Amazon and eBay are two of the largest ecommerce platforms for selling books. Amazon started as an online book store and eBay is known as the place to find great deals on used items.
Each of these platforms are a perfect opportunity to make money as a bookseller since you get access to their large customer bases with a few clicks. Selling books on Amazon is
This guide is perfect for people who are looking to start their online arbitrage game (specifically in book flipping) and sellers looking to add additional revenue streams to their ecommerce portfolio. This guide provides tips and tricks to getting started and also some additional insight to show additional money making opportunities that are usually overlooked.
Amazon and eBay have a few little nuances that make each platform unique, but with a little practice and knowledge, you can use both for a good profit margin. Before we dive into the exact details, we need to start with a primer on the differences between the two platforms.
Amazon: Amazon is known for being the leading online retailer and has an extensive network of fulfillment centers and top notch customer service. That being said, selling books on Amazon comes with a price (in the terms of higher fees).
And in order to provide an Amazon like experience for every customer, you are subject to higher standards and policies. On the plus side, Amazon does make it a lot easier to sell and they handle a lot of the marketing for you.
eBay: eBay lives as the online garage sale of the world (well that’s what I like to at least call it). It is designed to sell new and used items and to have the ability to launch auctions. From my experience, eBay is perfect if you have a product that isn’t listed in “new” condition.
This lends itself well for sales as most books bought and sold are not in “new” condition. eBay also has a lower fee structure and a few less rules and policies than Amazon.
The downside with eBay is that there isn’t an extensive fulfillment network and the seller is left to a lot of the busy work of shipping and prepping books to send to the customer.
This is just a brief comparison of the two platforms. Below, we go into a little more detail of each of the platforms.
Amazon VS eBay
Everyone knows Amazon and you know that they are the king in the online ecommerce space. Hundreds of thousands of sellers join Amazon a month and millions of purchases are made. It’s a space that is extremely competitive, but if you win, you win big.
I have been an Amazon seller for years and it is hands down my favorite (and most profitable) marketplace vs eBay. That being said, there is a steep learning curve to get started.
And there are a lot of rules and policies you have to follow in order to stay in good graces with Amazon. Even though it is difficult to get started, Amazon opens up the door to more customers than you can imagine.
eBay on the hand, is no small platform itself. It has over 170 million active users and it has some features that set it apart from Amazon. In particular, eBay gives you a little bit more flexibility with your listings and the way people can purchase items from you.
You control the listing, the price, the photos, and can sell products in any condition you choose. The fees are also reasonable if you don’t mind shipping. You can also negotiate with customers and set your product up in an auction style format.
With all of that customization, you also find that eBay takes more time and effort than listing on Amazon.
Regardless of the platform you choose for book sales on, both have a ton of upside and potential.
I view books as a low risk way to get started on either platform. If I have never sold online before, I would push you towards eBay to get your feet wet. If you want to dive in and start making money, eBay is quicker, but Amazon is easier in the long run.
Book Sales Price
When looking at the selling price of a book, you have to consider the type of book and the condition in which the book is in. Books in new or like new condition will sell at a higher price than books that are heavily used.
Certain types of books (such as reference and textbooks) and newer books will sometimes have a higher value than books that have been on the market for sometime.
When we look at the differences in platforms, you are typically able to list and sell books on Amazon for a higher price compared to eBay. I have found over the years that buyers on Amazon are willing to pay a higher price for a book since they have access to Amazon’s customer service and Prime shipping.
As a seller, it is to your advantage to consider using Amazon’s FBA service (fulfilment by Amazon) to take advantage of the higher selling prices.
FBA gives these privileges for the following reasons:
- FBA provides a two-day (or even a one day) Prime delivery, for which most buyers are pleased to pay an even bigger premium.
- Amazon generally rewards the Buy Box to Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) offers over merchant-fulfilled (FBM) offers.
Many buyers on Amazon, purchase any offer that holds the Buy Box without even considering other competing offers and are also ready to pay more to get the books.
Don’t get me wrong – eBay is still a great platform to sell on, but I tend to like getting the biggest bang for my buck. That’s why I prefer selling on Amazon when I am selling books and use their FBA service.
We will talk more about FBA and FBM as an Amazon seller in the next section.
Shipping Out Your Books
If you are familiar with selling on eBay and Amazon, you know that their shipping practices vary a great deal. Each method has its pros and cons, but understanding the difference can help you determine which platform to use for a given product.
Amazon: Amazon has two different ways that a seller can deliver the books or other sales items to its customers, which include:
- Fulfilled by Amazon (Amazon FBA)
- In this method, you ship your books to an Amazon warehouse and Amazon handles the rest. With this service, comes an added price tag, but it also provides some additional perks.
- Items that are sold via FBA are eligible for Prime shipping and Amazon handles the customer service on your behalf. You can literally go on vacation and Amazon will handle any order that is placed.
- Fulfilled by Merchant (Amazon FBM)
- Through FBM, the seller is responsible for packing up the items and shipping it to the customer directly.
- The seller does have access to Amazon’s discounted shipping rates, but there is a considerable amount of work that needs to be done when each order comes in through Amazon.
eBay: The shipping process at eBay is very similar to the Fulfilled by Merchant shipping on Amazon. When an auction ends or an item sells, the seller is responsible for handling the packing, prepping and shipping process.
Sometimes additional money can be made by charging more for shipping than it actually costs, but you must be accurate with your estimates to ensure you don’t get overcharged for shipping.
Consistent and rapid delivery of your books to customers also come with specific incentives on eBay such as a reduction in fees as a Top Rated Seller.
Please note that these are taken from the most recent policies that Amazon or eBay have listed that this was written. We will do our best to update this should they change.
Amazon Selling Fees
Amazon fees comprise two different basic selling fees, for professional and individual accounts.
Professional seller accounts are mandated to pay a fee of $39.99 per month. In contrast, individual seller accounts have a fee of $0.99 per each sale instead of the monthly fee.
The individual plan is designed for sellers that have a limited number of books up for sale. It is strictly meant for sellers that have no more than 40 books to sell per month.
Individual seller plans also include a closing fee and a referral fee. This does not matter if you sell a used or new one.
An Amazon Seller also pays a closing fee for each media item that you sell.
Media items that are subject to fees include Book, Music, Software & Computer/Video Games, Video, Video Game Consoles.
Sellers are also mandated to pay a referral fee on each book sold, and that comes with a 15% charge.
If you choose to sell via Fulfillment by Amazon, you will also have additional fees that include shipping, pack and prep, storage, and an additional service fee.
There are also two basic eBay fees:
- These include an insertion fee which is required when you make a listing, and comes with a flat fee of $0.30.
- The other one is the final value fees.
- Both fees are billed when your books are purchased.
The final value fee entails 10% of the total sale price on your books, unlike Amazon with 15% charges.
Your total sale price includes your books’ retail prices, shipping fees charged to the customer, and any listing upgrades (such as gallery promotions, bold listing, and reserve prices).
In short, it tends to be slightly cheaper to sell on eBay than it is to sell on Amazon. It is also important to have a general idea of the fees as it can help you determine price points for the books you are listing.
Scalability Of Selling Books
To be honest, the scalability of selling books is going to all depend on the business model selected and the level of effort you are willing to put forward into your business. There are millions of books on the market and there are a million opportunities to make money.
In terms of platforms, selling on Amazon can be scaled at a quicker pace than eBay. Since Amazon has their FBA services and a lot of listings already created, you can quickly list and have books available to sell without having to do everything manually.
That being said, I know a lot of people who make a killing on eBay and they have built successful businesses.
There are two common pitfalls to scalability: Sourcing and Handling
If you want to scale, you need to be able to find more inventory on a regular basis. That becomes more and more difficult when you are buying hundreds of units compared to a handful from a local store.
A great way to scale is to turn to online resources and use software like Tactical Arbitrage to do the heavy lifting for you.
The second pitfall tends to be the shipping, prepping, and handling of items. It might take a couple of minutes to pack up an item and ship it out from home. Now multiply that by 100 orders a week.
This creates a bottleneck and slows down your ability to scale. A great way to avoid this is by using a fulfillment service (such as Fulfillment by Amazon) since it handles the majority of the work for you.
When Should You Embark On Scaling Your E-Commerce Business?
This is going to be a very personal question and it is going to take some analysis of your time, talent, and capital. I advise most sellers to set their business up with scaling in mind and slowly grow instead of going from zero to 100 right away.
It is a best practice to scale slowly to ensure your systems work as they were designed and you are able to handle the workload. I have personally scaled too quickly in the past and it left me fighting to stay afloat.
In business terms, you should scale as long as your income is greater than your expenses in a marginal sense (in non-economics talk – you should scale if selling another unit will make your additional profit).
The first step to a million sales is to concentrate on getting your first book sale on Amazon or eBay. Find some used or new books that rank well on Amazon or eBay with some reviews and make your first sale.
You will need to find a product, list the product, sell the product, and ship the product. Once you get your first sale under your belt, you can start looking at ways to scale and grow.
And another piece of advice – Before you start expanding your business, you need to make sure your account is in good standing and you are familiar with all of the rules and policies on Amazon or eBay.
Nothing is more frustrating than building a business and having it taken away because you were breaking rules you didn’t even know existed.
Online Arbitrage To Find a Book To Sell
One of my favorite ways to find books to sell on eBay and Amazon is through online arbitrage. I enjoy this method because I am not limited to a geographical location plus I don’t have to put pants.
And I can do it anytime I have access to a computer (plus there is some software out there that will actually do the searching for you while you sleep).
My personal favorite way to do online arbitrage is by using Tactical Arbitrage.
Their library tool allows you to search for new and used books with just a few clicks. And you can set it and forget it.
I get a notification that the search is complete and I can quickly glance through the possible flips. I run this search a few times a week and I have had great success finding a lot of great deals.
If you are considering selling books on eBay or Amazon, the possibilities (and the profit) are endless. Amazon has an extensive audience and eBay is great for beginners and those who like to have more control of their listings and shipping.
I personally recommend getting started selling books on ebay and then expand over to Amazon once you get the process down.
Regardless of the platform you choose, the process for selling books is simple:
- Find a book that is at a low price that sells on Amazon or eBay.
- List the book on the site.
- Wait for the sale.
- Ship the book to the customer (or use a fulfillment service).
- Repeat the process.
You will learn the small nuances along the way (for both platforms), but it is pretty easy to get started selling today.
Once you are ready to scale your business, consider using a fulfillment service such as Fulfillment by Amazon and using a sourcing software like Tactical Arbitrage (honestly – you should start using this right away to find some amazing deals).
- Is it worth it to sell books on Amazon?
Yes, it is. There is a lot of money that can be made if you find products at a low price and are able to list them on Amazon. Amazon is the world’s largest online book store and hundreds of thousands of books are sold each day.
- Is eBay a good place to sell books?
Yes, it is relatively cheaper to sell books there. Selling books in general is a good move, especially when you are selling antique or used books. I recommend getting started on eBay and then expanding to Amazon once you understand the process of selling online.
- Can you make money selling used books on eBay?
Yes you can! eBay is the best place to sell a collectible or used book as the platform is well-known for selling used items. Selling used books on eBay can yield high sales potential and profit.
- How much does it cost to sell books on Amazon?
Individual sellers on Amazon are meant to pay a fee of $0.99 per book sold, a closing fee of $1.80 and a 15% referral fee on book sales.