How to Sell Books on Amazon and Make Money

If you’ve heard of Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos, you might know that Amazon started as an online bookstore. Yes, that’s right! Initially, Amazon only sold books before branching out into other product categories.

Even today, books remain a significant part of Amazon’s business. Amazon has revolutionized the way books are published and sold, leading to billions in book sales revenue. In fact, a study by eMarketer reveals that around 62% of all books, music, and videos are now bought online!

If you’re an e-commerce seller looking to sell books on Amazon successfully and make a profit, this article has all the essential information you need.

Is Selling Books on Amazon Profitable?

You might be wondering if selling books on Amazon can actually make you money. The answer is a clear “yes.”

People from various backgrounds are sharing their success stories in book selling. Some do it casually for extra income, while others turn it into a full-time job. Why? Because the profit potential is impressive. Think about buying a book for a few dollars and selling it for ten times that amount or more!

But hold on, not every book is a goldmine. Like any smart seller, you’ll need to do some research to find books that people are eager to buy. With the tips and strategies in this guide, you can kickstart a successful book-selling business.

When it comes to selling books, Amazon is the place to be. They dominate over 50% of the print book market and a staggering three-quarters of the ebook market. Plus, more people are joining Prime memberships every day. Clearly, Amazon is the go-to platform for book buyers.

Now, let’s talk money. If you’re considering publishing on Kindle, you’ll earn royalties. Amazon offers a 35% or a generous 70% share for each book sold. Here’s the breakdown: Amazon takes 65% for books under $2.99 or over $9.99. But the good news is, they only keep 30% for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. So, you’ll make more profit for books in that price range.

Keep in mind that your earnings depend on the demand for your content and how well you present it in your listings.

Read more: Best Side Hustle Ideas

How Much Does It Cost?

Selling books on Amazon involves several types of fees. These fees fall into four main categories: Subscription fees, Selling fees, Shipping fees, and FBA fees.

Let’s make it simple:

  • Subscription fees: If you plan to sell at least 40 items each month, you can save money by subscribing to the Professional plan for $39.99 per month. This plan lets you list and sell as many items as you want.
  • Selling fees: For each item you sell, there’s a $0.99 fee. If you’re selling 40 or more items monthly, the Professional plan is your cost-effective choice.
  • Referral fees: All book sellers pay a 15% referral fee and a $1.80 closing fee for each book sold. If you deal in Collectible books, a flat 15% fee applies per sale.
  • Shipping fees: Shipping costs depend on whether you handle your own orders or use Amazon’s FBA service. Professional plan sellers can set their own shipping rates. Individual sellers have less flexibility but can find real-time shipping fees in Amazon’s Media Shipping Rates table.
  • FBA fees: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is popular for book distribution. With FBA, you’ll pay monthly storage fees and potential charges for long-term storage or inventory removal if you stop using FBA. Shipping fees with FBA vary based on your book’s weight and dimensions, ranging from a few dollars to over $7 per book. Check exact fulfillment fees on Amazon Seller Central.
  • Additional selling fees: If you have numerous active listings that haven’t sold in a year, Amazon charges a monthly fee of $0.005 per listing, but this only applies after you exceed 100,000 listings. For refunded orders, there’s a refund administration fee, which is either 20% of the referral fee or $5.00, whichever is less.

Understanding these fees will help you calculate the costs of selling books on Amazon more effectively.

How to Sell Books on Amazon: 6 Steps

Step 1: Create your Amazon seller Account

There’re two types of seller accounts:

  • Professional Seller Account (Monthly Fee: $39.99)
  • Individual Seller Account (No Monthly Fee)

To register your account, go to the Amazon Seller Central website and sign up. You will need to provide:

  • A valid government-issued ID or passport
  • A recent bank account or credit card statement
  • A chargeable credit card
  • A mobile phone number

Amazon will send a verification code to your email and phone number. Enter these codes to complete the verification process.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to set up your Amazon seller account:

Step 2: Decide on the type of books you want to sell

Before you start selling books on Amazon, it’s important to determine the kind of books you want to sell. There are two main options to consider:

  • New Books: New books are in high demand because many buyers prefer fresh copies. However, sourcing new books can be challenging. You’ll need to buy them from wholesalers, distributors, or publishers, often in bulk.
  • Used Books: Selling used books is a popular choice among independent sellers because they are easier to find. You can locate used books online or locally. While they may not be as popular as new books, finding good deals can still lead to profitable sales.

For most sellers, dealing with used books is simpler and involves less competition since Amazon usually offers new releases. However, if you have the financial means and a reliable supply chain, selling new books can result in higher profits.

Used Books

Step 3: Source books to sell on Amazon

Here are the main ways to source books to sell on Amazon:

1. Sell Your Unwanted Books

One of the easiest ways to get started is by selling books you already own but no longer need. Go through your bookshelves and closets to find any unwanted books in good condition that you can list on Amazon.

When deciding what kinds of books to sell, you have a lot of options, including comic books, rare books, textbooks, recipe books, art books, children’s books, and more. 

2. Online and Offline Arbitrage

When it comes to selling books, there are two ways to do arbitrage:

  • Online Arbitrage: This involves purchasing books from online marketplaces like Amazon itself, eBay, or other websites and then reselling them on Amazon for a profit. Use tools and browser extensions to quickly scan for price discrepancies between the buy and sell prices after fees.
  • Offline/Retail Arbitrage: Visit physical book sources like thrift stores, garage sales, library sales, used bookstores, etc. and use a scanning app to identify books selling below market price on Amazon that you can buy and resell for a profit.

3. Bulk and Wholesale Buying

You can buy books in large quantities at discounted rates from wholesalers, publishers, distributors, library restocks, etc. This requires more upfront capital but can provide inventory at much lower per-unit costs. Some options include ThriftBooks, BookBundler, BookOutlet, and American Book Company.

4. Free Books

Believe it or not, there are many sources of completely free books that can be resold on Amazon for a profit due to the gap between perceived value and market value for books.

  • Buy/Sell/Trade groups on Facebook, Nextdoor, Craigslist
  • Garage sales, estate sales
  • Library donations and discard sections
  • Asking friends/family for unwanted books

5. Write Your Own eBook

For a more creative approach, you can write your own ebook on a topic you’re knowledgeable about and self-publish it directly on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform to earn royalties from sales.

Here’s a video tutorial on self-publishing with KDP:

Step 4: Choose the right books to sell on Amazon

To succeed on Amazon, it’s vital to choose the right books to sell. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

1. Check Amazon’s Best Sellers List

To get started, look at Amazon’s Best Sellers list. This list ranks books based on how well they’re selling compared to others. A lower ranking (Best Sellers Rank or BSR of 100,000 or lower) means higher popularity. Choose books with lower BSR numbers because they are more likely to sell.

2. Book Condition Matters

Whether you’re selling new or used books, keep them in good condition. Buyers expect even used books to be decent. For used book sales on Amazon, you’ll need the basics: an Amazon seller account, a way to fulfill orders, and an inventory. Follow Amazon’s condition guidelines, and keep these pricing tips in mind:

  • The book’s condition affects its price; better condition means a higher price.
  • Check competitor prices, Amazon’s prices, and customer ratings. Positive feedback is key to selling success.
  • Try to win the Buy Box, where most sales occur. It boosts your credibility and sales for used books.

3. Estimate Sales Likelihood

To gauge a book’s chances of selling on Amazon, you can use tools and apps. Many sellers use scanners to quickly find inventory. Amazon’s mobile seller app includes a scanner with product prices, BSR, and other Amazon stats. 

Another option is the Scout IQ app, available for iPhone and Android. It lets you download the entire book database for offline scanning, providing more effective scouting data. While it may require a monthly fee, it offers better data than alternatives like Neatoscan and FBAScan.

Amazon's Best Sellers List

Step 5: Decide on the fulfilment method

When you sell on Amazon, you can pick between two ways to handle your orders: Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) or Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM)

With FBM, you do the packing and shipping yourself using your chosen delivery service. FBM sellers must keep their inventory, and Amazon’s warehouses aren’t used. When figuring out costs, remember to include storage fees, unless you store items at your place. You also need to consider shipping and handling costs and the time needed to prepare and ship orders. It’s a more hands-on approach, so cost analysis is crucial.

Sellers usually go for FBM if they have a small number of orders or a big enough business where shipping costs are lower than what Amazon offers. Just keep in mind that you’ll need space to store your inventory.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Opting for FBA means Amazon takes care of everything. After a sale, Amazon handles picking, packing, shipping, and customer service. You can also store your inventory in Amazon’s warehouses, avoiding the hassle of managing storage, shipping, handling, and labor costs separately. Instead, you pay one fee to Amazon that covers your participation in the FBA program.

Sellers often choose FBA when they have a lot of orders and their operations aren’t large enough to get lower shipping costs than FBA fees. Moreover, you can store your books in Amazon’s warehouses until they’re sold, saving you from the need to store them yourself.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Step 6: List your book on Amazon

You can list your books directly from the Amazon page itself instead of creating a brand-new listing. Once you list your book, it appears on the same page.

To find the product listing page, look for the book’s ISBN (the book’s registration code) and enter it in Amazon’s search bar, just like when you’re looking for something to buy. You’ll typically find the ISBN on the book’s barcode or somewhere within the book’s dust jacket. If the book was created before 1970 and doesn’t have an ISBN, you’ll need to manually enter the title.

On the product listing page, there should be a gray button that says “Sell on Amazon,” usually located just below the Buy Box. Click on that button, and if you’re allowed to sell the book, you’ll see the next screen which asks you to enter the following information:

  • SKU: This is your unique identifier for the book. You can choose anything that helps you remember it, or leave it blank, and Amazon will assign one for you.
  • Price: Set the book’s price based on its condition. For example, books in “Acceptable” condition often have a lower price than those in “Very Good” condition. Try not to price it too low to avoid price wars.
  • Quantity: If you have multiple copies of the book, enter the total quantity. Otherwise, it defaults to one.
  • Condition: Choose from Amazon’s condition options, such as “New,” “Like New,” “Very Good,” “Good,” or “Acceptable.” For collectible books, you have similar options. Avoid listing a book as “New” unless it’s genuinely brand new.
  • Fulfillment Channel: Decide whether you want to fulfill the orders yourself (FBM) or let Amazon handle it (FBA).

If you choose FBM, your book listing will appear on the product page within 15-30 minutes, and you wait for a sale.

If you select FBA, your book needs to be shipped to Amazon for preparation. This usually takes 1-2 weeks for the inventory to reach the fulfillment center. Amazon then takes 3-7 days to unpack and distribute the inventory. During busy times like the holidays, it may take longer.

Sometimes, items can go missing in an Amazon warehouse, but you can track your inventory and ensure you’re paid for it if it’s lost.

Final Thoughts

No matter if you’re a seasoned online entrepreneur or just testing the waters with a side gig, selling books on Amazon is a fantastic choice. It’s a low-cost way to start, especially if you’re beginning with a small inventory.

If you follow the steps we’ve laid out, you’re well on your way to creating a thriving online business that can bring in significant earnings. 


1. How do I put my book on Amazon for sale?

To put your book on Amazon for sale, follow these steps:

  1. Create an Amazon Publishing Account: Go to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and sign in with your Amazon account. If you don’t have one, create a new account.
  2. Set Up Your Book: Click on “Create a New Title” and choose either “Kindle eBook” or “Paperback.”
  3. Enter Book Details: Fill in the book title, author name, description, keywords, and categories. Ensure your description is compelling and uses HTML tags for formatting if needed.
  4. Upload Manuscript and Cover: Upload your book manuscript in a supported format (e.g., DOC, DOCX, PDF) and your book cover. You can use Amazon’s Cover Creator tool if you don’t have a cover.
  5. Set Pricing and Royalties: Choose your royalty plan (35% or 70%) and set your book’s price. Consider the pricing for different regions if you want to sell internationally.
  6. Publish: Review all the details and click “Publish Your Kindle eBook” or “Publish Your Paperback Book.” Your book will be live on Amazon within 24-48 hours.

2. How to make an ebook and sell it on Amazon?

To make an ebook and sell it on Amazon, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a Topic: Select a topic that is in demand and appeals to a specific audience. Research the market to identify gaps your ebook can fill.
  2. Write Your Ebook: Create a detailed outline and write your ebook. Edit and proofread to ensure high quality.
  3. Format Your Ebook: Use tools like Kindle Create or Designrr to format your ebook for Kindle. Ensure it meets Amazon’s formatting guidelines.
  4. Design a Cover: Create a professional cover that attracts readers. You can use Amazon’s Cover Creator or hire a designer.
  5. Create a KDP Account: Sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and set up your author profile.
  6. Upload Your Ebook: Enter your book details, upload the manuscript and cover, and set your pricing and royalty options.
  7. Promote Your Ebook: Use social media, email marketing, and other promotional strategies to reach your target audience and generate sales.

3. How to get a best-selling book on Amazon?

To get a best-selling book on Amazon, follow these strategies:

  1. Write a Quality Book: Make sure your book is well-written and professionally edited. A good book is the foundation of becoming a bestseller.
  2. Choose the Right Categories: Select categories that are relevant to your book but not overly competitive. This increases your chances of ranking higher.
  3. Optimize Keywords: Use relevant keywords that potential readers are likely to search for on Amazon.
    Get Reviews: Encourage early readers to leave honest reviews. Reviews can significantly impact your book’s visibility and sales.
  4. Launch Strategy: Plan a strong launch by leveraging your email list, social media, and other marketing channels. Consider running promotions or discounts during the launch period.
  5. Amazon Ads: Use Amazon’s targeted advertising to reach potential readers who are interested in your book’s genre.

4. What types of books sell best on Amazon?

The types of books that sell best on Amazon include:

  • Niche Books: Books with low print runs and part of a larger collection, such as Dungeons & Dragons books.
  • Comic Books: Both single issues and graphic novels, especially collectible issues.
  • Collectibles: First edition books, signed books, and other collectible items.
  • Non-fiction: Non-fiction books generally perform better than fiction in the resale market.
  • Hardcovers: Hardcovers tend to hold their value better than paperbacks.
  • Textbooks: Always in high demand, especially during the fall and spring semesters.

5. What types of books don’t sell well on Amazon?

The types of books that don’t sell well on Amazon include:

  • Fiction: Fiction books tend to have larger print runs and lose their value faster than non-fiction.
  • Children’s Books: These books often have lower prices, making it difficult to turn a profit.
  • Popular New Books: Competing with Amazon’s prices on new releases is challenging, making them less profitable for resellers

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