How to Make Money Selling Books Online on Amazon.com
Would you like to make money selling books?
Hi! I am a bookseller on Amazon.com. It's a great way to make some extra money. Some people even sell used books online as a full-time job. Whether you are interesting in selling some of your own books, or starting a business selling used books, I hope that you find some good tips and advice here.
People buy books for entertainment, for information, or for collecting. Books people buy just for entertainment are usually fiction novels, and these sell for the cheapest. If a novel is rare, or a first edition, then it might also be a collectible, which increases its value. Nonfiction books can sell for a lot of money sometimes, depending on the value of the information.
Have some books to sell? Go get one of them and come back to this page. I'll guide you through the process!
How I Started Selling Books
It's fun to make money!
I first started selling books when I was in college. Like many students, I was really needing to make some money.
At the end of the semester, I found that students would leave stuff that they didn't want in the donation bins which were in the basement of the dorms. I started looking through the donation bins, and to my surprise, sometimes I found textbooks! Knowing how expensive textbooks are, I was quick to figure out that I could sell them online! This is how I began selling books.
Of course that source dried up after the semester was over with, so if I wanted to keep making money, I would have to find more books to sell. I had to make a leap from selling books I found for free to buying books for resell. I started to go to thrift stores and talk to my husband on the phone and ask him to look up the value of books I found.
Now, I use my smartphone to look up books at thrift stores. I also buy some books online. It takes a lot of experience and learning to know which books might be valuable. Trial and error, online research, and reading bookselling blogs, are just some of the ways I've learned which books might be worth buying!
There is a learning curve in doing anything that's really worth doing. Selling books is no different. I also branched out and began selling other things and on other websites like Ebay. (If Ebay interests you, check out my article on increasing Ebay sales.)
It's EASY to start selling on Amazon.com
and that's why it's a good place to start.
You can sell lots of things on Amazon: books, CDs, DVDs, movies, toys, and even electronics, if you are approved. Actually, you can (try to) sell almost anything on their website.
However, it's easiest to sell items that are already on Amazon, such as most books. All you need to do is click on the "Sell Yours Here" button on the page of the item you want to sell. The button is in the right hand column, just a bit below where you would add the item to your cart.
It's important to start out on the right foot. When you sell on Amazon, you are selling on a worldwide marketplace of high stature, and it's important that you provide excellent customer service so that you will receive stellar feedback and build an honest reputation.
How much is that book worth? - type it into the search here to find out!
It's best to enter the ISBN number, usually on the back of the book or on the copyright page.
You can start now by entering the ISBN number in the white search box below, and then clicking "GO."
Are you a "Just Launched" Seller?
This is what Amazon calls new sellers with no feedback.
If you are, give me a reason to buy from you!
Price lower, give a good description of your book, promise to ship it fast, say something to stand out!
Take a few minutes to think of something to put into the comments box... Something other than "PICK ME! PICK ME!"
That's not going to cut it.
How much money will I make?
Remember that Amazon takes a commission!
When you list an item on Amazon, Amazon will tell you what you will get if the item sells. Make sure that this is enough money to cover the cost of shipping it, packaging it, and taking it to the post office (unless you are doing carrier pickup).
Amazon takes a 15% commission, plus they deduct a 99 cent fee, plus a variable closing fee. This variable closing fee is deducted from the shipping cost that the buyer pays and the amount depends on the shipping method. Often, after the variable closing fee is deducted from the shipping amount paid, the amount you will receive for shipping will be less than you might actually have to pay for shipping. If you are sending the item by Media Mail and it is a standard book (not very heavy) the difference might only be about $1. However, that means to break even, you'll have to sell the book for at least $3. This is an approximate guess. If you're going to sell books for this cheap, make sure that you do the math!
Since I value my time, I don't usually sell books for under $10.... Although I used to. Of course money does add up, so if you can sell a lot of books and make a buck on each one, then that's great. But if you are only selling a few books, is your time and effort worth it?
Look for high value books... You will be much more pleased with the money you can make!!
Where to find books to resell? - Building your inventory takes some work!
Here's a list I wrote in a notebook a number of years ago.
- Yard & Estate Sales - Look in the newspaper & on craigslist
- Library Sales - Locate library book sales here.
- University Book Sales - Call University Libraries
- Bookstore Sales - Look for a Bargains Table
- Thrift Stores
- Independent Book Stores - sometimes you can find underpriced treasures!
- Church Rummage Sales
How to Price Books so that they will sell pretty fast... - Online Pricing Strategies
If you don't care how long it takes your book to sell, or if you'd rather make more money on it than sell it for cheap, go ahead and price it at whatever you want.
Here are some tips that I think help me price my books in a way that attracts buyers.
Note, some books won't sell fast no matter how much you price them at, because the demand is low. It is very normal for some books to take a year or longer to sell.
- Look at what other sellers are selling the book for, and consider the condition of your book. If it is in poor condition, price it lower. It is is in like new condition, price it a bit higher.
- Consider the price of New versus Used. Many people would rather buy new books. Pricing a used copy at least a few dollars lower than a new copy is a good idea.
- Consider availability. Sometimes Amazon says that they have a book available but it says "Will ship in 3-6 Weeks." In those cases, you can often price your book higher than Amazon's price, since you have the book available to ship right away.
- Consider feedback ratings. If your feedback rating is higher, then you have the advantage over some sellers and may be able to price higher.
- Consider shipping costs. Amazon, and sellers that use the Fulfillment by Amazon program, offer free shipping on books over $25. If you do not use the Fulfillment by Amazon program, then, your buyers are always charged shipping costs. Furthermore, some buyers are part of Amazon prime, which means that if they buy from Amazon, they receive free or discounted shipping. Therefore, you may need to price at least $4+ dollars lower than Amazon's new price.
- Consider other venues. Many buyers do comparison shopping. Consider checking out what your book costs on other websites through sites such as Addall.com New Book Search, Addall Used and Out of Print Book Search, and Campusi.com
- Consider price psychology. For example, people are more likely to buy something that costs $19.99 than $20 because the price looks better.
Mistakes I Made
Don't do what I did!
One mistake I made very early in my bookselling career was mailing a book without the delivery confirmation tracking number. The person claimed that they didn't receive it, and I had to refund their money!
I never again sent anything without tracking, and always having a tracking number is very useful! It solves many of the "Where's my book?" customer inquiries. Sometimes packages are missent by the post office and this delays their arrival.
Occasionally, a buyer tries a scam and says that they didn't receive it when the delivery confirmation number says that they did indeed receive it! In these cases, I tell them that I will contact the authorities and have them investigate mail fraud, which is a federal felony. This usually causes scammers to quickly write back saying that they did receive their book! It's easy to tell apart scammers and people who are genuine.
Another mistake I made once was to not verify the address on the computer generated shipping label. I was using Paypal to print out the address label with the postage on it, but for some reason, Paypal cut off the address and the apartment number disappeared from the address. I didn't notice this, and so I sent the book, and it was never delivered nor returned to me. I had to send a replacement book. So now I ALWAYS compare the address label to the shipping address I'm given. You just can't trust computers to be 100% accurate.
Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes
- Don't ship books in manila envelopes!
- Don't confuse orders and send the wrong book to each customer!
- For standard shipping, tell the postal employee you want it sent by MEDIA MAIL
Learn from an Expert
The Ultimate Resources for Selling on Amazon
- Amazon Seller Community
Discussion boards for Amazon sellers. Learn from thousands of fellow sellers. If you are new, read the "Help for New Sellers" bulletin board and use the search function to find the answer to your question. Most new sellers have the same questions, s
- Survival on the River
Earthmom's guidelines to selling on Amazon.com, with some very practical information.
How to look up book prices on your cell phone
You can use almost any modern cell phone to look up the value of a book while you are "out in the field." I used to use Scoutpal, and have also read many good recommendations for ASellerTool.com Basically you use your cell phone to connect to their service for a low monthly fee. Then you just type in the ISBN number and it will return the current selling prices on Amazon.com.
G1 Google Phone has Application for Barcode Scanning - You can use ANY ANDROID PHONE for this!
This video shows how a G1 Google Phone can be used as a barcode reader, which makes a great scouting tool! The program is currently free (Shop Savvy). It uses the phone's camera to scan the barcode, and then the program searches the web to display the lowest online cost. It searches places like Amazon, Half.com and so on... It even retrieves reviews and then, if you want, you can click through to the website.
This method is a speedy way to look up what a book is worth!
How to Print Shipping Labels Online - and why should you?
1. It's more professional than hand-written.
2. It will likely arrive at its destination faster. (Computers can automatically sort your package)
3. Electronic Delivery Confirmation is cheap!
4. If you are mailing at least one priority or express mail package, you can request carrier pickup and never leave the house.
5. No special labels needed! Just use glue sticks or tape to attach the label to your package, but do NOT tape over barcodes!
- Paypal: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now
Go to the above link to print your shipping label on Paypal. If you are not already signed into your Paypal account, you will be prompted to login.Advantages: It's FREE, and you can print Media Mail, U.S. First Class, U.S. & International Priorit
- Click N' Ship at USPS.com
This is the post office's official website. You can print postage for Priority & Express Mail, U.S. and International. You can NOT print Media or First class mail. The international priority mail labels are easy to print out through Click & S
Get Up to $25 in FREE Postage!
Save time by printing pre-paid shipping labels from your desk, ready for pickup & customized with your branding; Streamline your fulfillment by integrating order management & tracking shipments online; and more.
Get a Postal Scale - this is a good deal
Need Money Fast?
You can sell your books TODAY!
If you don't want to wait around for a buyer, you can sell your books directly to Amazon. Just look for this image on the right hand side of the book's product page.
Amazon will give you money in the form of an Amazon gift card.
Need cash instead? I've read good reviews on the following websites, which will buy books: Collegebooksdirect.com, Textbooks.com, and CKY Books - just to name a few websites! If you do a google search for "sell book" you will see lots of websites advertising that they can buy your books! However, always research a company before doing business with them, to make sure it's not a scam!
You generally won't make as much money as if you listed the book for sale and waited for a buyer, but you don't have to wait for a sale. I wouldn't recommend doing this on any really popular books. Look at Amazon's sales rank. It's listed under the "Product details" section. If the sales rank is really low, like under 10,000, it's very likely to sell fast.
You can also sell your books to Half Priced Books - which is a chain bookstore. Check to see if they have a store in your area.
If you would like to leave a comment, please go ahead :)