Ultimate guide to Dropshipping

How to sell books on Amazon: The ultimate guide for 2023

39 € (excl. VAT) per month + selling fees
Een man die een doos vol boeken duwt
Books are still very popular, whether they are, audio-,in printed, audio, or electronic format or antique collectibles. It is therefore understandable that new books are still being published in print form, but at the same time as eBooks or audiobooks.

If you are passionate about books and are interested in starting an online shop to sell books, there has never been a better time than now. With an increasing number of shoppers buying both physical and digital books (eBooks and audiobooks) via online platforms, the timing is perfect for delving into the e-commerce route for books; even if you already own a physical bookstore but want to grow your sales.

There are really no limits to the number and type of books you can sell online. From new books to second-hand books, fiction to non-fiction, textbooks, horror, mystery, romance, young adult books, or collections of poems, literally anything is possible. In recent years, online sales of comics and graphic novels have also increased enormously, contributing to the diversity of the online range of books.
Wat is een online boekwinkel?

Why do people buy books online?

There are many reasons for the increase in readers who buy books online. First of all, of course, there's the convenience: online shoppers don't have to leave their homes to make purchases.In addition, the range of online products is often many times broader than what buyers see in a physical bookstore.

Rare or limited-edition books are often difficult to find in bookstores. The quest for that one particular copy can also take many days, weeks, or even months, whereas online you can find and buy that last missing book – using search engines, for example – in minutes.

Opportunities for physical bookstore owners

Of course, this offers opportunities not only for readers and customers, but also for owners of physical bookstores. With an online shop, you can appeal to a new and wider audience. The ease with which an online shop can be launched also removes many of the challenges associated with starting up a physical shop.

Another big advantage is that, in turn, your inventory is not limited. You not only have the option of selling books purchased from other retailers, but you can also offer used books (for example, purchased at auction) in your online shop. Of course, you can also sell books that are in your physical shop at the same time.

No matter what situation you are in or what your ambition might be, in this guide we will take you step by step through the entire process of selling books online.

What is an online bookstore?

Simply put, an online bookstore is an e-commerce website that sells books. Some sites allow you to sell different types of books, while certain platforms such as Amazon allow third-party sellers to sell physical books only, for example. (On Amazon, a third-party seller is an independent seller offering new or used items for sale.)
Depending on the type of shop, almost every book you are looking for can be found online. Online bookstores can be divided into three broad categories:
  • General bookstores
    These types of bookstores usually sell many different books, from fiction to non-fiction. They usually have current bestsellers in stock, but also classics that are always in demand. Online bookstores that deliver within a specific country can offer titles published in that country only in a specific language, while there are others that offer books from around the world.
  • Specialist bookstores
    These bookstores only sell books in certain genres, such as mystery or self-help books.
  • Educational bookstores
    An educational bookstore specialises in and only sells educational or academic books, such as school or university books, academic journals, etc.
Hoe boeken te vinden om te verkopen

How and where to find books to sell

To get started selling books online, you need to know which books or category/categories of books you want to offer as a seller.

Once you've made a choice, there are various ways you can build up your inventory.
  • Purchase from existing retailers: You can connect with existing bookstores or retailers and suggest offering their books online on your website or platform.This gives you the immediate advantage that you don't have to worry about your inventory and the type of books you want to sell. as you simply take over the items that the existing retailer already offers. Of course, this also involves an important limitation: you can only offer items in the inventory of the existing retailer you are working with.
  • Buy in bulk: You can buy books in bulk from publishers or retailers, or even attend book auctions so you can present a diverse and wide range of offerings to your online customers.
  • Buy from wholesalers: You can also buy books in bulk from wholesalers and then resell them online via your e-commerce shop. The appealing thing about buying from wholesalers is that you can build up a large inventory more rapidly because you are paying a lower price per book.
  • Publish your own book: If you are an author or writer, you can of course choose to sell only your own books in your shop.Many authors maintain their own websites where they sell their titles, while some also post their books on sites like Amazon. Did you know that you can even publish and sell your own books with Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)? This is a publishing platform where authors can independently publish their books as eBooks that can be read on Kindle Readers or printed using the print on demand feature, which only prints a book if the buyer chooses to do so.

How to price your books

Perhaps the most important and at the same time most challenging aspect for sellers is setting the price for their book

How you price your books can depend on several factors. However, there are three important things that apply to every book:
  1. The condition of the book
  2. When selling books online, you must always explicitly state what condition they are in. Amazon has detailed guidelines that apply to both new and used books. In general, the different types of conditions are roughly as follows:
    • - A book in new condition must be completely intact, complete with its original cover, and protected by packaging. Books that are marked in any way or are labelled “bargain”, “remainder”, or similar cannot be listed as books in “new condition”.
    • - For a book to be considered used like new, it must have an intact dust jacket and clean pages without inscriptions or markings. Minor defects such as wear or creases are acceptable, as are books marked “remainder” on the outer edge as well as books that are missing some bundled media.In the latter case, it is important that in addition to accurately describing the condition of the book (used, as good as new, etc.), sellers also provide a description of exactly what is missing – for example. "The book is in good condition but lacks bundled items, etc."
    • – A book can be considered as used – very good condition if it has minor wear and stains. The dust jacket, box, and bundled media might be missing and the book might have certain markings on the outside. This must be mentioned in the listing details on the site.
    • – A book is considered as used – good condition if the cover page and all other pages are intact. Signs of wear might be visible on the back and small notes and markings on pages are acceptable.A book in this condition might be labelled "From the library of __". Certain pages might be missing.
    • – A book in a used – acceptable condition must have all pages and the cover intact. However, the box, the shrink film, and the dust jacket might be missing. Minor notes on the pages, markings, and minor water damage are acceptable as long as the text is legible. In this condition, it is acceptable if certain pages are missing.
    Note: These are general guidelines that do not apply to collectible books. This is because collectibles are generally considered more valuable. It is important to evaluate your books for yourself to see if they are, for example, first editions or unique, limited editions.
  3. Shipping, packaging, and sales costs
  4. When determining the final price of a book, you should always consider shipping and sales costs, as well as any other additional costs that might apply, such as storage costs, taxes, etc.
  5. The original price paid for the books
  6. As with any product sold online, it is the seller's responsibility to ensure that your price covers all your overheads, including those you incurred when you originally purchased the products you sell – in this case, the books.
While you can change the prices of your listed products later, it is a good idea to set them before you start selling. Making and considering your calculations carefully can help you reduce potential losses.
Boeken gestapeld naast elkaar

Understanding online payments for books

Amazon and most other online bookstores accept credit or debit card payments via a payment gateway. After payment has been made by the customer, Amazon will process payment to you, the seller. On your payments dashboard, you can see when and how much will be paid out to you.

Buying books on Amazon

You can find a wide range of books in Amazon's online bookstore. In addition, you can purchase physical, digital, and audiobooks on Amazon via Audible and Kindle eBooks.

Selling books on Amazon

To register as an Amazon seller and sell books, you must first create a seller account and provide the platform with all the required information. Next, you'll need to choose a selling plan and list all the books you want to sell.

Of course, you will need the necessary details about the books you are selling. The title, description, condition of the book, images, ISBN, SKU, and relevant terms (keywords) help potential customers and buyers find the books they're interested in.

If you need assistance in setting up your seller account, you can follow the Beginner's Guide. It provides a step-by-step overview of how to set up your seller account with Amazon. The guide also provides detailed instructions on exactly what information you need to start selling on Amazon

Understanding Amazon's selling plans

As a registered Amazon seller, you have two selling plans to choose from:
  • The individual selling plan has slightly streamlined features and is designed for sellers who don't have a very large inventory. Under this plan, you are only charged when an item is sold. The tools provided for this plan are designed for new sellers who are just starting out and have been simplified with these sellers in mind.
  • In contrast to the individual selling plan, the professional selling plan offers more tools and features. This selling plan is designed for larger companies that have larger inventories. With this subscription, you pay a monthly fee, even if you don't sell or list products, and you have access to features such as inventory tools for managing your orders and files.
One significant difference between the two selling plans is the listing feature.For example, with the professional plan, sellers can offer bulk or batch items, while sellers with the individual plan must list their products one by one.

There are a few other differences that you should take time to review before selecting a selling plan. Amazon's pricing page contains more information about this, including a handy comparison of both plans.You can also use the cost calculator to better understand and estimate how much the costs are likely to be in different scenarios.

What books can you sell on Amazon?

Many different types of books can be sold on Amazon.There is an extensive list of genres and categories to choose from. In se, you can sell just about anything, from comics to textbooks and autobiographies – and even used books. Amazon even has an eBook library that includes books published through KDP as well as books from other publishers.

How to list books on Amazon

Once you've created a seller account and decided what type of books you want to sell, it's time to list your products – that is, the books you want to sell – in your shop.

By default, a list of books is already available on Amazon; mainly popular books or bestsellers. In that case, you can simply find the existing listing by searching for a titleand then adding your description. This saves sellers the trouble of having to provide complete catalogue information for existing retail books, because the data – provided by the publishers of those books – is already in the system.

If you can't find a listing for a book you're selling, you can register a new listing for that specific book or books.Once again, there are detailed book listing guidelines} available for you to consult.

Make sure to divide each book into the appropriate category and provide a good book description, including physical condition, genre, author(s) details, versions, formats (hardcover or paperback), and other important properties.

You must also identify each of your books with specific codes used in the publishing industry. As a seller, you will quickly become familiar with these three terms:
  • ISBN (International Standard Book Number): This number is unique to each book and acts as an identifier.
  • SKU (Stock Keeping Unit): This is a unique number that is linked to a product and is intended for inventory keeping. It helps you as a bookseller to maintain an overview of your inventory.
  • ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number): This unique number is only used for items sold on the Amazon website. It generally (but not always) matches the book's existing ISBN. Every product on Amazon has its own ASIN.
As a final step, Amazon asks you to set your book price and select the fulfilment channel for your book orders (MFA or FBA).

Understanding the fulfilment process

Like any online e-commerce business, order delivery – also known as fulfilment – is an important aspect when it comes to physical items; in this case, all types of books with the exception of ebooks and audiobooks.As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for purchasing your inventory, as well as for storing it, managing it, and handling deliveries and shipments when customers order from your online shop. Finally, returns sometimes need to be handled. Online sellers must ensure reliable customer service in the event of delayed or incorrect shipments, damaged goods, etc.

How does fulfilment work at Amazon?

As a seller, you understand that it is very important that you choose who will handle the fulfilment process: yourself or a trustworthy third party. As an Amazon seller, you have three different options: Amazon's Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA) or the Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFA). De derde optie is dropshipping. All three options are explained below.
  • FBA: the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service is offered to Amazon sellers, with Amazon taking care of all the storage, packaging, shipping, and delivery of products locally in the Netherlands, Europe, and internationally.
    • Sign up for FBA
    • buy in inventory (books)
    • pack your books and ship them to the nearest Amazon Fulfilment Centre
    After that, the Amazon FBA team will handle the entire fulfilment process on your behalf. This includes storing, packaging, shipping, and handling any returns or customer service requirements. All you have to do is keep track of your inventory and check your sales regularly. Did you know that Amazon Selling Partners in the United Kingdom saw an average increase of 35% in sales when they moved their entire product list to FBA?
  • MFN: An alternative is the Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN), where you as a seller are responsible for handling the entire fulfilment process.This means that you are responsible for storing your book inventory, managing inventory, packaging the products, and arranging delivery with your own employees or other shipping or dropshipping partners. This is usually ideal for sellers who have their own delivery or logistics networks.
  • Dropshipping: Another alternative is dropshipping. In this model, sellers do not have to keep products in stock and can outsource the purchase, storage, and delivery of items to a third party. This method is used by some sellers who want to keep their overheads low by only being responsible for selling the products online, while a dropshipping partner takes care of everything else. If you plan to use this fulfilment method for your bookstore, you must comply with Amazon's Dropshipping Policy
You are aware that you need to think carefully about what you want for your business and what works best for you. Some Amazon sellers also choose to use a mix of different execution methods, such as FBA for certain types of books, in combination with MFN for other products they offer in their online shop.
Een man die boeken bezorgt

Tips for becoming a better bookseller online

Now that you know how to set up your shop, it's time to see what you can do to increase brand awareness, attract new customers, and build customer loyalty so your buyers keep coming back to you. Below are a few simple tips.

Do your research before you begin

The more popular and better-selling your products are, the more you'll sell,so make sure you carefully analyse which genres, titles, and types of books sell the most before you stock up. You can find a variety of resources online to help you do this. Also check out local retailers, bookstores, publishers, etc.

If you're planning to set up your shop on Amazon, be sure to check out the BSR (Best Seller Ranking) of books sold on Amazon. A BSR indicates how well an item sells on the website. The more the item is sold, the smaller the BSR number. It is a handy guide to finding out which books in your inventory are more likely to sell.

Honesty and transparency are critical

When it comes to a book, every detail counts.For this reason, make sure that the information you've entered about each book is one hundred percent accurate. This applies to even the smallest detail. Include photos of the real book, especially when it comes to used books or collectibles.

Focus on marketing and advertising

Never underestimate the potential of advertising and promotion. You can use various means to market your online shop, including social media campaigns. You can also collaborate with authors or publishers.

When you sell via Amazon, you get access to a wide range of advertising tools and features, including Sponsored Ads, Sponsored Brands, and Sponsored Displays.

Retail Price Maintenance (Books) Act

What is the Retail Price Maintenance (Books) Act?

Which rules apply in the Netherlands?

Below, we list the main points of the Retail Price Maintenance (Books) Act that apply in the Netherlands:
  • The Retail Price Maintenance (Books) Act only applies to physical books
  • The Act applies almost exclusively to books in Dutch or Frisian.
  • The law applies to the sale of books to end users and in the Netherlands.
  • The set book price must be maintained for the first 12 months after the initial publication of a title, after which time the seller has the right to “cancel” the fixed book price. Every price change must be communicated via the official database each time.
Important: Familiarise yourself with the above thoroughly before you open your shop. Breaches of the Retail Price Maintenance (Books) Act are subject to heavy administrative fines in the Netherlands, which can amount to EUR 90,000.

FAQ

How do I sell books on Amazon?
registered Amazon seller. After that, you'll need to list your books, select your prices, choose your fulfilment method, and create your shop. Once all this is completed, you can start selling. If you want to sell your self-written books, you can register for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
How much does it cost to sell books on Amazon?

The cost of selling books on Amazon depends on your selected selling plan.

There is a 15% referral fee for books.

In addition, you can charge fulfilment fees or other fees depending on the exact nature of your shop and the product market in which you operate.
Can I sell used books on Amazon?
Yes, you can sell used or secondhand books on Amazon as long as they are in an acceptable condition. Always make sure that you include a very accurate description of the condition the books are in.
Is VAT charged for selling books in the Netherlands?
VAT is charged on Amazon sales within the European Union (EU). In accordance with the laws that apply to EU member states, Amazon is required to charge VAT on all orders delivered to destinations within EU countries.
Can I use Amazon FBA to sell my books on Amazon?
Yes, selling books that fall under the BMVD (Music, Books, Video/DVD/Blu-ray) product category does not require approval. However, some specific terms/requirements might apply.
How do I increase book sales on Amazon?
Many customers shop to get the best price. Seller Central tools such as automatic price adjustment can help you stay competitive. Seller Central is the website where sellers log in to monitor their Amazon sales activities.You can manage inventory, update prices, communicate with buyers, check your account status, contact sales partner support, and add new products.
Can I still offer discounts or promotions under the Retail Price Maintenance (Books) Act?
Yes, but only if they are initiated by the publisher. A seller can offer the same discounts at the same time. Promotions in which the seller gives an extra gift to the buyer when making a purchase are also allowed, as long as the promotion is funded by the seller and is not exclusively available on Amazon. Books signed by the author can be sold at a higher price than the legal requirement.
Are there any exceptions to the Retail Price Maintenance (Books) Act?
Damaged books (where damage is clearly communicated during the sale) can be sold at a discount. In the event of the publisher's bankruptcy, books can also be sold below the legal price in some cases.
39 € (excl. VAT) per month + selling fees
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