Selling textbooks on Amazon is nothing but lucrative and rewarding! But like most profitable ventures, it is no easy feat. Here is your guide to cracking the success code!
Textbooks are distinct from everyday books. For one, they are a crowd-favorite and attract high seasonal demand year in and year out. Millions of college students rely on textbooks to pass exams and accomplish academic/career goals. Hence, the demand for these books is at an all-time high.
In the same vein, books are one of the most sought-after categories on Amazon, with textbooks ranking high on the list. They are extremely easy to source and require minimal financial resources to sell. Though Amazon.com canceled its Amazon textbook buyback program in early 2020 for logical reasons, you can still sell textbooks on Amazon and make a good profit.
Typically, you only need about $500-$1000 to get started — this amount will conveniently cover your seller plan, sourcing, shipping rates, storage, and fulfillment costs. That said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty!
A Detailed Road Map
The good thing about Amazon is that you can sell new and used textbooks depending on availability and financial costs. Before going on the platform to sell, you must source quality books that provide true value for your target market. If you are new in the game or have minimal financial fortitude, you can source used books as they are almost always available and affordable. Find some sources below:
You don’t have to look far to find textbooks worth selling on Amazon. You probably have tons of textbooks lying fallow and collecting dust on your bookshelf. Sift through the shelve and find books in immaculate condition. Select textbooks that are in high demand and guarantee profitable sales. You can also ask your friends, family, colleagues, and loved ones if they have certain textbooks they no longer use.
Wholesalers buy books in large volumes from publishers and sell them to retailers or resellers. You can purchase textbooks from wholesalers at reasonable prices and sell them on Amazon for a profit. However, you will need a substantial amount to buy books from this source as they deal in large quantities.
Online Market Places
Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay are renowned online marketplaces where you can sell and buy used books at affordable rates. On the downside, finding quality books on these sites is not always easy, and you will need lots of patience and a trained eye to find good books worth buying and reselling.
Publishers and Distributors
Publishers often work with distributors who dispatch their books to the marketplace. But buying textbooks from distributors will cost you a fortune. You can buy directly from publishers in some cases, but again, this will cost an arm and a leg.
You read that right! You can buy textbooks on Amazon itself and resell them at a higher price. However, this strategy exclusively works for Amazon prime sellers. An everyday seller might not find this profitable, and students pay premium fees for books they need urgently on Amazon prime.
2. Choose a Fulfilment Method
There are two shipping and customer fulfillment methods on Amazon, FBM and FBA. Each method is characterized by unique features as detailed below:
FBM (Fulfilment by Merchant)
Here, the seller is obligated to package and ship items to customers. They will also handle customer support services, including returns and complaints. Shipping services available for this option include FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon)
Here, Amazon handles packaging, shipping, delivery, and customer support services in place of the seller. However, you must pay a fee in return for this service — but it is super convenient and makes it easy for your textbooks to climb the ranks.
You should opt for FBM if you have minimal inventory or inconsistent sales. On the other hand, FBA is best suited for sellers with large-scale inventory and little to no storage capacity. With FBA, Amazon will also store your books pending sales.
Opening a Seller Account and Making Sales
Once you’ve sourced the textbooks you are looking to sell and identified the best fulfillment method for your account, you can open an account. Follow these steps:
1. Select an Amazon Seller Plan
The seller plan you choose will determine your business model. Amazon offers two pans:
The Individual Plan — You can set up an account with this plan for zero dollars! But Amazon will charge $0.99 for each unit sold.
The Professional Plan — The professional seller account charges $39.99 per month. On the plus side, Amazon won’t charge a dime for books sold.
To set up your account, go to the Amazon seller central website and click on the sign-up icon. Follow the attached instructions, and you are good to go. Make sure you have a valid phone number, tax information, and a payment card at hand!
2. Set Competitive Prices
You must set a competitive rate if you want your book at the top of the rankings. You can research the rates currently charged by other sellers (for the same textbook). Your prices should be on par or higher than that of your competitors. Check the product details page of each book to determine its selling price. Then calculate the profit with the Amazon Seller Revenue Calculator.
3. List and Sell
The last step is to list your textbook(s) for sale on Amazon. Sign into your Amazon seller account and click “Add Product’ from the “Catalog” menu. Then type in the book’s ISBN (you can find this on the bar code at the back or copyright page).
If your book is already listed on Amazon, simply choose the book’s condition, whether new, used, or collectible. Then select “Sell this Product” from the drop-down menu. Next, attach a unique identifier (SKU) to your book (a code of preference).
The platform will generate a code for you if you fail to provide one. Afterward, type in your set price (as discussed earlier) and add the number of textbooks you have for sale. Select your pre-determined fulfillment method and save the details.
Sometimes, your textbooks may not be available on Amazon, and the search results will bring them up. In this case, you’d have to create a new product listing for your textbook(s). Here, you will fill in the textbook’s relevant details, including title, author’s name, price, and quantity.
A Nugget of Wisdom
Once your textbooks have been successfully published, track your sales to determine which texts are selling and which aren’t. If your books are selling beyond expectations, review your prices.
Consider lowering the prices to attract a huge “buy box,” but do not underprice at your expense. Weigh your options carefully and exercise patience because some textbooks don’t sell right off the bat.
A Brief Glance at Book Rankings
Book rankings are critical to textbook sales on Amazon, and you must have a good grasp of how the rankings work to navigate the dynamics. Here is a straightforward explanation:
5000 or less — Refer to successful books in extremely high demand. They sell very quickly at competitive prices.
5000 to 30,000 — Also successful books that sell about 5 to 25 copies in a day. A good yardstick for textbook merchants on the platform.
30,000 to 400,000 — Sells copies regularly (one to two copies per day) but are not that popular. Often have few sellers and isn’t competitive (can work to your advantage).
400,000 and above — These books are anything BUT successful! They may not sell for weeks at a go or sell a few copies in a month.
Research the rank of the textbook you want to list by searching for the book on Amazon. Select “Product Details” and click on the “Best Sellers Rank” at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
Selling textbooks on Amazon is profitable when you play your cards right! This guide is well-detailed and guarantees remarkable results. But if Amazon is too much trouble for you, there are equally wonderful but stress-free alternatives like BookScouter.com.
Buying and selling books with this platform is as easy as pie; just put in your ISBN (or book title), and you’ll see all current offers for the book from 30+ online bookstores and buyback vendors. You don’t have to risk the disappointment that comes with futile sales, as you will get different offers from multiple vendors and choose the best one!
Additionally, if you sell books in bulk, you can distribute your books to several vendors for a robust monetary gain. This is one of the best ways to get the most out of your old textbooks without hassle. So, you can effortlessly trade in your old textbooks and earn a handsome commission in return.
BookScouter also offers buyback price history that you can check out on the spot and other great tools for book sellers. Again, you don’t have to scout for vendors manually by typing in the ISBN of the book you want to sell; simply enter the book’s ISBN or title in the search field, and it will bring up all the offers for the book at the same time. Also, feel free to check buyback price history and set up a buyback price alert to sell your book when it’s in high demand.