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Books may no longer be the first choice for sellers on Amazon, but they are no less interesting. After all, you can still earn money with either used or new books and eBooks.

For many sellers who are wondering which products they should sell on Amazon books are a surprisingly good solution - even if they only make up part of the portfolio.

In addition to choosing topics that are currently selling well or are part of a niche that is profitable for other reasons, it is particularly important to procure or develop books cost-effectively.

I will now explain the best way to sell books on Amazon and the extent to which the popular Amazon FBA is suitable in this case.

Selling used books on Amazon

The good news for sellers of used books is that little know-how is required. There are several apps that use the barcode or ISBN to find out how much a book is selling for, how often it is searched for, etc. If you have experience with books, you have an advantage, but you definitely don't have to be a bookworm to be successful.

I generally recommend proceeding in roughly the same way:

  1. Find out what the retail price of a book is on Amazon. If you come across a book that you can buy cheaply, you first need to find out the retail price. Tools like BookScouter can help you gather this data quickly. However, you must be aware that the difference between the two prices is not your profit, as you will incur numerous costs and fees.
  2. Create the listing. You need a seller account to sell a book. If you already have one, Amazon will ask you for some information, such as the condition of the book, the units available and, for example, how the book will be shipped. When choosing the price of a used book, you usually have to undercut the current market price, as buyers are looking for bargains.
  3. Update your listing regularly and adjust the price according to the market price. Tools can help you to automate this task.

As these steps are relatively intuitive, you are competing with many other sellers and therefore need to make sure you buy as cheaply as possible. Fortunately, there are a few tips here.

Libraries are the number one source for used books. They frequently renew their stock and therefore sell older books at good prices. It is worth keeping in touch with libraries in your area.

Books can be bought less regularly, but cheaply, on Facebook's Marketplace or eBay classifieds. Here, however, the quality of the book can leave a lot to be desired.

Universities and technical colleges can also be a source of well-preserved books in large quantities. For example, legal texts or specialist literature for IT are frequently updated, making older editions superfluous.

Selling new books on Amazon

Selling new books is not a bad idea, but it is much more difficult than selling used books. It's not due to the procurement of the books, but the competition is greater - unless you write a book yourself or have it written, but then we're on the subject of Amazon KDP.

If you sell new books, you buy them from wholesalers such as Libri. There are sometimes very favorable offers here and, above all, a high quantity. This is extremely important when selling books because, as with all other products, the profit comes from the margin per book sold, but above all from the quantity of units sold.

I strongly recommend taking seasonality into account when selling books. Although the demand for books can be observed all year round, sales figures tend to increase significantly in the cold months. Here you can expect more copies to be sold, as long as you have good reviews and a decent price.

While you have no influence on the seasonality itself, you can select new publications thematically. You also have to respond to social trends such as the latest diet or even trends in the world of work, such as working from anywhere.

Non-fiction books are generally a better choice than novels. For example, if a student needs a textbook for a recent lecture, they can't wait to order the book directly. Novels sell well to fans of an author or a series, but the prices are usually much lower.

Selling eBooks on Amazon

Amazon offers two different options for self-publishing books. Via Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and Audible, Amazon's audiobook service, you can publish your books without going through a publisher.

In this case, you don't need to be an author. Many sellers use ghostwriters to turn a book idea into reality. This opens the door to more frequent publications and more sales if you also approach several authors.

To be really successful, you need to reach as large an audience as possible. On the other hand, the competition should be as weak as possible. It is a prerequisite to conduct market research and publish books according to the readers' wishes. Keywords are particularly important for non-fiction books, as readers are usually looking for solutions to a clearly defined problem.

Novels are particularly popular via KDP. Here it is important to either recognize trends or choose a niche that has enough potential readers. A lot of money can be made with series, as this creates a bond between author and reader, which significantly increases readers' willingness to buy.

However, before you can achieve top chart positions and countless downloads, you first have to attract readers. To do this, you need to perfect your book marketing strategy.

Almost everyone has heard the phrase: "Never judge a book by its cover". The reason this saying is so popular is because that's exactly what people do: Buying decisions are primarily based on visual impressions!

Therefore, the cover design is even more important than the blurb and maybe even the title. So if you want to publish eBooks via KDP, you need to get professional help.

Fulfilled by Amazon for books

FBA is always an option for sellers, but not always the best one. It can also be worthwhile for books, but only if the profit margins are high enough and the books are not stored for too long.

So it really depends on whether you sell books that sell quickly and at high enough prices. Note that in addition to the FBA and sales fees, you also pay for the transportation of the books to Amazon's warehouse. This will quickly increase your costs and significantly reduce your profit margin.

So if you don't sell exclusive books, you are well advised to avoid FBA and look for a cheaper fulfillment service provider or do it yourself.

Tobias Dziuba

My name is Tobias and I am the founder and managing director of the Amazon agency Adsmasters GmbH based in Düsseldorf.

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