Learn How to Sell Your Used Books on Amazon and Make Extra Money
In general, the way it works is that you list a product (book, CD, book on tape) on Amazon’s website, then customers find your listing, purchase through Amazon, you ship the item, then you get paid. Amazon takes a small cut of each sale for their services.
Open an Amazon Seller account. If you have made a purchase on Amazon.com you probably already have a buyers account. If so, or if not, it is easy to set up a sellers account.
- Visit Amazon.com, scroll down to the bottom of the homepage
- Under “Make Money with us” click on “sell on Amazon”
- Choose the type of seller account you want: Most will want the free account that is limited to 40 sales per month. If you find this limiting you can switch it later to the professional account that you have to pay a monthly fee for.
- Click “start selling” under Sell Your Stuff
- Enter the ISBN number of a book or CD that you want to sell. (found next to the bar code on the back of most books, if not, look on the copyright page of the book at the very beginning). You can also search by the title of the book.
- Amazon will prompt you through the process of listing the book and setting up your account. You can’t set up an account without listing your first book.
- As part of setting up your account you will link to a bank account where your payments will be deposited and you will also pick a name for your online book store. TIP: Pick a name that is short, easy to remember, and sounds like a book store. For example, (blank) Books.
Once you have listed your first book and completed the set up of your online book store, you are ready to list more books and items. Here is how.
- Log in to your account
- click “list single item”
- search by ISBN (fastest) or by title
- Be sure that the correct book comes up. You don’t want to list a different version or edition or your buyer may be disappointed.
- Amazon usually has a stock photo of the book’s cover so that you don’t need to add one.
- Select the condition: be honest! If you make claims that are untrue to get your book sold you will get negative reviews and fewer purchases down the road.
- If there is damage, describe it clearly in the notes/description section.
- Choose a price. When your search results came up, there was a little box that said X amount of new and used for on sale for X amount. Click on that link and it will open the current listings of your book on Amazon. This will give you the info you need to select a price. I pick a price that isn’t the absolute lowest but is competitive with the other offers of the same quality/condition of book. You will see some books listed for $0.01. These sellers have the ability to ship cheaply and therefore are happy to get the $3.99 shipping credit and don’t care how much the books sells for. My personal threshold is $1.99 to list a book, anything less isn’t worth my time for packaging and shipping.
- Choose shipping price. Amazon makes you offer the $3.99 flat rate. You can also select other shipping options that your buyers can choose from. I recommend sticking to the 3.99 rate for simplicity sake. Most of the time you can ship a book media mail for much less than that and you get to pocket the difference. I recommend sticking with the $3.99 flat rate until you have had some experience and what to try offering a different shipping method as well.
- Click confirm to make your listing official! and then add more by clicking the “list another item” link or the “list single item link”.
When one of your books sells you will get a confirmation email from Amazon. You will not be paid until you ship the book.
- You have agreed to ship the book within 2 business days of purchase. Be sure to do this so that you don't get negative reviews. If you are going to be out of town for longer than a day, you can log into your account and temporarily disable all your listings so that someone doesn't purchase one of your books and expect it to be shipped while you are away.
- Log in to your seller account in Amazon.
- On the right hand side you will see your account’s recent activity listed, including the recent purchase which will be in the “unshipped” category. Click on it.
- This will pull up a screen with details about the order. on the right there will be a link that says “print packing slip”. Hit this link which will pull up a print screen. Hit print to print your packing slip.
- Cut off the mailing address at the top. You will tape this to your envelope in the “to” section to be assured that you are using the mailing address exactly as the buyer entered it. The rest of the packing slip has info about the order. You should slip it in the envelope with the book.
- You need to ship your book in a way that is cheap (so you keep the profits) and safe (so the book doesn't get damaged in route).
- The best way that I have found to maximize both of these is to purchase large manila envelops in bulk and keep scrap cardboard to put on either side of the book inside the envelope. This works especially well for somewhat flimsy paper back books. Simply cut two pieces of cardboard slightly larger than the cover and sandwich them around the book.
- Most hardcover books are sturdy enough to mail with out using the cardboard.
- You could also buy cardboard mailing envelopes in bulk but they are more expensive than the paper ones.
- Most of the time you will want to ship the book “media mail” through the US Postal Service (because it is usually the cheapest), however depending on the weight of the book, sometimes it is cheaper to mail it first class. When I mail a book I tell the Post office clerk that I want to ship it “as cheap as possible” and they figure it out.
- After the book is shipped, log in to your Amazon seller account and use the link on the right to “confirm shipment.” You will be asked to provide the mail carrier (USPS, UPS, etc) and the mail service (media mail, first class, etc).
Tips for Getting Good Reviews and Increasing Sales
Having positive reviews can be the deciding factor for a buyer if they are choosing between two very similar books. Having many negative reviews can almost ensure that you wont sell many books.
- Write a short note on the packing slip. I simply write “thanks for the order, I hope you enjoy the book.”
- Ask for a review. on the packing slip you could write something like “Let us know how we are doing, please consider leaving a review of my service on Amazon.”
- Always be sure to ship within 2 business days of sale. If you want to get good reviews, ship the next day or even the same day as the sale so that the book gets there faster.
- Be honest about the condition of the book. If you lie about the condition to make a sale it will hurt you in the long run because you will get a negative review.
Buying to Resell - Trying to make big money
There are many book sellers on Amazon that purchase books at used book stores, yard sales, etc in an attempt to resell them on Amazon for a profit.
- If you attempt to do this you will need to learn books and the book business really well.
- You need to learn which books will be worth the time and effort and will cover all your expenses.
- Be sure you understand your total expenses for each book (purchase price, Amazon’s cut, shipping materials cost, shipping cost, your time). Be sure that you can sell the book for more than the sum of all these costs.
- Amazon does have an app for most smart phones that allows you to scan the barcode of the book and will then tell you how many are listed for sale on amazon and what the prices are. This could give you some insight into whether or not the book is worth trying to resell.
- For all the reasons listed above, I have not tried to purchase and resell books on Amazon. I am simply making extra money while down sizing my home library.
Many people are trying to simplify their lives. Why not make some extra money by selling the books that you no longer want? Happy selling!
If you successfully sell some books on Amazon and have some new tips to share, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.
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