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How to Sell Books on Amazon: A Step-by-Step Guide to Online Book Sales

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  • September 4, 2023
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  • 11 min read


Selling books online presents a fantastic opportunity for a steady income stream or even the foundation of a thriving online business.

Amazon is one of your best bets if you want to make a living from book sales. While other platforms like Etsy and eBay are great for selling niche items, Amazon has the industry’s highest traffic and conversion rates.

In this guide, Book Writing Founders will show you how to set up your account, find products, and sell them on Amazon.

Why Sell Books Online?

In a world of diverse entertainment options, books maintain a resilient demand. Here are some of the reasons why you should Sell Books online:

  • Quick Start with Minimal Inventory
  • Wide Genre Selection
  • Cash or Credit Options
  • Multiple Selling Approaches—by title, ISBN, weight, or barcode scanning.

Is Selling Books on Amazon Profitable?

Before diving into the details, you’re likely pondering the feasibility of making money by selling books. The unequivocal answer is a resounding yes.

Countless success stories populate the internet, showcasing individuals who have turned to Sell Books into a lucrative side hustle or even a full-time career. The allure lies in the impressive profit margins, where a book purchased for a few dollars can be resold for ten times that amount or more.

However, not every book is a goldmine. As with any product you intend to sell, meticulous research is crucial to identify books with the highest demand.

In this pursuit, Amazon emerges as the prime platform for book sales, commanding over 50% of the print book market and three-quarters of the ebook market.

Cost to Sell Books on Amazon:

The beauty of this business is its affordability. Starting with just a few books, costing as little as a dollar or two each makes it accessible even with a modest budget. Alternatively, you can purchase a larger inventory if you have more capital—it’s entirely up to you.

The primary cost to factor in is your Amazon account fee. Choosing a Professional Seller account incurs a monthly fee of $39.99, a modest amount compared to many other business ventures.

Selling books on Amazon entails a 15% referral fee and a $1.80 closing fee per book sold. If you opt for Amazon’s fulfillment service, an additional 20% of your average revenue will be dedicated to this service.

The total cost varies based on book price, size, weight, and royalty fees.

But keep in mind that if you hire a book writing services provider and a book editing services provider to help you write a book to sell on Amazon, that will further increase your cost.

(Moreover, self-publishing entails additional Fixed Publishing Costs, unlike selling a pre-written book on Amazon.)

Let’s examine an example.

Consider “It Ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover; at a time, it was among the best-selling books on Amazon.

With a paperback pricing of $9.99, weighing 10.40 ounces, and dimensions of 5.31 x 0.9 x 8.25 inches, the breakdown of costs is as follows:

Amazon referral fees: $1.50

Closing fee: $1.80

Fulfillment fee: $4.75

Storage fee: $0.03

For a $9.99 book, Amazon charges a total fee of approximately $8.08. The seller stands to gain a net profit of $1.91 per book, translating to a 19% profit margin.

Understanding these costs is vital for anyone venturing into selling books on Amazon.

Ways to estimate your sales and profit when you Sell Books on Amazon:

Now that we have seen the profitability and cost factors, the critical question arises: how can you ensure that what you’re selling will be profitable?

Before making any purchases for resale, several factors warrant careful consideration.

Check the Best Sellers Rank (BSR):

Assessing the product’s rank is paramount. A low Best Sellers Rank indicates high sales potential, while a high rank suggests sluggish sales.

On Amazon, every product, including books, is assigned a BSR. The lower the BSR, the more frequently the product sells.

For instance, a book ranked #1 experiences robust daily sales, while a book ranked #1,000,000 may not sell for months. Locate a book’s Best Sellers Rank on its product details page.

Estimate Your Profit:

Once you’ve deemed a book suitable based on rank, the next step is determining your profit. Employ a book scanner app or the Amazon Seller app for this purpose.

These apps provide valuable insights into potential profitability. Another option is Amazon’s free FBA Revenue Calculator.

Input the book’s ISBN, enter your costs, and the calculator will reveal the fees you’ll incur and your potential profit.

What types of books can you sell online?

Selling books offers a variety of formats, including hardcovers, paperbacks, and ebooks. When entering the market, you can choose from categories such as New, Like New, Very Good, Good, and Acceptable.

Here are some popular options to consider:

Sell New Books Online:

Some readers prefer the allure of a pristine, brand-new book. Typically sourced from wholesalers, distributors, or publishers, new books can be lucrative, though buying in bulk may be necessary for this venture.

Sell Used Books Online:

Secondhand books present an accessible and cost-effective option. Locally or online, you can find good deals on used books, making them potentially more profitable.

Utilize your collection or explore local used bookstores, thrift shops, estate sales, online selling platforms, library sales, and neighborhood yard sales.

Sell Books Without an ISBN:

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) are crucial for book identification, but books printed before 1970 might lack them.

In such cases, you can request an exemption to sell these books on Amazon, opening up opportunities for unique and vintage pieces.

Sell Collectibles or Rare Books Online:

The world of antique and vintage books caters to niche markets, appealing to enthusiasts of classic literature. Honesty in listing each book’s condition is paramount when dealing with older collectibles.

Sell Ebooks Online:

For aspiring authors, self-publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) provides a platform to share your literary creations with a global audience. KDP offers control over rights, pricing, flexibility for changes, and the opportunity to earn royalties on sales.

Steps to Sell Books Online On Amazon:

The journey to sell your books on Amazon involves several strategic steps. Here’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide to get you started:

Step 1: Decide What Type of Books to Sell:

Begin by assessing what types of books you want to sell. Utilize your existing collection or explore various channels to build your inventory:

   – Wholesale:

Procure books in bulk online, at bookstore closings, or directly from distributors/publishers for potential cost savings.

   – Local Sources:

Search for used books at local library sales, secondhand bookstores, yard sales, thrift shops, and estate sales.

   – Auctions:

Attend auctions, estate, or farm sales for used or collectible books. Evaluate the condition of each book according to the guidelines of the selling platform you choose, such as Amazon’s detailed condition guidelines.

Step 2: Create Your Ecommerce Bookstore

Establishing an ecommerce bookstore is a pivotal step. You can opt for a single website or explore multiple sales channels, but be diligent in managing inventory across platforms.

Consider creating your website or using an ecommerce storefront for broader reach. If you choose Amazon, select a selling plan to tap into a vast online customer base.

 Step 3: Figure Out How You’ll Fulfill Orders

The handling of shipping depends on your chosen fulfillment method. Options include:

   –  Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN):

Manage inventory, packing, and shipping independently.

   –  Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA):

Ship books to an Amazon Fulfillment Center, and they handle storage, packing, shipping, customer service, and returns. FBA also grants the coveted Prime badge for eligible offers, appealing to customers seeking fast, free shipping.

Whether you choose MFN or FBA, ensuring timely and well-packaged deliveries enhances trust and increases the likelihood of repeat sales. Evaluate the pros and cons of each fulfillment method based on your preferences and business model.

Step 4: Set your book pricing

Determining the pricing for your books involves considering multiple factors, with book type and condition being pivotal. Stay attuned to the prices set by other sellers and adjust accordingly, with the flexibility to modify your prices at any time.

Key elements influencing book prices include:

–  Condition of the Book:

Assessing the state of the book, whether it’s in pristine condition or shows signs of wear, significantly impacts its pricing.

–  New or Used:

Distinguish between new and used books, each carrying different market values. New books may command higher prices, while used ones might be more budget-friendly.

–  Collectible Status:

The collectibility factor, especially for items like first editions, can substantially elevate the book’s value.

Additionally, it’s crucial to factor in packing and shipping costs when determining your pricing strategy. Amazon sellers can use A useful cost calculator to estimate your per-unit sales margin.

 Step 5: List Books for Sale

Whether listing books individually or in bulk, your ecommerce solution’s capabilities dictate your approach. On Amazon, a straightforward method involves navigating to the product page and following these steps:

  1. Enter the book’s ISBN code into Amazon’s search bar or manually input the title for pre-1970 editions.
  2. On the product listing page, click “Sell on Amazon.”
  3. Input the SKU of your choice or let Amazon generate one.
  4. Set your price manually or by matching the lowest available.
  5. Specify the total quantity, defaulting to one unit.
  6. Choose the condition honestly, a critical factor for customer satisfaction.
  7. Select your fulfillment channel, deciding between Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) or Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

 Step 6: Boost Book Sales with Marketing and Promotion

Elevate your bookselling business through an effective book marketing strategy:

–  Utilize Social Media:

Leverage the power of social media to expand your business reach. Identify your target audience and promote your offerings on the platforms they frequent.

If you have written a book yourself, you can also do a Self-Publishing Promotion so people can reach out to read your books.

–  Pay Attention to Reviews:

Monitor customer reviews for insights into product quality and customer service. Positive reviews enhance your online brand credibility.

Tips for garnering favorable feedback include honesty about item condition, timely shipping, prompt response to customer inquiries, and swift resolution of issues.

Building a positive reputation through reviews can increase the likelihood of your product being featured prominently, maximizing visibility and sales potential.

Step 7: Pack and ship book orders

Ensuring the secure delivery of your books is very important, as satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat patrons. Following shipping guidelines and employing careful packing practices is crucial for maintaining the condition of orders upon arrival.

Books are susceptible to wear and tear during shipping, but implementing certain measures can significantly enhance the likelihood of orders reaching customers in excellent condition.

Consider the following precautions:

–  Use Diverse Packing Materials:

Employ a combination of packaging materials such as bags, Kraft paper, or bubble wrap to provide comprehensive protection.

–  Safeguard Corners, Edges, and Dust Jackets:

Pay particular attention to vulnerable areas like corners, edges, and dust jackets to prevent damage during transit.

–  Individual Wrapping for Multiple Books:

When shipping more than one book, consider wrapping each book individually or utilizing single boxes for added protection. Inserting flat cardboard pieces between each book can further safeguard them.

–  Snug Fit in Envelopes or Boxes:

Ensure that books fit snugly within padded envelopes or boxes, minimizing movement during transit.

Main Attributes and Elaborate Information

Key Steps Actions Impact
Explore Inventory Sources Source books through wholesale, local markets, or auctions. Assess conditions based on platform guidelines. Diversifies your inventory, offering a mix of new, used, and collectible books.
Establish Ecommerce Presence Set up an ecommerce bookstore, considering a single website or multiple sales channels. Choose an Amazon selling plan for a vast customer base. Creates a centralized platform for selling, tapping into a broader online audience.
Choose Fulfillment Method Decide between Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) or Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Consider pros and cons based on preferences and business model. Influences shipping management, impacting customer satisfaction and repeat sales.
Pricing Strategy Determine book prices considering type, condition, and market values. Factor in packing and shipping costs. Sets competitive prices that attract buyers while maintaining profitability.
List Books Effectively List books individually or in bulk, ensuring accurate details, competitive pricing, and honest conditions. Choose fulfillment channel. Optimizes visibility and sales potential on Amazon or other platforms.
Implement Marketing Tactics Utilize social media for promotion. Monitor and respond to customer reviews to build credibility. Expands business reach, establishes a positive online reputation, and encourages repeat purchases.
Secure Packing and Shipping Use diverse packing materials, safeguard vulnerable areas, and ensure a snug fit in envelopes or boxes. Minimizes the risk of damage during transit, enhancing customer satisfaction and building trust.


Selling books online presents a fantastic opportunity for a steady income stream or even the foundation of a thriving online business.

When it comes to selling books online, there are many options available. You can choose to sell your books directly through an online store, or you can list them on Amazon and other sites.

Amazon is one of the largest marketplaces providing book publishing services with its KDP account and a selling option. It also offers a wide variety of customers looking for new reads. If you price your book correctly and put in some marketing effort, you can sell your book quickly and easily!

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