this later, but for now, these links are going to be some of the most important parts of your dashboard.
On the sidebar, you can view your quick stats such as your orders, the orders fulfilled in the past, performance and your messages.
Browse around the dashboard and get comfortable with it, but what you’re going to find out is that you’re mainly going to be in the inventory section 99% of the time. Again, it looks intimidating at first, but it really isn’t, I promise!
How to Start Selling Used Books on Amazon
The great thing about selling books on Amazon is that they don’t really have restrictions like they do with other categories. In short, this simply means that you can sell just about any book in your inventory. While in other product categories, Amazon often restricts buyers unless they apply and get accepted. For example, only some sellers can sell Lego toys.
So, in the end, let it be known that no approval process is needed as anyone can sell books.
To get started selling books on Amazon, it’s extremely easy to do, and let me show you how via my example below. As long as you follow along on your desktop, you should have your first book up and running within minutes.
There’s also an app, which works in the same way. The only difference, however, is that the menus are located in different spots, seeing your phone screen is smaller.
In my example, I’m going to use one of my all-time favorite books, The Millionaire Next Door, and I will show you how to sell it step by step. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you do so!
To start selling, you can do one of two things.
You can either search for the book directly on Amazon using the ISBN or you can sell directly on the dashboard mentioned above. Regardless, it’s important to know the ISBN to ensure that you’re selling the right book. And how you sell really depends on your preferences. It really doesn’t matter.
Selling via Amazon Portal
If you’re on Amazon.com, search for your ISBN, which in this example is 1630762504. I will enter that into Amazon to get my results, as seen below:
Usually, as noted above, it should only bring up one listing, but this isn’t always the case. Just compare the title, editions and author to ensure it’s the one you’re selling.
As long as the listing is accurate, click on it and then proceed to click on the used listings for the particular type you have (hardcover, paperback, etc) as seen here:
Once you click on that link, you will then want to look near the top where it says “Have one to sell?” It’s kind of small, but I promise you that it’s there. You will want to click this.
Doing this will then bring you to a self-explanatory page where you can fill out the details such as your price, the quantity, and condition as seen here:
At this time, you can also choose whether or not you want to ship the item if it sells or if you want Amazon to ship it for you.
If you choose Amazon to ship it for you, then you will have to ship the book to an Amazon fulfillment center. Generally, they will give you a shipment label and ask you to ship your books into their center. Choosing this option does mean you will have to pay an FBA fee and a monthly storage fee, all of which you can find here. Yes, you will pay more fees if you have Amazon do all of the work for you.
If you’re just selling a few books, then it does not make sense to use a fulfillment center as the fees will often offset your profits. It’s hard enough to make money as an individual.
Almost all of the time, you will be better off selling it on your own.
Selling via Your Dashboard
To me, selling via your dashboard is often the easiest as you can insert your ISBN and Amazon does the rest. And, to sell on your seller’s dashboard, here’s what you do.
First, you will want to highlight the “Catalog” tab, followed by clicking on “Add Products.”
Then, enter your ISBN or if you so choose, the UPC, EAN, ASIN or product name. Again, since we’re selling books here, I recommend you use the ISBN to ensure that you’re selling the right book
From there, click on the “Listing limitations apply” and click on the “Sell Yours” button.
Doing this will bring you to the same screen as mentioned prior.
You will enter your price, the condition, quantity, etc and continue.
After submitting, your book will then be live in your inventory.
Pricing Your Books
Once you’re on the “Offer” screen, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re pricing your books aggressively so that they sell fast, and to find out what others are selling for, you’re going to want to look at the stats, all of which Amazon provides.
In my example of the Millionaire Next Door book, these were the stats I was presented with, for example:
As you can see, the cheapest used book at the time of this review was $5.77 plus shipping, so that pretty much means I will need to sell less than this if I wanted to sell it fast.
But like eBay or selling at a garage sale, you can sell your book for whatever you wish. A higher price, however, can mean you could be waiting quite sometime before it does sell, if it even sells at all.
Now, as a note, just because you list your book for the lowest price, it doesn’t mean it will sell right away since other sellers can beat your price by a penny right away. This is why it’s going to be important to check out your inventory on occasion.
Don’t Forget to Check the Sales Rank!
And as a last note, always make sure you pay close attention to the “Amazon Sales Rank” as this will give you a good idea as to whether or not this book is in demand. The lower this number is, the more sales there are, and sellers often recommend you look at books ranked 200,000 or lower to ensure they sell fast.
Yes, while books higher in rank can sell, just keep in mind that it could take longer than average. In my personal opinion, I wouldn’t even bother with books ranked higher than 300,000.
So, in my example, that 3,661 rank is quite good, meaning that my listing will probably sell within the next day or so as long as it’s priced aggressively.
Checking Your Price and Fees
Now that the book is listed, it’s now a waiting game, but before you get excited, review your numbers to make sure everything makes sense.
To do this, log in to your seller account and click on “Manage Inventory” beneath your “Inventory” tab.
In doing so, you will see your current active inventory as seen here:
Here, you’re going to be able to view your book for sale, the fee preview, your price and the lowest price at that time. The lowest price is always a great one to look at because, most of the time, you’re going to want to be as close or lower than this number to ensure your book sells fast. Many sellers update their prices constantly, so don’t be surprised if you log in an hour later and find out someone is already beating you by a penny.
Looking at this graphic, you can see that the lowest price right now is “$5.77,” whereas my price is $23, much higher than the lower price.
In my case, I would want to lower it to at least $6, but in doing so, my fees would outweigh my profit so it really wouldn’t make much sense.
Speaking of fees…
Look at the Fees
You’re going to want to check in on your inventory just to see if your price is aggressive enough, of course, but you will also want to look at your “fee preview” as well to make sure everything makes sense.
Using my example, my break-even point would be $6.84 to just walk away with nothing, but as you can see, the lowest price is selling for $5.77, so can I really make money? Probably not. This fee is what Amazon will take after your sale.
As mentioned in the beginning, Amazon will take a variety of fees, regardless of what account you have, from a “per-item” to referral and variable fee, you can break this down to see what you’re going to be responsible for.
Generally, as long as you can spring a profit and be within that lower price or continue to match or even beat the price by a penny, you can be certain yours will be one of the first to sell when someone wants to buy it. The goal here is to make sure you’re making a profit and your price is aggressive. In some cases, it doesn’t make sense, so I would recommend you either sell your book at a garage sale or even donate it. You may be doing this a lot, sadly!
Depending on your price and the sales rank, your book could sell in as little as a few minutes or months in some cases. It all depends on the demand and price.
Even when you list your book, again, the job doesn’t stop there as you should keep checking in on your inventory to make sure your price is the lowest or quite aggressive to ensure that the first buyer to the listing chooses yours over someone else. I would recommend checking your listing every few days just to see how it compares to other books.
Your Item Sold — Now What?
If you found the right price and priced it high enough to make a profit, it’s really a waiting game from here, however, once it sells, you will receive an e-mail notification to your email address on file and it will look something like this:
Once you see this e-mail, log into your account, click on the “Unshipped” tab on the left-hand side of your screen if using your desktop. It will look something like this…
Click on that “unshipped” tab and it will then take you to the item that needs to be shipped.
Here, you will then click on the “Buy shipping” icon if you’re going to ship it on your own. Remember, if you chose the FBA option, wherein you shipped it directly to Amazon, then they do all of the work for you, so you wouldn’t have to do any of this.
Clicking this link will bring you directly to the shipping label, wherein you can print and slap on your packaging to drop off in a mailbox. Amazon will give you credit, depending on the shipment option chosen by the buyer, so these shipping fees are not factored into the fee schedule I mentioned prior.
Like eBay or selling online for anything, make sure you ship out as fast as you can so that you can keep your reviews high! Think of it from a buyer’s perspective. Would you want to wait for weeks for a book? Probably not.
The minute you see that sold status, print out your label and get it to a mailbox within 24 hours. As long as it’s in great condition, you’re fast at shipping and you offer great customer service, you shouldn’t have a problem keeping a five-star review.
Waiting for Payment
Once your item sells and you confirm your shipment, it will take up to two weeks to receive your payment, all of which is sent via ACH to the bank on file. Just make sure you have an active bank account on file to ensure there are no disruptions in your payment.
You can also check for payment updates via the “payments” tab that’s beneath the “Reports” subheading at the top of the menu.
As more and more people use Amazon to sell their books and other products for that matter, do keep in mind that there’s a lot of competition of Amazon, often leading to very slim profit margins.
While I personally wouldn’t recommend jumping into book flipping full-time, it could be an awesome side job if you want to scan the items at your local thrift store or browse a garage. You can often find some gems, but try to look at it as a hobby.
There is money to be made, but it’s up to you to really find those books that have great profit margins at the end of the day.
For now, I hope this guide helps you sell your books on Amazon. While this seems like a lot to learn, it gets easier as you sell, especially if you use the smartphone app as you can simply scan and upload within seconds.
In the meantime, feel free to share your tips, frustrations and/or even ask your questions as I will do my best to answer them.
Best of luck!
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