How To Sell Books On Amazon To Make Passive Income
Want to know how to sell books on Amazon to earn some passive income?
We’re not just talking about books you write — we’re also talking about books you own.
Maybe you’ve looked around your house and thought, “I should pare down my collection a little.”
Doing a little Marie Kondo action on your book collection wouldn’t be a bad thing.
And perhaps you’re thinking, “If I paid for them, someone else probably would, too.” You’re right.
You probably have multiple copies of some of your favorites, anyway, and you might even have some textbooks and “must-read” novels (barely touched) that you haven’t opened since your college days.
And if you’ve bought used books yourself, you know what a treat it is to find a well-kept used copy of a book you’ve been wanting to read for half the price of a new one (or even less).
You could make a lot of college students and bookworms so happy by selling your books!
Good thing you already know where to sell books. You know Amazon provides the largest market for them, and their selling tools make it both easy and rewarding.
But how do you get started?
And what’s the best way to go about becoming an Amazon bookseller?
How To Sell Books On Amazon To Make Passive Income
Once you know how to sell used books on Amazon, you might just get hooked on it — especially if you enjoy shopping for them.
The more marketplaces you find where you can collect books that are in high demand on Amazon, the more you stand to earn.
And the more you get the word out about your Amazon used books, the sooner you can build a customer base that will build up your reputation as a reliable seller.
Selling Books On Amazon
If you’re looking to sell your books on Amazon, there are three ways to do that:
- Use Amazon Trade-In to trade your books for Amazon gift cards.
- Write and publish your own books through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
- Sell books on Amazon for cash.
This article will touch on all three but will primarily focus on selling books on Amazon FBA. More on that in just a bit.
One way to sell books online is to trade them in for Amazon gift cards using Amazon Trade-In.
Before you start boxing up those books, though, make sure they’re eligible for trade-in by looking them up on the Trade-In page.
And even after you learn that it’s eligible, Amazon can decide –after receiving your shipment — not to accept it.
The good news? They do provide a prepaid shipping label for you to send them your eligible books, and if they don’t want them, they don’t charge you for the return shipping.
If they do accept them, though, they’ll process your books and credit you for them. You can check your earnings by logging into your Trade-In account and checking “gift card balance.”
If you want gift cards processed immediately on acceptance, there’s also an Instant Payment option for eligible trade-ins. The money is deposited directly into your Amazon.com account.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
Amazon bookselling isn’t limited to other people’s books. You can write and self-publish your own books in ebook and paperback format through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
We’re not going to detail all of the self-publishing steps here, as this post would wax on and on. If you’re curious and need a place to get started, read our article on how to write a book for Kindle.
Also, check out Authority.Pub’s expanding library of self-publishing articles, podcast episodes, and courses — including our flagship program, Authority Pub Academy — for help with all things self-publishing.
Selling Used Books On Amazon
As an Amazon merchant, you have two options for order fulfillment:
- Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) — This is the best option for newbies who don’t already have a well-established and efficient fulfillment set-up — and who don’t have the time to process and package each order. You send your books to an Amazon fulfillment center, and they package and ship each book for you when it sells. Plus, FBA merchandise is eligible for free two-day Prime shipping — which makes your books more attractive to potential customers.
- Fulfilled By Merchant (FBM) — If you’d rather store and ship each book yourself, you can choose this option and save yourself the monthly inventory fee and the cost of shipping your books to Amazon. On the other hand, the larger your inventory, the more likely you’ll need to rent a storage space to hold it all, which also costs money – and the more time you’ll spend packing orders and transporting them for shipment. And don’t forget you’ll be the main point of contact for any customer who isn’t completely satisfied with their purchase.
There’s also the Amazon Vendors (AMZ) option for manufacturers and distributors looking to sell in bulk and unload a lot of inventory quickly through Amazon’s Vendor Central service – an invite-only platform for wholesalers.
This isn’t an option for anyone selling on a retail basis (i.e., selling in small quantities).
Amazon’s Best-Seller Rating (BSR)
Look at any book’s sales page on Amazon and scroll down to the Product Details. At the bottom of the boldest list of details, you’ll see “Amazon Best Sellers Rank” and a number preceded by a pound sign or hashtag.
That number indicates how that book ranks with other books selling on Amazon by the number of copies it’s selling. The number is updated every hour, and the lower it is, the more people are buying it.
As a general rule, if you want to know how likely a particular book is to sell, see if its BSR is lower than 200,000.
Higher than this, and your book is unlikely to sell quickly, if at all — especially if its price puts it further down the list of available options.
So, if you do list it, you’ll want to set your price competitively — but not so competitively that you lose money on it after deducting the cost of shipping and the closing fee (if you’re on the Individual plan).
You’ll either be shipping each order directly to the customer (with the FBM route) or shipping books to one or more of Amazon’s fulfillment centers (with FBA).
Either way, it pays to take your shipping costs into consideration when pricing your books.
If your BSR is in the four-digit range, it stands a much better chance of selling, and you can probably get away with setting a higher price for it, as long as it’s still competitive.
You’re welcome to list books with a BSR larger than 200,000, as long as you recognize they’re unlikely to sell as quickly as books with a much smaller BSR.
How to Find Books to Sell
Aside from the books you may already have in your home (or garage, storage closet, etc.), there are other places where you can find free or underpriced books to resell for a profit on Amazon.
- Discounted book bins — Look for these in big box stores or department stores
- Used bookstores — You can buy books individually (after scanning or looking them up on your smartphone to assess their value) or buy discounted bunches of them.
- Closing bookstores — If you’re going the wholesale route, this is a great way to get loads of books at a steep discount, since the owners are keen on unloading as much as possible without giving their inventory away for free.
- Craigslist — People looking to get rid of boxes of books before moving will practically give them away (especially if their new home doesn’t have room for all of them).
- Yard sales, moving sales and estate sales — You can clean up here if the owners are anxious to unload as much as they can before moving or donating whatever doesn’t sell.
- Antique shops — You’ll often find old classics at antique shops, though it makes sense to look them up before paying what may be an inflated price.
- eBay — Not all eBay sellers know the true value of what they’re selling, so if you specialize in a particular category of books (textbooks, homeschool books, etc.), you can often find great deals on these and resell them at a decent profit.
Helpful Apps for Amazon Sellers
As an Amazon seller, you have access to their smartphone app, which makes it easier to look up books and assess their value and sales rating before adding them to your own sales inventory.
For scanning potential acquisitions, veteran Amazon sellers prefer the Amazon Seller app and the Scoutify app.
The Amazon Seller app is completely free, while the Scoutify app costs $49 a month after a free 30-day trial period (or $480 annually).
It includes other tools useful to Amazon sellers — including a web scouting app for online sourcing, a listing service, and some bookkeeping and reports to help you stay on track of your sales revenue, fees, and profits.
Another tool Amazon sellers have found tremendously useful is the Fetcher app — considered the #1 accounting app for Amazon sellers.
This app enables you to keep track of what you spent on each of your books, the fees charged by Amazon, and your exact profits for each sale. It’s so comprehensive, users don’t bother with Amazon’s own basic in-house bookkeeping service.
Just using the Fetcher app can increase your actual profit by a considerable margin, which makes its price even more attractive.
After a 30-day free trial, Fetcher has three different payment plans, based on the number of orders per month. At its least expensive (for those making up to 2,500 sales per month), the monthly rate is $19.
Sell Textbooks on Amazon
Amazon is the best place to sell textbooks that might otherwise end up in the donation pile.
A lot of college students buy their textbooks and other assigned reading online, and you can provide them — and earn some money — in one of the following ways:
- Sell your own books directly to them as an FBA or FMB seller.
- Sell them to Amazon using Amazon Trade-In to earn gift cards.
- Buy these books from another marketplace and sell them on Amazon at a small profit (retail arbitrage).
When it comes to the first of these options, FBA books are eligible for Prime, which makes them more attractive to anyone taking advantage of Amazon’s Prime discount for students.
Amazon makes selling textbooks almost too easy. So, if you’re looking to free up some shelf space and earn some money or an Amazon gift card, sign in and look them up.
And if you want to make a business of it – buying and reselling textbooks – it pays to cultivate relationships with a variety of sources.
To succeed with retail arbitrage, you need to treat both your suppliers and your customers well, while also earning enough profit to keep your business going.
Steps To Sell Books On Amazon
Follow these steps to sell books online in the Amazon marketplace:
Step 1. Create an Amazon account.
On the Amazon home page, if you hover your mouse pointer over Accounts & Lists and look under “Your Account,” about halfway down, you’ll see “Start a Selling Account.” Click on that and follow the directions.
NOTE: If you had an Amazon seller account that Amazon has since shut down due to inactivity, you may need to contact Amazon directly in order to register a new seller account.
Step 2. Choose Selling Plan: Individual or Professional.
The Professional plan costs $39.99 a month plus any selling fees charged by Amazon.
The Individual Plan is in tiny print, so look for it if you’d rather start out with the free option.
Keep in mind, you’re limited to selling 40 items per month, and you’ll pay a $0.99 closing fee per sale.
Step 3. Enter Payment Information.
Payment for the balance of your orders (minus Amazon seller fees) will be deposited into your bank account, so you’ll need to enter a valid checking account number in order to get paid.
Amazon even sends you an email notification to let you know when they’ve sent a new payment.
Step 4. Find Book Title.
Under “List products already on Amazon.com,” look up your book’s title on the main seller account page and select “Start Selling.”
Or look up your book the way buyer’s do, go to the product page, and click on the button that says, “Sell on Amazon.”
Step 5. Or Create New Listing.
You’ll do this under “List products not yet on Amazon.com.”
This will take more time, since Amazon won’t already have information like your book’s ISBN number, its physical dimensions, edition number, copyright date, etc.
Step 6. Decide on Price.
Check the prices for already listed copies of your book — new and used. Make your book’s price competitive with others of the same title and condition.
Step 7. Enter Book’s Condition.
Be honest about this, or you risk negative seller reviews. If not new, enter “Like new,” “Very Good,” “Good,” or “Acceptable.” Here are some guidelines for each rating:
“Like New” is pretty much the way it sounds. It looks fresh off the bookshelf and shows very little sign of having even been looked through. It should have no creases on the spine or any bent or feathered corners.
“Very Good” may not look brand new, but it’s in great shape, with minimal signs of usage. There may be a slight crease at the spine, and a corner or two might be curling a bit, but overall, it looks well-cared-for.
“Good” shows more signs of having been read — at least once. The spine has obvious creases, and the corners are curling or even bent. The inside has no markings, though — no underlining, highlighting, or notes. The pages and cover all look clean if a bit the worse for wear.
“Acceptable” has obvious signs of having been read — with creases on the spine and cover, fading and other aesthetic damage to the cover, and markings on the inside that don’t make it impossible to read.
Any markings that cover the text or make it illegible would put your book in the “Unacceptable” category, as would torn or missing pages and erased text.
Step 8. Select Shipping Method — FBA or FBM.
As pointed out earlier, FBA is the better option for beginning sellers on Amazon and anyone who’d rather not spend hours carefully packing orders and driving them to the post office or UPS store.
Plus, Amazon takes care of the customer service for you. Worth it.
Step 9. Save Listing.
Once you save your listing, your book will be available for sale on Amazon. Congratulations! You’re now an Amazon bookseller.
Are you ready to get started selling books on Amazon?
Now that you know how to sell stuff on Amazon, you might be curious about just how much you can earn if you work at it full-time.
Honestly, it depends on the resale value of your books (and other products) and how large your inventory is.
It also depends on how many listings you can post in a given week and whether you’re adding to your inventory on a regular basis.
You wouldn’t be the first to earn a decent income as an Amazon bookseller, but there are plenty others who sell a few books – to free up some shelf space and get rid of books they’ll probably never read – and stop there.
So, it doesn’t have to be a full-time job. But it could be.
If you have enough books in your home to at least give it a try, look them up on Amazon to see if any of them have a BSR under 200,000.
Add those that make the cut to your “for sale” stack, and if starts to topple, why not see if you can at least make some extra cash as an Amazon seller?
You can always decide to expand your inventory to other objects in your home (like that Waffle Stick Maker someone gave you three Christmases ago that’s still in its box).
And if you decide you’d like to add a book of your own making, check out other posts on Authority.Pub for help with writing, polishing, self-publishing, and marketing one.