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How to Sell Books on Amazon: Ultimate Guide

How to Sell Books on Amazon: Ultimate Guide

Amazon has become the largest online platform in this era, wherein millions of consumers are buying products of their choices. Multi-million transactions happen on Amazon every day. It is the perfect platform for anyone to build a profitable and sustainable business.

Table of Contents
Reasons to Start Selling Books on Amazon
5 Ways to Sell Books on Amazon
Sourcing Books to Sell Books on Amazon
How to Start Selling Books Business on Amazon?
What books to sell on Amazon?

You need to have a good grasp of the many techniques as well as technologies to help you become a top seller on the Amazon platform. Apart from this, you need to choose your product wisely.

And if there’s one thing that has always been a top-selling product, be it on offline or online platforms, its books. If you want to generate a steady part-time revenue or build a steady business and become a successful seller, then you can start by selling books.

Books sold can be printed or e-book or audio versions, printed books, can be new or used, hard-cover or paperback type. However, a good amount of research is required – how to sell books on Amazon and what to sell. IO Scout is an all in one solution for Amazon sellers, get the IO Scout discount and start to earn money on Amazon right now!

Here’s a quick and simple guide for anyone looking to embark on the journey of selling books on Amazon Marketplace.

Reasons to Start Selling Books on Amazon


Books were the first product that Amazon started selling on its platform. There are always millions of books being printed which are actively operational at any given point of time, hence books have always been a flourishing market with plenty of opportunities.

The wide variations that are available in this segment, are not offered by any other product. In 1994, when Bezos was working on the idea of Amazon, books are what he chose to start with.

The most important challenge faced by any brick and mortar bookstore has always been that of  inventory management and choosing the titles to be kept on display. This major issue was solved with the advent of online bookselling platform, wherein you could browse through countless titles and had the freedom of ordering what you liked. Ever since books have been started to be sold online, it has become a hugely successful avenue for people worldwide to build a successful business model.

According to a report published by IBISWorld, the Book Publishing Industry is pegged to clock an annual revenue of around 119 billion USD on a global scale in 2019 alone. This has always been, remains and will continue to be one of the largest dominant markets globally. The market has evolved and reinvented itself to maintain this dominance throughout.

Many authors have attained Amazon’s best-selling books status with the help of their publishers, increasing the number of copies sold by selling books to Amazon worldwide. There has been a significant increase in the number of authors who publish themselves through the Amazon platform and often have been listed as Amazon’s best-selling books.

Over the years, the book publishers have found innovative ways to reach broader customer groups across the world. Different formats have been invented such as e-books and audiobooks. We are part of a generation that is proactively conscious of contributing to the preservation of Mother Nature.

As such, a huge shift has happened over the years from using printed copies of books to e-books . There remains a large customer segment that prefers the feel of a printed book in their hands. Developing alternative formats helped the publishers reach both these targeted customer segments.

Audiobooks have been another great milestone marking the evolution of this industry. It helped publishers target new segments, catering to a wide range of customer base including but not limited to people with reading disabilities. These audiobooks are also used in classrooms as a mode to have engaging interactive sessions with students.

To sum up, books present a lucrative market where the demand will never cease despite having a large seller base ready to cater to this mammoth market segment.

5 Ways to Sell Books on Amazon

Depending on whether you are the author yourself or you are an individual seller, or you are a business house, or you are a publishing house, the choices vary on the way to sell books on Amazon.

Buyback or trade program

With this option, you, basically, can exchange your book for Amazon gift cards. The books that you intend to exchange should be on the list of valid exchangeable books’ list of the Amazon trade-in program. Expectedly, the exchange value will be a lot lesser than the original price of the book. Even though this is an easy way to liquidate non-moving inventory or sell the used book to Amazon, but this is not recommended due to the obvious losses that are being incurred in the process.

Sell books to Amazon

Another straightforward way to sell books on Amazon is by becoming a vendor of Amazon and selling the books to Amazon directly. Again, this process is not recommended since it is not sustainable and not suitable for anyone looking to generate steady revenue, primarily because Amazon buys these books at a much cheaper rate than can be sold on their marketplace itself.

Kindle Direct Publishing

If you are the author yourself and looking to publish yourself, you can opt-in for the Kindle Direct Publishing services offered by Amazon. Through this program, Amazon has aimed to cater to authors who want to self-publish their book through e-Book or Paperback formats. Amazon does not charge any fee towards publishing these books on their platform.

Fulfilment by Amazon

This is a method of selling your books on Amazon, wherein all the activities that pertain to inventory management, packaging, logistics, and delivery are taken care of by Amazon. Apart from these sales support functions, Amazon also handles the customer support activities once the sale is done on its platform. This is advisable for individual sellers as well as professional sellers who do not have the requisite infrastructure to execute the orders. Amazon charges these seller service fee for the FBA services. A seller can choose from two plan options – lumpsum charge every month or a predetermined rate charged per unit sold, based on the volume of sales they target to achieve.

Fulfilment by Seller

In this option of selling books on Amazon, the seller must take care of all sales support activities, including managing storage, packaging, shipment logistics, and delivery. In this option, the seller must handle the customer support function as well, post the completion of the sale on the Amazon marketplace. This is generally advisable for professional sellers who sell in bulk and have a functional and efficient fulfillment setup available to them, to support these sales and customer support activities.

Sourcing Books to Sell Books on Amazon


In case you are a self-publisher, then you can directly sell to Amazon or opt for their Kindle Direct Publishing program, as detailed above. However, most of the sellers on the Amazon platform are not self-published and need to source the books they want to sell.

With an ever-increasing number of sellers hustling to make their mark in the bookselling segment on Amazon, it is imperative to know where to source the books you want to sell. There are a lot of factors that add to the cost of selling a book on Amazon, based on the way you chose to sell your book on Amazon. Thus, deciding the right source for obtaining the books could make or break your business

If you want to establish your business in the used book segment on Amazon, you will find the following options to suitable for sourcing the used books:

  •  You can rummage through your collection of books and if there are books that are in good condition that you no longer need, then Voila! You have then found the easiest and most cost-effective source to start selling on Amazon!
  •  You can always find good used books whenever a yard or estate sale is happening around the area you live in or you have access to.
  • If you are on a constant lookout, you may also come across book owners who may happily part with their books only if you buy in a lot from them. You may even find good deals that will help you turn in a good profit after selling.
  • You may also be in regular contact with used bookstores that you have access to since there will be times when these stores offer attractive price drops when they are faced with inventory constraints.
  • Many times, there are sales of old books organized by local libraries or institutions like schools and colleges, where you may be able to get a very good deal on used books that they want to sell-off.
  • There are many online portals like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Thriftbook, among many others, where you can find used books being listed regularly for sale in bulk. There is an obvious risk involved in this method, in comparison to the above-listed methods – inability to assess the condition of the book before purchase. That is a trade-off that you need to consider – the risk of receiving an unsellable batch for bringing down the cost of procurement of books per unit basis.

However, it is important to note, when buying old books, care should be taken to ensure that they are in a condition that can be resold.

If you are looking to build a stable business on the Amazon Marketplace by selling new books, you need to consider a careful source to procure the books, particularly because Amazon itself does direct sales for most of the best-sellers.

Before going out to look for sourcing avenues, you must understand how the supply chain works in the new book segment. There are three points of access to the supply chain of new books. You can tap any of these sourcing points based on the volumes and amount you are ready to invest in.

  • Authors and Publishers. If you plan to approach a lesser-known author directly who is self-published, then you may get a good deal from them if you agree to buy in bulk. If you plan to approach a popular best-selling author or a large publication house, then you must have the requisite infrastructure and funding ready since these large publication houses only sell in large quantum.
  •   Distributors. Next comes Distributors in the chain of new book sourcing points. Distributors act as a link between the publication houses and the market. It is the distributor who markets the books to prospective retailers and buyers. Once you are an established retailer, you may be approached by distributors to sell these books in large volumes.
  • Wholesalers. Wholesalers form the last link in the supply chain, connecting the distributors or publishers to the retailers. This is the last point where you can approach to procure the books you want to sell.

How to Start Selling Books Business on Amazon?

Now that we have explored the sources from where you can buy used or new books, the following steps need to be taken to start selling books on Amazon Marketplace:

  • Deciding what books to sell on the Amazon Marketplace.
  •  Listing of books on the Amazon Marketplace.
  •  Deciding the way to sell books on the Amazon Marketplace.

What books to sell on Amazon?

Not all books will help you achieve a profitable business. Proper research needs to be done to ensure that the right book has been chosen to be sold. To sell used books on Amazon, you need to understand the demand for the book as well as estimate the probability that the book will sell at the right price and volume so that it becomes a profitable proposition for you. Every book listed on Amazon has an Amazon Best Seller Rank (BSR).

You should only consider the BSR of a book in the Book category and not any sub-category, for determining the viability of selling the book. The lower the rank, the demand is higher. However, along with higher demand comes higher competition and lower profits.

It is found that any book which has a BSR of 1,000,000 is a non-seller. Thus, it is sensible to choose a mid-ranked book. There are many tools available online that will help you make an informed decision and gain insights on the book, by providing historical data of its ABR and sales.

How to launch a new book?

This is a little time consuming because you have to create a new listing. The details, like descriptions, about the author, have to be filled in through your own research. The process of listing a book is very easy and Amazon takes you through the process step by step.

All the product strategies, like having professional grade photos of the product in the listing, searching for good keywords and writing a captivating description applies here too. Once you have created the listing, you can start selling it following the process in the next segment.

How to sell a book that is already selling on Amazon?

When a book is already listed on Amazon, your task becomes much easier. You just have to find the listing, description and author details will already be filled in. you can search if a book is already selling on Amazon by finding out the ISBN – a book’s unique identity code – on Amazon. You will find the ISBN details in sites like google or Goodreads.

A book that has been released in multiple media, like e-book paperback and hardcover will have multiple ISBN. You should select what media you want to sell, and the ISBN should match that. When you find the right title, you can click on sell.

The following window will show you all the details you need to fill. When price, quantity, and condition has been filled in, save the listing. You are now a registered seller for this book.


Be upfront about the condition the book is in

Books are heavy, and there is no way of getting around the shipping and handling charges. What you do not want to add to the list of fees is the return fee. If you have listed the book to be in brand new condition when it has been pre-used, there is a very high chance that customer will feel cheated and return the book. Why would they pay the price of a new book for a used one?

How to sell used books on Amazon? So, be upfront about the condition because nobody really cares about what condition the book is in.

How to sell your own books on Amazon?

If you are a traditional bookseller and have your own publication, you have to discuss the terms of selling and royalty fees with Amazon. The publication should be doing the listing and logistics for you.

If you are an independent bookseller, congratulations, you have created something unique. Many indie sellers have started out small and built connections with readers and gained a cult-like following, earning millions.

Amanda Hocking was one of the pioneers who capitalized on the fame of Twilight by writing more books in the same genre. There are always risks associated with selling books through indie methods. If you cannot successfully market it, you won’t be selling many copies. But Amazon does provide the best platform for indie sellers to showcase your skill. Kindle Direct Publishing is the best option for indie sellers.


Books have been a classic item on Amazon that has always garnered market interest, and it will continue to do so. You can choose the kind of books to sell by following market trends.

Amazon has over 300 million people who buy books from the platform, and it gained $178 billion in sales revenue only in the last year by selling books. Be aware of the terms of service, fees, and policies of Amazon to make sure you are compliant, and you can have a steady business to fall back on.


What is the cost to on Amazon sell books?

Amazon charges $0.99 for individual sellers, and professional sellers who sell more than 40 copies can get a professional seller membership for $39.99.

  • The referral fee is 15% for most categories.
  •  There is also a closing fee on media products, which is at a flat rate of $1.80.
  •  Shipping costs will vary depending on the type of shipping method you have chosen. FBA will inventory, handle, pack and deliver your products for a price on each of these services. It will largely depend on the size and weight of the books. Make sure you have counted that in the price of the book, so you are not bleeding money in hidden fees.
  • FBM offers merchants to fulfill their own delivery. But the issue is you can not sell your books to the prime customers, who happen to be major buyers of all products. If you have your own delivery, customer handling system you can start out with this, and switch to FBA any time you wish.

Can I sell books on Amazon for free?

Amazon allows a trade-in program where you can trade your books for free. However, they don’t provide you with cash profit in return, you will receive store credit that you can use to purchase other things.

Can you sell books back to Amazon?

If you have a heap of books at home you want to unload, then you can trade in the stuff in exchange for gift cards by Amazon sell books . You can verify whether you are eligible for this program or not on the Amazon website.

The only issue is that Amazon is notoriously picky about what products they allow to be traded in. if you are eligible in this program, you can trade in many more books by filling out a submission form. You have to enter your address, create a shipping label and pay for it upfront and then send the product back to Amazon within 7 days from when you have accepted the charge.

We hope this article would have provided you insights into selling books on Amazon . So, what are you waiting for? Get started now.

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