5 Introductory Tips on Bookselling with FBA

Books were the very first thing I sold on Amazon, and with good reason.  To this day, in my opinion, the books category in general is a very easy one to learn and start with.  I still get several book sales per week on stuff I sent in last year, all of which cost next to nothing, or actually nothing.

Here are 5 reasons I think prove why books are a great intro to FBA if you are nervous about the process, and want to learn without costly repercussions if you mess up.

1. Easy to ship

Books are sturdy and durable, and can be stacked neatly in boxes of all sizes.  Because of the amazing shipping deals Amazon has worked out, the inbound shipping is very small (it is with everything, but it’s always seemed more noticeable to me with books, simply because they are heavy).  I regularly pay under .30 cents a pound for book shipping.

2. Low Cost

It is remarkably easy to find low cost books; used books are as common as Botox treatments in Los Angeles.

My very first source was Goodwill, and any other thrift store I could find.  Hardcover books at 1.79 each, but I would only go on half price day and stock up.  All I was looking for was 10-20 good books, same like most other RA trips.  Scan, put in cart, move on.  Very easy to find books that sell for 10 or above and cost under a dollar in a quick thrift store trip.

After that I quickly upgraded to Craigslist, garage sales, estate sales.  Anywhere I could bulk up on books for next to nothing, quickly.  It is very easy to walk into an estate sale, eyeball a collection of books, and offer $20 or $50 dollars for them all.  Either a yes or no answer, and call it a day.  I picked up 300 plus hardcover children’s books once for $25.  At .08 per book, I feel safe in my investment.

3. Easy to Find

It was touched on earlier, but there are as many sources to find books to flip as there are Kardashians.

Thrift stores, Craigslist, estate sales, garage sales, library books sales, half priced book stores, even the big chain book stores have clearance sections that are generally pretty cheap.  Pro tip: Make a Craigslist ad, and offer to remove large bulk book’s (say 250 pounds or more) from people’s homes/offices/buildings for a small fee.  They will pay you, you get books to check through, and recycle the rest.  This is not as impossible of a task as you may believe, and either way the ad is free to post.

Just today in fact I jumped on Craigslist while i was slow at work, and found two “lots” of books I am picking up this weekend.  One is for 120 books on a very specific niche topic for $20, and the other was a lot of 300 brand new hard cover cookbooks from the 70s-90s for $100.  Will either pan out?  I think so, based on my experience, but I will check both before purchasing of course.

4. Rank is “Less” Important

This is not to say rank should be outright ignored.  But in most categories, it seems sellers have a set rank in mind and they stick to items under that number, except in specific cases.  With books however, the number of FBA sellers on the listing plays a much larger role than normal.  If I scan a book that cost $2 and is a rank of 7 million, but has no FBA sellers and 3 MF sellers at $137, I would buy it in 2 seconds.  The 7 million is absolutely not even an issue for me, because with books it is less important.  What happens is someone will come along, maybe in 6 months, and want that exact title.  And we all know the value of FBA versus MF, so my book will sell.  That simple.  And on a little investment like that, I’ll wait for the 6 months.  Or 10 months. Whatever.  With one copy and huge returns, I wait.

5. ROI can be HUGE

The ROI on books can be astronomical.  In the 1000s of %.  There is a book I buy from Europe and sell 1 or 2 copies of PER YEAR that cost me $39.95 and I sell it for $249.95 now.  Thats not 1000’s, but its a helluva return for one item.  It doesn’t sell many copies, but given the amount of work involved (almost none, as I order online and ship right in when it comes to my house) and the fact there are over 27 million book listings, I am certain the opportunity for more cases like this exist.

Using my cookbook example, if I sell every book at $9.95 that would be $2,985 dollars in sales on a buy cost of $100. And I promise you that if the books are truly new when I get there, there will be several that sell for more than $9.95.  Two weeks ago I sold an “Old World Kitchen Armenian Cookbook” for $14.95 that cost me .50 cents last year at a garage sale.  So what if I sat on it for a while, the ROI makes up for the length of time, and the fact that this book model is not generally bought with multiple books, Long Term Storage Fees need not apply.

One more quick thought I just had.  If the book is mass market fiction, it’s likely not going to be a very good book for you.  These are for the penny sellers, and they need to (and in fact do) sell thousands and thousands and thousands of these per month.

Books about religion, about the occult, about harvesting butterflies, about rock climbing in Persia, niche down and find specific titles, and they are where the money often resides.  Like everything with experience comes the eye of what is likely a good book to resell.

There are some great groups on facebook devoted just to booksellers, such as this one called Booksellers FBA.  Definitely a good resource if books is something you wish to pursue and add to your arsenal.

For me, books is a wonderful supplement to what I do on FBA.  And with the skills I’ve learned from watching some of these OA videos, I have been able to scour Amazon for some Book Arbitrage as well, which is great.  I might go 3 months without looking for a book, then a day like today where books are on my mind, and I purchase 420 books for $120 dollars.  Or if I am driving past a thrift store, I can run in and spend $20 on books, and make $100.

There is no reason to limit or hinder your financial progress, because it isn’t hard to learn about books and because they are so plentiful, and, regardless of what Prime has done for Amazon, books are still what they are known for.

So jump in and take advantage.

Everything, and I mean everything that I learned about books I learned from Peter Valley.  He has written many books, the one I got the most value from is this one, however I do not believe you can go wrong with any if you choose to pursue books.  I am beyond a devotee, if you go back through old facebook posts I’ve been mentioning and quoting him since we began FBA Master.  I’ve bought and ready every one of his books, and read his blog regularly because he makes me money.

It is worth checking out……you know……AFTER you read this one.    😉

– – J3


P.S.  A new book was just released on book sourcing by the Jim Cockrum led group, and they have consistently put out high quality material.  If you are interested in checking it out, here is a link.  It is a very general info book on starting with used books, and gives so many simple and immediately usable tips on sourcing for extremely cheap.  I cannot stress enough how under-utilized used books are as a category on Amazon.

One thought on “5 Introductory Tips on Bookselling with FBA

  • March 4, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    I Agree, and love the books category! When I started out, my goal was to buy $20 of books per day from anywhere. When I found our that many libraries have an ongoing book sale at every branch, and that my city has over 30 branches… well I then started my 1 new library per day adventure! I go to a new library branch every day after work, or during my lunch, pick up $20 books, and list them when I list everything else. If I can do this 6 days a week, I’ll have over 3,000 books in inventory – sales in under a year! 🙂

    This summer, i’m considering a book sale tour vacation. There are many monthly or annual book sales with 1,000’s of books for sale each. Can’t wait to fill my FBA storefront with thousands of books … a mini amazon, within amazon!


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