Selling Books on Amazon 101
If you’ve thought about selling used books on Amazon FBA, you’re in the right place.
This article is a beginner’s guide to selling used books.
Understand that I discovered books on Amazon because I was already reselling.
But books are a dope option for anyone because there’s a plethora of them!
You got library sales, garage sales, thrift stores, schools, estate sales, the Internet, and auctions.
Used books also make a great first business that you can use as a launchpad for your next hustle.
I say great first business because of the low financial risk and barrier to entry.
But my favorite part about books is that it’s a super scalable business model.
We’ll cover scaling at the end of the post.
In case you don’t believe that books are everywhere, let’s go over some of the most common FBA book sourcing methods.
- Thrift stores, garage sales, and friends of the library bookstores are where most people start.
These three methods are also the most known.
So, don’t get discouraged if you scan your thrift stores and don’t get a legit haul.
And make sure to talk to the employees to see if they have a set schedule for putting out new books.
- While we’re on the topic of libraries, make sure to keep an eye on https://www.booksalefinder.com.
This site tells you when and where library sales will be.
Reselling on Amazon FBA is a catalog game, so send in as much inventory as possible.
- Estate sales are another great option, especially if you live in areas with a high cost of living. Estatesales.net and estatesales.org are two vetted sites to focus on.
- If you have the startup capital and space, wholesale (bulk) books are super scalable.
Be careful, while scalable bulk is extremely labor-intensive.
Bulk is my current business model, and it’s easily some of the hardest work I’ve ever done.
Not just because of the load, but because I must find a way to monetize as many duds as possible.
If you buy bulk, set up an account with sellbackyourbooks.com.
These guys will buy non-Amazon worthy books from you.
- Auctions and liquidations aren’t the most guaranteed method, but occasionally you’ll get lucky.
- Lastly, there’s OA (Online Arbitrage).
Websites like eFlip let you buy low as MF (Merchant Fulfilled) directly from Amazon.
Then turn around and relist them as FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) for a profit.
This model works exceptionally well with textbooks.
When the college semesters start in August and January, the demand and prices for textbooks spike.
Then the prices drop back to normal after the season is over.
Giving you a straight shot at some insane margins.
I have an in-depth eFlip blog post that you can check out here.
Along with a video of my first time using it. #laptopmoney
FBA vs. FBM
FBA stands for fulfilled by Amazon.
FBA is where you ship your books into an Amazon fulfillment center.
Then the customer gets their book from the FBA warehouse after they pay for it.
There are storage fees associated with this model, and you have to pay to get the books to Amazon.
But FBA is still the more scalable option for these reasons:
- You get access to Amazon’s fulfillment centers.
- Amazon will package and ship completed orders to the customers for you.
- Amazon will take the blame for FBA shipping issues.
- Prime! People are willing to pay more for Prime, so don’t sleep on it.
Now for FBM.
FBM stands for fulfilled by Merchant.
FBM is like eBay but on Amazon without all the wasted time on listings.
You’ll list your item, and when someone pays for it, you’ll ship it yourself.
The obvious downside to this is that you must hold all your inventory.
But if you have space, MF lets you sell books that would not be profitable on FBA.
Or books that are worth good money but have a terrible sales rank.
Pro Tip: It’s always best to cross-list high-rank books on other platforms.
In the Amazon game, sales rank is crucial. Sales rank tells you the demand for an item.
And items with a lower sales rank will sell faster.
Booksellers try to stay under a 1MM (Million) sales rank.
To make sure that their inventory sells within a year.
And before the Amazon, long-term storage fees start hitting.
You’ll have to look at books over 1MM sales rank more closely to decide if the profit is worth the risk.
Understand that sales rank is only a snapshot of one point in time, and it can quickly change.
High sales ranks are where the whole selling books on eBay vs. Amazon debate comes into play.
If the book has a 2MM sales rank plus go ahead and cross-list, it.
Pro Tip: eBay is also a great place to list your restricted books.
But if you don’t want to deal with that mess, check out reezy.biz.
We’ll sell your restricted inventory for you and break bread.
Grading Your Books
To make sure that you don’t get flooded with bad reviews.
And lose your account, this is something that you want to take seriously.
Use this video to guide you through it:
Pro Tip: Never list books as new! If it’s new, just go with like new.
You might even get a positive review out of it.
Using the right condition will also maximize your profits.
Inversely you can downgrade your condition on one out of every 5-10 books to get more positive reviews.
If your book is like new, you can list it as very good to surprise the customer.
It is smart to do this on lower-cost items.
Here are all the conditions and how you should go about grading your books.
Brand new in the original packaging, just like it sounds with no flaws.
Used – Like New
Should appear as new. Even if it is not in the original packaging, it shouldn’t have any noticeable flaws.
Used – Very Good
These books will look used and can have a few minor flaws, but no writing or highlights!
These books must also have the dust cover and can’t be an ex-library copy.
Used – Good
Good books can have some notable flaws and be an ex-library copy with minor writing or highlights.
When I say writing or highlights, I mean to the point where the book is still readable.
Good books can also be missing the dust jacket but must not have any significant water or spine damage.
Used – Acceptable
These books will barely be in a readable condition.
Unless you’re a masochist that is looking for a hurting, don’t list any books that would fall under this condition.
Make sure to print or save the official Amazon guidelines from their site.
Pro Tip: When you’re in doubt, go with the lower condition.
Setting Up for Success
If you’re starting on a budget, you can get by with a $40 Bluetooth scanner and Scout IQ.
But let’s still run through the other accounts, tools, and apps that you’ll need.
- Get Your Amazon Seller Account
You have two options the Individual Seller account and the Professional account.
You can sign up for a seller account on your main Amazon shopping account.
On the top right select “Account & Lists.”
Scroll down to Other Programs and Select “Your seller account.”
The individual seller account is if you’re starting with a tight budget or going to be listing less than 40 items a month.
Amazon will charge you $0.99 for each completed sale.
So, the second that you start making more than 40 sales a month switch to a professional account.
Or if your shipping out a few hundred items right off the bat, then the professional account is the way to go.
- Apps & Software for Super Efficiency
The two best time saving-apps for booksellers are Scout IQ and Scan Lister.
- Scout IQ is a scanning app that tells if you if a book will be profitable on Amazon or not.
Scout IQ lets you download Amazon’s database of books, allowing you to go sourcing anywhere anytime.
And the default buying triggers will instantly tell you if a book is a stud or a dud.
TBH, Scout IQ, is the superior scanning app for Amazon.
Make sure to snag your free trial here.
- Scan Lister is the fastest listing software on the market.
Scan Lister lets you pay for lifetime access to the app at a low cost.
Don’t get pimped for subscriptions!
And stop wasting time on shipments, check them out here.
I also have a whole blog post about sending in your first FBA shipment and Scan Lister here.
One last thing that you should know about quickly scanning books.
Scout IQ is only one half of the scanning at Reezy speeds formula. The other half is a Blue-tooth scanner.
These scanners will connect to your phone and let you fly through books.
Check out all my recommended scanners and reselling supplies here.
Managing A Successful Book Business
Yes, your books hit the Amazon warehouse. It’s time to pop a beer and relax, wrong!
There are a few more things that you must-do if you want to get the most out of your inventory.
Repricing is a must, especially during the January and August textbook seasons.
There are programs like Reprice It, Sellery, and bQool that you can use to automate your repricing.
You’ll set rules to adjust the price of your inventory automatically.
It’s easier to set up repricers if you’ve manually repriced a few books yourself first.
Prices on Amazon always fluctuate. So, make sure that you take the time to set-up your repricer properly.
If you don’t have a budget, you won’t be able to feed the beast regularly.
You’ll have to build up your inventory before you start seeing stable returns every day.
So, calculate how much money you can invest in inventory every month.
If you need daily access to your Amazon payouts, Payability lets you access your funds the next day.
That way, you don’t have to wait two weeks for Amazon.
If you’re not tracking your numbers, you’re not running a real business.
You also won’t be able to see your progress and how good of a job you’re doing.
Make sure to get a receipt for all your inventory and business-related expenses.
Even if it means carrying a receipt book, don’t get caught slippin by the taxman!
For full reporting and analytics, The Book Flipper has the best spreadsheet in the game.
You can watch it in action for yourself here.
Now for a quick word about taxes.
Taxes are no joke; you should have a qualified CPA ensure that you’re paying the proper amount in taxes.
While simultaneously preserving your capital.
The CPA I’ve used (and trusted) for several years now is EcomCPA.
Give Jeremy a call, and he’ll take care of you.
If you want more on taxes, this article will take care of you.
- Promote yourself and network
Everyone in a 10-mile radius should know that you’re the book person!
Use Craigslist and Facebook posts.
Go to meetups, give out flyers, and carry business cards.
Tell everyone that you bump into that you buy books.
You’ll be surprised how much inventory this brings in.
- Systematize & Outsource
Once you know what you’re doing document everything.
And create step-by-step trainings in the form of videos and documents.
Then start looking for team members.
Start with friends and family, followed by job posts on Craigslist and Facebook.
Doing this will free up your time so that you can focus on working on your business and not in your business.
Books Will Work for You If You Keep Working
Great job, for making it this far, you’re probably more serious about reselling than other people.
And you’ll probably want an in-depth video guide that you can use to cover all your bases or to train your team.
Luckily, Jim Pickens has the best training on the market at a steal.
Here’s a quick checklist to make sure that you always know where you’re at:
- Create an Amazon Account.
- Gear up – the Scout IQ free Trail and a cheap scanner will let you test out your area.
- Pick a sourcing method and test it out.
- Source 100 profitable books.
- Prep/condition your books.
- List your books with Scan Lister and this blog post.
- Ship it.
- Reprice it.
- Account for everything along the way!
- Get your name out there and network.
- Repeat what works and get that bread.
You’re officially a Reezy Ninja now!
I believe that you can succeed; prove it to yourself!!
It’s time to be your own boss!!!
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