Helping You with Your Amazon FBA Business

Selling Books on Amazon: The Numbers & Analysis

Hi everyone!  Back in May 2016, I started selling books.  I did so by joining Caleb Roth’s eFLIP service for online book arbitrage and buying used books locally.  In this post, I’ll share my actual book numbers and give you my thoughts.

The Book Numbers: Seller Central

To get started, I went into Seller Central and looked at my sales numbers for the book category only.  Even though I improved over last year, my book numbers aren’t that great:

2016 Book Category Only

Book Category from Jan 1 to Oct 13, 2016

In my defense, I spent most of last year concentrating on toys and most of this year concentrating on shoes.  Shoes and toys are my top two categories in terms of sales for 2016.

The Book Numbers: Excel Spreadsheet

The Seller Central numbers don’t tell me a whole lot other than I sold more books this year than I did last year.  So to really find out how my book business is doing, I gathered my own data and created my own spreadsheet.

This was easy to do as I just made a copy of my Tracking Spreadsheet that contains all of my listing and sales data for the year.  I then manipulated my copy to get the data that I needed and formatted it to look nice:


*** Out of the 74 books listed in May, 19 were damaged on the UPS truck and 1 was lost at the warehouse.  Amazon reimbursed me for those.  Reimbursement amounts are not included in the spreadsheet.  

*** I had 3 books returned over the summer.  The sales numbers for those 3 books are not included in the spreadsheet.

Book Data Analysis

The spreadsheet above has my actual numbers and it tells us a lot!  Here are the main points that I see:

Volume: I don’t have very many books at the warehouse and the number of books that I listed went down every month.  My excuses are that I went on vacation, was sick, focused on shoes and did other things.  If I want to be a serious bookseller, I need to send more books in!

Books are Profitable:  Look at the ROI!  My average of 158.70% is more than double than the 70% that I shoot for with shoes.

August is a Great Month for Selling Textbooks: I sell mainly used textbooks and August is a great month to sell them because the fall semester of college usually starts in the first week of September.

Pop Art Man Student Holding Stack of Books Education Concept. Vector illustration

Book Action Plan

Since books are profitable, it would be silly of me to quit selling them.  However, I do need to get my volume up and right now is a great time to do so.  Why?  Because I hear that January is another busy textbook selling month with the winter classes starting.

Therefore, my plan is to:

  1. Ship in a minimum of 20 books per week.  I know that 20 is a small number, but it’s an obtainable goal.
  2. For my eFLIP books, send books with a $12.00 or higher projected profit to my prep center.  FBA Prep & Ship will grade, prep & ship the books for $1.50 each.  I don’t like the extra charge, but I’m super-slow at prepping and shipping and I don’t like carrying heavy boxes of books.
  3. Look for books locally at book sales, thrift stores or garage sales at least twice a month.  I found some very low-priced books this way.  If you go back to my spreadsheet, I only paid $1.00 each for the two books that I sold in May.

I’m going to start increasing my book volume right away.  In February 2017, I’ll analyze my book numbers again and see how well I’m doing.  Wish me luck! 🙂

Book Tips

I’m far from being a book expert.  But here are a few things that I learned:

  • When buying books from Amazon’s Merchant Fulfilled Sellers, keep in mind that many overstate the condition of the book.  You may purchase a used-very good book and receive a used-good book because it has highlighting inside.  Therefore, when I’m making my purchasing decision, I make sure that my book is still profitable even if I have to sell it at a lower price due to a lower condition.
  • Many textbooks have stickers.  It’s not necessary to remove them.  It’s also not necessary to poly bag your books.


  • Books are heavy and I don’t like lifting boxes that weigh over 32 pounds!
  • A barcode scanner attached to the back of your phone coupled with FBAScan in database mode will help you scan books super fast.

My Socket Mobile Scanner has a a cell phone clip.

Last Book Sold

I talked more about eFLIP and shared a book that I sold in the post, eFLIP and What I Sold: 6/23/16.  I took a one month break from eFLIP in August and now I’m back with them.  Here are the numbers behind the last eFLIP book that I sold:

Book Name: The Religious World: Communities of Faith (3rd Edition)


Purchase Date & Rank: May 2016.  Rank at the time was 493,258
Sold Date & Rank: Oct 10, 2016.  Rank on Oct 13th is 620,013.

Price Paid: $8.29
Selling Price: $23.98 and sold as used-good.
Profit & ROI: $8.01 and 97%.

I hope you enjoyed this post and please share your book selling tips or experiences in the comment section below or on my Facebook page!

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Amol October 14, 2016, 4:00 am

    Great Post Diana. Very encouraging.

    • Diana October 15, 2016, 1:08 pm

      Thanks Amol!

  • Jessica October 14, 2016, 10:50 am

    Have you thought of trying Zen Arbitrage for finding books to flip online? Its the same price of the one you use, but is supposed to have a larger database. I currently use Zen myself and love it. They offer a free trial, I would be curious to see what you thought about the two in comparison to each other. Thanks for a great blog post!

    • Diana October 15, 2016, 1:12 pm

      Hi Jessica,

      I heard of Zen but haven’t tried it yet. I always love testing new products, so when I know that I have a few days in a row free to dive into it during the free trial period, I’ll give it a try and give a report on it!


  • Patti October 14, 2016, 2:50 pm

    Hi Diana, I love your blog it has been so helpful to me. I live in Camas Washington so we live in the same neck of the woods. One question for you. Are the fees included in your chart where you list the profit on the books? I have found the Amazon fees make it where I’m not really profitable on books. can you speak to that?
    I personally love looking for books so I would love to be able to make it profitable for me .

  • Diana October 15, 2016, 1:20 pm

    Hi Patti,

    In the chart, both the Amazon fees and the book costs were deducted and that’s the profit left over.

    Most of the books that I buy from eFLIP are between $4.00 and $16.00. I found that to at least make 100% ROI, that I have to sell it for 3x the buy cost. In the book example above, the buy price of $8.29 is just under 3X of my selling price of $23.98 and my ROI was just under 100%.

    For very low cost books of free to $1 or $2.00, I price the books at $10.00 or more to make it worthwhile.

    So pricing is one factor and the other is having the volume which I don’t have. The other thing that I look at is the 90 day average rank to see if the book sold steadily over the past few months.

    I went to the Camas Library book sale and the Washougal Library book sale over the summer. Keep your eye out if they have them again. The prices to buy were very low.

    Stay safe in this crazy weather that we’re having!


  • Patti Bryan October 15, 2016, 4:30 pm

    Thanks for the fast reply. It is very helpful. I did get lucky over the summer and bought a 4 volume set of Haiku books for a buck each at an estate sale and sold the set for 200.00..yay!
    The Portland book sale is next weekend…I definitely plan to go!! if I don’t blow away this weekend 🙂

    • Diana October 15, 2016, 5:11 pm

      Wow, that’s a great profit on those books! I didn’t know about the Portland Book sale. Not sure if I can go to that one but maybe we can meet up at one of the book sales some time!


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About Diana

I am working towards creating a full-time income by selling on Amazon. It's a lot of work but very fun! If you're interested in selling on Amazon, be sure to follow my blog as I'll be providing you with lots of tips!


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