Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, said way back in 2013: "We've had three big ideas at Amazon that we've stuck with for 18 years, and they are the reason we're successful: Put the customer first. Invent . And be patient . "
That statement may not encapsulate every factor responsible for Amazon's success over the last few decades. Still, it does give a hint at what Amazon values the most: creativity and customer satisfaction.
Founded from a garage in 1994, Amazon started as an online marketplace for books but soon grew to include food, toys, clothing, jewelery, software, and electronics. This development in the diversity of Amazon's offerings has not negatively impacted the books department. A decent chunk (about 10%) of Amazon's yearly revenue comes from books sales .
It is widely accepted that Amazon controls more than 50% of the print book market in the US and is responsible for about three-quarters of e-book sales.
Pros of using Amazon
- There are more book buyers on Amazon. Compared to a marketplace like eBay, Amazon has a considerably larger number of people scouring for books to read. This means your books are more likely to take off on Amazon than elsewhere.
- You can earn more for your books on Amazon, especially when you sell with Fulfillment by Amazon. Amazon buyers are usually willing to pay more for faster shipping.
- You can put up your book listings in minutes. Amazon's process for listing products is straightforward and hassle-free.
- With Fulfillment by Amazon, you can sell without having a single book waiting in store. You can ship all your books to Amazon and leave them to handle the storage, packaging, and shipping to customers.
Cons of using Amazon
- eBay charges less on seller fees compared to Amazon. But books generally sell for much less on eBay, so Amazon is still the better option in most cases.
- Rare collectibles sell better on eBay. If your listings appeal more to collectors of novels or comics, you should consider selling on eBay.
What to consider before listing on Amazon
There are a few things to consider before listing your first book on Amazon. These decisions make up the most of the planning stage and determine, to a degree, the success or failure of your Amazon store.
The type of books you are planning to sell
There are different types of books you can sell on Amazon, from e-books to physical copies. It would help if you considered that certain types of books sell quicker and for much money than others. Generally, the more durable a book is, the higher the price on Amazon. So, paperbacks cost less than hardcovers and so on. Generally, these types of books sell best on Amazon:
Textbooks: Textbooks have an extremely high shelf life, and even the old editions tend to be high-priced. They are especially popular during the fall and spring seasons when colleges resume for a new academic semester. The only major drawback that arises with selling textbooks is when publishers "brand gate", that is, they prevent uncertified Amazon sellers from selling their books, either new or used. Then, you will need to apply to be one of their listed sellers before you can sell the books legally.
Non-fiction: Amazon has a larger market for non-fiction books than it does for fiction. Non-fiction books stay relevant for a long time, and selling them, especially low-print non-fiction, can earn you a decent sum.
Comic books: First-issue collectibles of popular comics are pretty in demand, and you can make a couple of hundred dollars flipping them off eBay.
Antiques and collectibles: Collectors will pay you generous sums for first issues or first editions of their favorite magazines or books but keep in mind that these types of books are usually harder to sell.
Hardcovers: Hardcovers are generally better priced than paperbacks because they are much more durable.
After deciding the types of books you want to sell, you will need to figure out where to get them. Here are a few common ways to source inventory:
Sell books you own: This is an excellent way to start selling books on Amazon. A brief examination of your home library can help you spot books you'd like to sell. This can be old school textbooks, well-loved novels, rare magazines, or old comics.
Online arbitrage: This involves finding sellers on other platforms such as eBay who sell books for lesser than what they would sell for on Amazon. You then buy from these sellers and list the books on Amazon with a profitable mark-up.
Book sales / estate sales: You can make some steal finds at book sales. You could try to find out any book sales happening around, maybe even at libraries. But you should note that the "library copy" stamp might not sit well with most buyers. Estate sales are another way to get books or entire collections practically for free
Wholesale: You can buy used books in bulk on sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook at very cheap rates. You can also buy new books in large amounts from the distributors. This is a great way to get books at wholesale costs.
Write your books: If you are a writer and you are sure you have an idea or ideas people will pay for, then by all means write and sell your books. You can publish your books through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing in both print and e-book format. Amazon self-publishing is a numbers game, and you'll need to churn out books at a consistent pace to make serious bank with this.
Amazon offers two options for order fulfillment: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM).
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): FBA means you're using Amazon's fulfillment service to store, package, ship, and deliver your books. Choosing Fulfillment by Amazon allows you a host of benefits, including Prime shipping and a chance at winning the Buy Box. It also saves you time and allows you to avoid the rigor of handling customer service yourself.
Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM): As the name implies, you're responsible for order fulfillment yourself. You handle storage, packing, and shipping yourself or you outsource to a third-party other than Amazon. FBA is usually faster, more reliable, and cost-effective than shipping yourself. In 99% of cases, you are better off choosing FBA, but FBM can be suitable if you're well experienced with logistics or want more control over your inventory.
There are certain factors you need to consider when pricing your books:
- The condition of the book: A book in 'Excellent' condition will be priced higher than one in 'Acceptable' condition.
- Whether the book is brand new or used.
- Whether the book is rare or collectible. First editions of books usually cost more.
- The author. You will make more profit from a well-known author's book than a relatively unknown one.
- How much other sellers are selling the same book for.
- The amount you acquired the book for, including shipping costs.
Selling account plans
Next, you need to decide the seller's plan / account type that suits you the most. Your plan determines your fee structure. The individual selling plan is the pay-as-you-go option where you pay a fee of $ 0.99 for each item sold while the professional selling plan requires you to pay a flat rate of $ 39.99 per month, regardless of the number of listings or sales .
The individual plan is your best bet if you plan to sell less than 40 items per month, are just getting started as an Amazon seller, and need to get your feet wet. Suppose you are selling more than 40 items per month or you need access to Amazon's more advanced tools for promotion, inventory management, and setting your shipping rates. In that case, you're better off with a professional selling plan.
Apart from the fees associated with your seller's plan, Amazon also charges referral fees and closing fees on each sale. These fees are deducted from the book's final price, so you are not paying them upfront.
Amazon charges a percentage of the final price of a book as a referral fee. This amount varies by category, but it is usually 15% of the retail price for most categories. Only media products, such as DVDs, CDs, music, consoles, and books, are subject to closing costs. This is a one-time charge of $ 1.80 per sale.
8 Best strategies for selling books on Amazon
Learn as much as you can
If you're just starting as a bookseller on Amazon, you should try to learn everything about how the marketplace works. Amazon's Seller University provides a good jumping-off point for learning about available selling tools and how advertising and promotions work.
Watch the trends
The plain truth is that the market doesn't run based on your preference. Your favorite books might not sell well on Amazon. This is why it is essential to check the Best Seller Ranking before listing any book. The Best Seller Ranking tells you how well a book is selling on Amazon. This allows you to estimate the book's demand and your chances of selling it profitably.
Optimize your listings
Competition can be stiff on Amazon. Your listings must stand out. Write out the proper book title, fill in appropriate keywords customers are likely to search for, use multiple images and provide a brief plot summary or topic description.
Be honest about the condition of the books
Amazon provides five categories for most books:
- Like New
- Very Good
Categorize your books according to Amazon's condition guidelines . There are other categories for collectibles and hardcovers with dust jackets. Don't claim a book is in 'Very Good' condition when it's only 'Acceptable.'
Competitive pricing will take you far
You should know exactly how much other sellers are offering for your listings, so you can keep your competitive prices. You don't want to bring prices so low that you run at a loss. Also, a meager price can have the opposite effect and make buyers suspicious.
Faster is better
Fast shipping is quickly becoming the norm on Amazon. If you and another seller have the same price offer for a book but also provides the option for fast shipping, he will outsell you 9 times out of 10. Also, quick delivery helps to foster trust and is likely to make someone a repeat customer. This is another reason to go with Amazon FBA as it allows your customers to use Amazon Prime's two-day delivery.
Promote your store
You can offer promotions to improve your store's visibility. These could be coupon offers, discounts, lightning deals, and buy-one-get-one-free deals. You could also run ads through Amazon's advertising platform or external channels.
Watch the reviews
Reviews play an important role in determining the success of your listings on Amazon. Most buyers use reviews to evaluate whether they need a particular product and are better off getting it somewhere else. Hence, you should make sure that your book listings get overwhelmingly positive reviews from buyers.
I hope this post showed you a few tips and tricks to maximize your success with selling books on Amazon. Apply this strategies and start making some cool cash from Amazon.