Read on to see the results…
The Email I Received…
I got a mail with the following text:
“Do you have any old books in your house you don’t look at any more ?
Or have you ever seen books sold for pence at boot fairs or in charity shops ?
Tap into this amazing revenue stream by utilising Amazon to turn them into fast cash.
Check out this page for details of Robin Williams from the UK and his system for making an income part-time from home using Amazon:
so I thought I’d check it out. It makes more sense than a lot of other schemes I could mention. This one can’t be completely dodgy because I know Amazon and I know exactly how it could work. You can read the link above to see the full sales pitch (the sales pitch, by the way isn’t getting you to sell books on Amazon from which whoever created this page would be making no money, it’s to sell you the book that he’s written which (supposedly) tells you how).
Robin Williams? Seriously?
You can read below for some feedback you can trust (because guess what, I’m not trying to sell you anything) and make your own mind up. It even occurred to me that for this piece of marketing, perhaps Robin Williams is a made up name – because what are you going to get if you Google ‘Robin Williams’ to try and find this guy and ask him about what he’s promoting?
Guess what, you can buy his book on Amazon. There are plenty of others too, I think ‘used Books to Gold’ is another one. Just finish reading this article before you buy any of them…
My Experiment Selling Used Books On Amazon
So, anyways, here is what I did:
3 Very Simple Steps to List the Books for Sale in Amazon
- Find the Books – I found some books I’d be happy to part with from the bookshelves in our house, one particular book was ‘Napoleon for Dummies’ which I had bought my wife just as a joke (she’s French and had been going on about Napoleon so much the previous week that I bought her this book) for 50p from a charity sale.
- Set up an Amazon seller account – this is very easy to do and all quite intuitive from within amazon itself so I won’t go into details here
- List the Books – I listed 4 books including ‘Napoleon for Dummies’ (I’m quoting this one because this is the one which I’ve just sold) – listing each book is as simple as entering the ISIN number from the inside cover – Amazon will do the rest (i.e. the listing will have a picture of the book, reviews and the facility to ‘look inside’ and preview most books – all automatically after you enter the ISIN). Amazon is so huge, every book I listed already had other copies available for sale. So for each one I undercut the lowest price just slightly to make mine the best offer. For the Napoleon book which I’d bought for just 50p, the lowest price was £2!! So I listed mine for £1.80 making mine the best offer.
Pretty cool so far.
That’s it – I’m all done, now I just wait to sell one.
I didn’t want to invest too much time listing lots and lots of books because I don’t have lots and lots of books I’d be happy to part with (we gave all of those to charity shops already) and I wanted to see the whole process working first before spending time on it. I thought it would probably be ages before I sold one of these, if at all. Then I got an email from Amazon.co.uk Marketplace with the subject heading ‘Sold, dispatch now: ED-TIHR-ZR
Yippee! I’d sold a book. Not only that, it was the book that I’d bought for 50p and sold for £1.80. Of course I knew there would be fees to come out of this, but still expected to make some profit.
Success? Here Are The Stats For a Book Bought For 50p & Sold for £1.80
So here are the all important details which will give you the first part of the full story – i.e. some numbers – here is exactly what the mail from Amazon said:
Your Amazon.co.uk order has been confirmed.
This e-mail includes all steps required for dispatching and confirming your order.
Order ID: 203-6121652-7765164
Please dispatch this product using Standard delivery.
Item: Napoleon For Dummies [Paperback] by Markham, J. David
Condition: Used – Good
Listing ID: 0927ITXGL62
Order date: 11/10/2011
Buyer’s price: £1.80
Amazon fees: -£1.66
Your earnings: £2.94
You have agreed to dispatch an item within two business days after the order date on 11/10/2011. Keep in mind that you are responsible for the item until it reaches the buyer at the address provided within your Amazon.co.uk Seller Account.
The mail had more in it with instructions as to where to go in amazon to handle the dispatch etc.
* – the mail actually had my full email address here
Notice the fees Amazon take. I made only 14p profit on the sale of the book!!! They took £1.66 of the £1.80 sale price. That’s over 92% of the sale price!!! And it’s not exactly as if I’d listed it at a rock-bottom price either.
The other thing Amazon do is they have fixed charges for postage which I think are different for different size and categories of book. So I guessed that this is where I might make a bit of money.
I saved money by using my own Jiffy bag and sticking the address on with paper and sellotape rather than using any fancy labels. Then off I went to the post office to find out how much it was going to be to post the Napoleon book.
The postage was £3.05 for first class (delivery estimated for next day) or £2.60 for second class (delivery estimated in 3 days). I paid £2.60 for the second class postage.
All in all I therefore made 34p selling this book. It was in good condition, worth a lot more new (obviously) and even after buying it for just 50p and managing to sell it for £1.80…
Despite success getting what seemed like a good sale (50p->£1.80) I still managed to make an overall loss of 16p!!
I would have made an even greater loss if I’d had to buy a jiffy bag.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Selling Used Books On Amazon To Make Money?
So there you have it. You possibly can make money with this technique, but it’s not going to make you rich. You’re not going to make a big margin on the book sale (and may be making a loss when you consider what you paid or what the book is worth to you) because of the huge fees Amazon take from you and it doesn’t look like you’ll make much margin on the post either. As you can see from above, you’ll be very lucky to make any money at all.
Probably the only way to make money selling used books via Amazon is if you’re selling very rare books or first editions – and that’s if you’re lucky enough to have or find these and you know what you’re looking for.