Selling used books with Amazon FBA is something anyone can do in their free time to make extra money.
It doesn't take much to get started (less than $500), you can be up and running in a single weekend, and there are thousands of people already using Amazon FBA already to make serious cash.
This year, third-party sellers on Amazon collectively made over $160 billion, more than Amazon made all year from selling their products directly.
The FBA in Amazon FBA means Fulfilled by Amazon, and the basic idea is that Amazon will do all the selling, shipping, and customer service for your products in exchange for a small fee. All you have to do is buy the products you want to sell, and ship them off to Amazon's warehouse.
Shipping individual products to customers takes time, effort, and money. With Amazon FBA, you can leave the hard work to Amazon, and spend more time finding products to sell. In this article, we'll cover how to start selling used books with Amazon FBA.
Of all the products you could possibly sell using Amazon FBA (and there are thousands), used books are great choices for a few reasons.
To most of the world, a dusty shelf full of old books is considered worthless. But it could be your gold mine.
Because unlike actual gold, people haven't yet recognized the value of used books. That's your opportunity. These books can be found at thrift shops, libraries, colleges, and garage sales for next to nothing, sometimes for free if you know where to look.
To succeed as an Amazon book seller, you must know where to find these undervalued books to flip.
The good news? They're everywhere. Even the smallest towns have lots of undervalued used books that are just collecting dust. It's your task to find them.
The great news? The free Amazon Seller app can help you find profitable books in an instant.
The Amazon Seller app is the first tool you'll need to start flipping books. It helps you keep track of your inventory, set your book prices, track your shipments to Amazon warehouses, and monitor your sales.
Using the Amazon Seller app, you can scan the barcode of any book you find, and immediately see its estimated selling price. Just look for the barcode on the back of the book, and tap the camera icon in the top right corner of your Amazon Seller app homepage.
The free Amazon Seller app gives you everything you need to know to make an informed book buying decision. With it you can see:
With all this information, you're ready to make an informed buying decision.
As an example, if you find a $2 book at a thrift store that is selling on Amazon for $15, you can likely make a $5-$7 profit by flipping the book with Amazon FBA. The other $6-8 of fees consists of Amazon selling fees and your shipping + packing materials.
$5-$7 of profit from one book doesn't seem like much. But when you consider that Amazon book sellers like Romer the Roamer are selling thousands of books each month, a $5-$7 profit per book can quickly become a $5,000-$7,000 profit per month. Or more.
Romer's profits are typically higher, because he searches for books that sell for more than $15. As a big seller of textbooks, some of Romer's books can sell for $30, $50, or even $100, giving him a larger profit margin on each book sold.
There are three important variables all Amazon book sellers try to maximize:
Let's start with the first variable. How do you find large quantities of used books?
There are tons of places to find used, under-appreciated books. But every book seller will have a slightly different situation, with different local places to buy books, and different book-selling competitors.
Book sellers in Kansas will need to use different strategies from book sellers in Manhattan. However, one thing all the best book sellers have in common is that they start by testing all possible channels. It's the only way to be sure which channel is your most profitable. Below are a handful of places that Romer the Roamer mentioned visiting to find used books.
As Romer said, the more barriers to entry, the better. Anyone can walk into a thrift shop and start scanning books. This lowers the likelihood of finding great deals. On the other hand, it takes a level of persistence and creativity to negotiate exclusive deals with college book stores and local libraries. These kinds of creative sourcing techniques usually have a higher potential for profit.
The first step to beating competition in the book selling business is finding more creative ways to source books.
The holy grail of book flipping is finding a book source that doesn't cost money. Impossible? Think again.
Apps like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Nextdoor are full of people who are trying to get rid of their old books. The best part? People often have no idea how much their books are worth, and they typically have no interest in finding out. For most people, getting a good deal for their old books is a hassle. They would much rather give them away to a book flipper in exchange for some free space in their home.
Another way to get books for free is to do a consignment deal with universities, colleges, and local businesses. This means you get books right away, without spending any cash up front. The consignment model means giving up a share of your profits to the original owner once the book is sold on Amazon.
This is exactly what Romer does with his restricted textbook consignment platform. Romer's Amazon account can sell certain textbooks, CDs, and DVDs that other accounts can't, so he accepts those items from anyone unable to sell them. In exchange, he offers a 50% share of all profits to the people who send him their 'restricted' items. Romer gets the other 50% as a reward for managing, packing, and shipping the products.
In just the last year, he's sent over $150,000 of consignment payouts to people in exchange for their restricted inventory.
No matter how you choose to source your used books, the next step is sending them to Amazon. It's up to you to price, label, and send the books off to Amazon's warehouse.
This can be time consuming, but to avoid the pains of pricing, labeling, and shipping, Romer has hired a small team of book packers. This means he can spend more time looking for great deals, while his team processes books faster than he could on his own.
It's possible to do all the book packing yourself, but it takes a few steps.
A few days after your shipment has been sent off to Amazon, you'll receive a notice that your books have arrived at Amazon's warehouse. Once that happens, your job is done. Just sit back, and watch the dollars roll in. Once Amazon has received your package, books typically get listed on their website within a few hours. This means they're ready to be bought by Amazon customers.
When a customer buys one of your books, your Amazon Seller app will show you which book was purchased, and how much you've earned from it.
During my conversation with Romer, he mentioned that the average book takes roughly 3 months to sell. But this doesn't mean you have to wait 3 months for a paycheck. A good rule of thumb is that 20% of your inventory will be sold each month.
So if you send 100 books to Amazon, you can expect roughly 20 to be sold in your first month, and another 20% per month in future months.
Let's do some quick math. If you're finding books that sell for $15 on Amazon (a reasonable estimate), you'll likely spend $8-$10 on sourcing, shipping, and Amazon FBA fees. That means once an Amazon customer buys your book, you'll have a profit of $5-$7.
And if you're finding 100 of those books per month, you'll be earning $500-$700 in monthly profit. It will take time for you to build up an initial inventory of books, so the first month or two may have lower payout than expected.
However, 100 books isn't much for a monthly haul. That's only an average of 3 books each day. It's fairly easy to find, price, pack, and ship 100 books in a single weekend.
A more realistic milestone for full-time Amazon sellers is selling 1,000 books in single a month. With $5-$7 of profit per book, 1,000 books per month represents roughly $5,000-$7,000 of profit.
Of course, it's possible to sell much more than 1,000 books in a single month. Romer does $350,000 of book sales each year, and knows of other sellers doing over $1 million of book sales each year.
Like anything in life, you get out what you put in. The only way to truly know how much you can make, is to go out and try it for yourself.