Any advice for a newbie seller on Amazon?

So I have a vast library of books that I need to dispose of. I’d like to get some $ out of them, but only if selling isn’t too much of a hassle. The alternative is to haul them to the library for their book sales.

So my first thought is to sell some thru Amazon. I’ve listed a handful today, priced them just under similar copies and we’ll see.

But I have a few that don’t seem to fit the mold. Anyone have any advice for these?

I have some “uncorrected proofs”, and shows one to be worth quite a bit ($150 for one that is $10 otherwise).

It looks like on Amazon, you find a listing that matches your copy the best, but the only place you can add a comment is in the condition space. Should I say, “uncorrected proof” in that field?

Any other advice? Most of my books don’t have an ISBN number (too old), but that doesn’t seem to be a problem do far; I just look up a book by title and/or author.

I wonder what the correct term is for the slight yellow-brown discoloration that occurs near the edges of pages due to age and oxidation? I have some 60 yo hardback books in quite good condition, but probably not printed on acid-free paper, and I want to describe the appearance accurately.


I believe an uncorrected proof can be listed as Collectible on Amazon, but you do need approval to have those options opened to you.

So I listed a dozen books for various prices. After a week, I had one sale.

The Buyer’s price was $2.79 plus $3.99 shipping.

The Amazon commission was 2.76 (!)

It cost me 2.82 to ship it by USPS media mail, and $1 for the padded shipping envelope.

I netted $1.20 as long as you don’t count gas and labor taking it to the post office.

Why should I continue? This doesn’t make any sense. Sure, if I set the price higher, I’ll make more if it sells, but there are an awful lot of books out there listing for one penny plus shipping. What’s the point?

Amateur/newbie sellers are going to have a hard time competing on most of the penny-priced items. Those are cost-effective to big sellers who have bulk-negotiated shipping contracts.

The exception for small sellers is if the item is particularly small and light - a small profit can still be gleaned out of the shipping cost in this case.

That’s why I don’t shop on Amazon unless I know it’s used as a textbook. It’s not worth it. You’re competing with big used bookstores and warehouses.

But as a Buyer, why would you worry about that?

Do volume sellers of books priced at $.01 plus $3.99 shipping actually make a profit? (I guess so, or they wouldn’t do it.) But this means that:

  1. They must have shipping containers that cost much less than $1, even for heavy books, and
  2. They can ship for much less than $2.82 each book, and
  3. Their overhead to find, pack, and deliver to shipper is only pennies per item, and
  4. Amazon charges them much less than 2.76 for a .01 sale.

Is this the case?

Probably, or something like it. In some cases, they might be taking a small loss on some items in order to maintain a volume of shipping so they get their negotiated discount in general, for the rest of their business.

I previously worked in a publisher’s distribution company and that’s how it worked - we had a couple of not very profitable contracts that made no sense on their own, but bulked up our total shipping volume to a level where we enjoyed a price break on all the shipping.

I don’t know how you netted $1.20 out of this. It seems like you received 2.79+3.99 = 6.78 and paid 2.76 + 2.82 + 1 or 6.58, for a net of 20c. Did I miss something?

I wasn’t familiar with how Amazon charges sellers, but it looks like for a book it’s 2.34 + 15% of your selling price. It doesn’t seem like you can make money selling things so cheap. It’s too bad - I have a few boxes of books taking up space in my apartment, too.

I used to sell on Ebay and will probably go back to it again at one stage. My sister sells a lot. I haven’t checked her listings for a while but she mostly sells books and at one stage, she would list every week. She makes a tidy sum though she takes the losses or the no sales with the profits.

I believe the secret to doing well on Ebay is to establish your reputation. I would hold off on advertising the collectibles until you have a fairly good rep. You can earn that through selling off cheaply priced items first. Don’t try to profit off the postage. Some people do not like that and might leave you negative feedback for it.

You can get lucky. I once sold a photography book for $120. It originally cost me $34. I didn’t price it highly. Bidding drove it up. In fact, I felt quite embarrassed about it.

To me, it is all in good fun and any books I sold were ones I didn’t want anyway and to get even a small about of $ for them was better than nothing.

I would also caution about putting too much up at once. It is difficult to keep track of everything especially if you are holding down a full time job at the same time.

Amazon has a $1 commission that is waived if you are a “pro” seller and pay them like $40 a month for the privilege. So instead of $1 + fixed commission amount out of shipping (different for expedited vs standard) + 15% (6-20% depending on category), the $1 goes away.
Actually a lot of the pro sellers ship by media mail too (at least for heavy books), so your shipping cost isn’t much more than theirs - the pro sellers are definitely netting pennies per book for the .01 + shipping books. Most of them just ship the .01 books in a manila envelope without any packing materials. In bulk that probably costs <.10 for materials.

Your math is better than mine, and my profit was less than I thought.

Guess most of the rest of my books will be donated to the library’s book sale.

Where the pros will snap up the ones with any potential and sell them on amazon.

Isn’t there an option now at Amazon where you box up all your books, send them to Amazon, and let them do the selling and shipping? “Fulfillment by Amazon”?

I sold at Amazon for awhile, and the only books I made any money on were collectibles, first/limited/signed editions.

So the trick is to try to determine in advance what might be valuable. I have a little bit of knowledge in that department, so I won’t just dump everything in a box without checking individual titles. And I know my library well enough that I can pull out ones that are signed by authors, or first editions.

Yes, but when I checked into that, there were additional costs, like you have to ship your books to them first, at your expense. I’m a little skeptical after my short experience.

Fulfilled by Amazon works best for:
Items that can’t ship First Class Mail or Media Mail
Items that turn over quickly
When you have a large number of items to sell

That is because Fulfilled by Amazon has a charge per month for storage, and then shipping costs that are probably half of what you could ship for yourself, or better for heavy items. (But that comes out of the base selling price, so no .01 books). So if you ship them a large number of items (so the initial shipping charge to send to them in the first place is divided over lots of items), and they sell quickly, you save on shipping charges.
But for items like books, it usually isn’t worth it because Media Mail is nearly as cheap as what Amazon would charge, and many books don’t move very quickly.

We dropship DVDs for several sellers on Amazon, Alibris, Barnes and Nobles and (EBAY). We’ve been doing this since 2002. Our set up is very simple and will require a little research on your part - finding the DVDs that we sell which you’ll be able to mark up to a point that will make you some money. (We sell the movie DROP DEAD FRED, for instance, for $19.99. This DVD can typically be sold on Amazon for $40.00 and more. We have quite a few DVDs like this. You just have to do the research yourself.)

Our dropshipping guidelines can be found here:

We have unlimited stock on most titles, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask. The majority of our stock is imported from Brazil. The DVD covers are in English. The audio is in English, sometimes with foreign subtitles that can be activated or turned off. The DVDs are formatted for US and Canadian DVD players. In other words, they look and play the same as those made in the US. The only difference is they’re far less expensive and more available.

What you’d need to do is simply find which DVDs you’d want to list, list them, then when you make a sale, make the purchase at our site: You’ll want to make sure to add a note stating that it’s a dropship order so that we can leave out the invoice. But you’ll read all about it on the Guidelines page.

So if you’d be interested in our dropshipping services, feel free to start listing our DVDs on Amazon and wherever else you’d want to sell DVDs.

The trick is to find the mailers at a reasonable price. We buy ours from at about 25 cents per bubble mailer. If you pay retail it will eat up all your profits.