Book #1: $4.20 price + $3.99 shipping = $8.19 buyer cost.
$8.19 - ($2.79 fees + $3.72 shipping) = $1.68 total profit.
Book #2: $9.80 price + $3.99 shipping = $13.79 buyer cost.
$13.79 - ($3.81 fees + $2.79 shipping) = $7.19 total profit.
Book #3: $4.75 price + $3.99 shipping = $8.74 buyer cost.
$8.74 - ($3.05 fees + $2.79 shipping) = $2.90 total profit.
What I love about Amazon is that it's so easy. And fast. It involves gathering up books you don't want, "listing" them on Amazon (which takes about 30 seconds), and when/if they sell, printing out postage and popping them in the mail. You could list dozens of books in an hour, and it takes about 15 minutes of work per book after they sell, from printing the postage to walking out to the mailbox.
Before I give you my procedure for picking books to sell, let's talk about Amazon fees and shipping.
Amazon Fee Structure
Every book you sell on Amazon will cost $2.34 right off the bat, thanks to their variable closing fee ($1.35) and per item fee ($0.99) if you're not a member. Of course, I'm not a member because that costs $39.99 per month. On top of the $2.34, Amazon charges another 15% of your listing price.
Maybe it's just me, but I feel like shipping costs have gotten higher, and Amazon's fixed shipping price has stayed the same. Media mail is only a little less than regular priority mail, and to ship a small book cost me $2.79. The large one cost $3.72 to ship- only $0.27 less than the buyer was charged.
In addition to shipping fees, don't forget about the cost of driving to the post office to ship a book that weighs over 13 oz.
Amazon or Ebay?
I love selling on Amazon because it is so easy. I don't have to take pictures of the book or spend time writing out a listing for it. However, I think we can all agree that $1.68 profit is kind of measly.
For the the larger books, or those under $5, I think Ebay would be worth a shot. Ebay's fees are only $0.30 insertion fee plus 10% of the final value. You can charge the buyer whatever you want for shipping. If I would have sold books #1 and #3 on Ebay, I would have made more money.
Book #1: $4.20 - ($0.30 insertion + $0.42 percentage) = $3.42 [a 97% raise from Amazon]
Book #3: $4.75 - ($0.30 insertion + $0.48 percentage) = $3.97 [a 37% raise from Amazon]
Ebay is wonderful for selling books in lots. One time I sold a three-pack of Joel Salatin books on Ebay for more than they were worth on Amazon separately. If the book doesn't sell on Ebay, you are only out your time.
Is It Worth It to Sell Books Online?
If it takes me 30 minutes to list, package and mail a book, how much am I earning per hour? Remember, I would consider $4.00/hr. to be a qualifying wage for me. Yours may be more or less.
Book #1: $3.36/hr.
Book #2: $14.38/hr.
Book #3: $5.80/hr.
Tips Before You Sell
To avoid selling book #1, keep the following in mind.
1. Don't sell books worth less than $2.50. Any book worth less than $2.50 will NOT make a profit on Amazon, and books in the $2.50-$5.00 range will make a minuscule profit.
2. Choose small or paperback books. Books over 13 oz. require a trip to the post office. Amazon charges the buyer $3.99 for shipping regardless of how much it ACTUALLY costs to ship the book, so every penny that you can save on shipping is yours to keep.
3. Sell niche non-fiction books. In most cases, fiction books are not worth enough money to sell used. I enjoy reading homesteading/gardening/DIY books, so that is what I know the value of. I've also had great luck selling books from small Christian publishers.
4. Sell new books. As a book gets older, the value almost always goes down, unless it is a very niche book (see above).
5. Sell books you will only use once. In December I bought a Panama Lonely Planet book for our trip. Since we won't be returning to Panama before the information in the book is outdated, I resold it after we came back. Even though the value of the book went down during that time, after selling fees I was still able to recoup 42% of the cost.
6. Don't sell "old classics". Books like Who Moved My Cheese or Great Expectations have been republished umpteen million times and there are truckloads of copies plastered all over the planet. Though best sellers are typically good reads, they don't have a lot of resale value.
What do you think about selling used books online?