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How to Sell Books on Amazon

11 Mar How to Sell Books on Amazon

The guideline on what books to look for, what books to avoid

If you've bought books on the Internet at a website like Amazon, you've probably noticed that there are used copies available at a lower price. Did you ever wonder who is selling those copies? It could be you. The Internet makes it possible for almost anyone to make some money by selling books. It can be done in just a few hours a week to make some extra money to pay for that new car or whatever else you would like to buy but can not quite afford now. Or you might be able to do it full time and make a decent living. But, for beginners, how do you know what kind of books will sell best and make the most profit? Here are the simple tips to help you determine what books to buy and what books to avoid.

Books to Avoid

– Textbooks are very profitable if you can be sure it is the latest edition. Usually, a new edition comes out at least every 5 years. Check that it has the CD-ROM if there is one. One of the tricks publishers have come up with to prevent textbook resale is to make customized editions for each University. It's pretty much the same book, just ten pages of local stuff in the beginning but that lets them use a different ISBN for each version making them very difficult to resell as it is only good at one college. Generally, 99% of the textbooks you'll see are worthless.

– Anything published by a magazine – Time, Life, National Geographic, Popular Mechanics, etc

– Anything that is falling apart unless it might be an extremely rare first edition valuable book from the 1800's. It's possible to fix books but it's rarely worth the trouble.

– Popular fiction – If you've heard of the author, it's probably worthless. There are a few valuable ones but unless you see it in a guide to rare copies, do not buy.

– Anything published by the federal, state or local government is probably available free somewhere else.

– Anything with a year number in it is probably published annually and is worthless unless it is the current one (and usually the 2010 edition will come out long before 2009 is over).

– Anything in a foreign language including Spanish

– Anything published by a book club – these use the cheapest possible materials and fall apart quickly.

– Any encyclopedia, dictionary or thesaurus

– Kids books unless they are old and have very good art in them

– Library books labeled 'YA' (young adult)

– Recently published autobiographies of anyone famous

– Diet books other than the latest craze top seller

– Cook books unless they are very specific subjects or very old

– Older art books on broad subjects like the renaissance, French painting, Italian sculpture

– Paperback romance novels

Books to Look For

– Bestsellers that have only been out for a week or two

– Books in the 100 to 1000 sales rank

– Non-fiction history books if they are very specific. The more specific the book subject is, the more likely it is to be valuable. For example 'Great Wars of the 20th Century' is almost certainly worthless. 'World War II' is still too vague to be valuable. 'Panzer Strategy in North Africa During the Later Years' is specific enough that it was probably a small printing and might still be of interest to historians, students or military strategists

– Non-fiction books that might help people make money like investing strategies, real estate.

– Non-fiction books that people might need at work – especially chemistry, advanced math, engineering.

– Art books on very specific subjects like the work of a single artist, the more obscure the better.

After you have tested the water, and you decide to run a larger business, then you'll need to be able to look up prices in a database or on the Internet to compete with other dealers to buy large quantities at competitive book sales. The following are popular tools you can use:

o Telephone Price Lookup

If you have a phone with a fast Internet connection, you can simply go to a site like, enter the book ISBN number and get the current used price. For older books, that do not have an ISBN number, you can check on a site like No matter how fast your phone connection is, this is going to be slow compared to pocket computers with local price databases.

You may use the cell phone price lookup. Based on the entered ISBN, it returns the present price on Amazon. The ISBN number can be entered manually or via an attached laser scanner if the book has a barcode.

But, for real speed, you will need a

o Pocket Computer

The pocket computers like the Dell Axim with laser scanner typically cost about $ 400. In addition, you have to subscribe to a service that lets you download updated price databases to your pocket computer, which costs about an additional $ 50 / month. The database usually contains CD's, DVD's, video games and sometimes other categories. If you're going to book sales and rummage sales, you'll find these items for sale in the same place. DVD's are video games sell fast and are cheap to mail. It's a nice supplement to a book business.

There's a half dozen similar services. Look at for the advertisements to compare the latest deals. Based on the book's ISBN number – which you can enter by pressing a button to activate a laser scanner if it has a barcode- the device tells you the used and new book price on Amazon as of the last day it's database was updated. It also allows live lookup of the present price if WiFi is available.

Now, with the tool you select, you are all set to run a book business on Amazon to make a decent amount of money.

By Mike Hu

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