How to Sell Textbooks on Amazon in 2024

With more than 200 million Amazon Prime members worldwide and books being in the top 5 of the most popular categories, selling books on Amazon can be a very lucrative business. So whether you want to turn this into a steady source of income or you’re just a student decluttering your old textbooks, the easiest place to sell them is on Amazon.

Does Amazon Allow You to Sell Textbooks as a Third-Party Seller?

Yes. Nowadays, there are over 2 million third-party sellers on Amazon, including textbook resellers.

If you’ve finished your courses or school year, you might have a lot of textbooks lying around and need to declutter. You can list them on Amazon, given that they’re still in acceptable condition.

sell used textbooks
As long as you have the requirements to sign up as an Amazon seller, you can sell your used textbooks on Amazon after the end of each semester.

Some textbooks get updated fairly regularly, and teachers might be particular about the book’s edition, but a lot of textbooks remain relevant even years after their publication, so a lot of students may still be after the older versions. 

What Kinds of Textbooks Can You Sell on Amazon?

You can sell either brand-new or used books on Amazon, as long as they do not contain illegal, infringing, or offensive content. They should follow Amazon’s Content Guidelines for Books. You can even sell e-books, but for this article, we’ll be focusing on selling physical textbooks.

If it’s new, the textbook must be in its original perfect condition, without bents, dents, writings, highlightings, scratches, torn pages, broken spines, and any other form of wear and tear. When you’re reselling used books, they may fall into any of these condition categories:

  • Like New – minor defects and dust cover intact; without highlights and notes
  • Very Good – minor defects; may lack dust cover and set cases; a few remainder marks
  • Good – a few highlighting and notes; may lack dust cover, shrink wrap, and set cases; cover and pages intact
  • Acceptable – may lack dust cover, shrink wrap, and set cases; cover and pages intact; a few highlighting and notes; slight water damage; readable text

As much as possible, your items should at least be in a “Good” condition, but don’t worry; some flaws are still acceptable. Take note that textbooks may be updated from time to time, rendering older versions obsolete as a result. You should be mindful of this when you’re selecting a product listing.

Textbooks also come in different editions. You can sell the following editions on Amazon:

Textbook Editions Characteristics
International Editions Have an “ISE” or “International Edition” printed on the spines appearing on the textbook’s page title
US Editions Similar to international editions but specifically for US students
Complimentary, Free Copy, or Sample Textbooks Typically comes with markings “Not for Sale,” “Instructor’s Edition,” “Free Copy,” or “Complimentary Copy” and automatically categorized as “used” even if it is new
Annotated Instructor’s Editions Usually labeled with “Annotated Instructor's Edition” or “AIE” and consist of instructor answers or notes
Eastern Economy, Indian, or Low Price Editions Not accepted for buyback options

Step-by-Step Process for Selling Textbooks on Amazon

Selling textbooks, whether for declutter or Amazon arbitrage business, proves to be profitable as they remain in high demand and don’t cost big for a small start. Generally, it follows a similar process as selling other types of books on Amazon and starts by listing your textbooks on Amazon.

Create an Amazon Seller Account

You can choose from two options—individual selling plan and professional selling plan. They differ mainly on fees and benefits. See below:

Individual Selling Plan Professional Selling Plan
Access to basic listing and order management tools Access to advanced selling and inventory tools
Create one listing at a time and pay $0.99 per unit sold Unlimited listings paid in a $39.99 monthly subscription fee
Only pays when an item is sold Upfront  fees upon choosing the plan
  Best for merchants selling more than 40 units

Use Amazon’s cost calculator to work out your margin of sales for each unit once you have chosen your plan. To start selling, you need to create an Amazon seller account first. The process is pretty much straightforward. Just get the following documents ready:

  • Business email address (You can also use your Amazon customer account, but it’s not recommended.)
  • Internationally chargeable credit card
  • Government ID
  • Tax information
  • Phone number
  • A bank account where Amazon can send you proceeds from your sales

Choose Your Fulfillment Option

You can choose to fulfill your orders or ask Amazon to do it for you. Of course, the latter comes with additional fees. Fulfillment by Merchant or FBM is a good option for those who have only a few products to sell, while FBA is for those who want to build a stable flow of income from selling textbooks on Amazon.

Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Merchants fulfill the storage, packing, customer service, and shipping independently Amazon fulfills the storage, packing, shipping, customer service, and returns
No Amazon service fee Automatic Prime membership
Pays $0.99 for every unit sold Pays $39.99 per month
For smaller-scale textbook sellers For high-volume textbook sellers

Decide on the Price

The price of your textbooks will depend on their condition, whether they are like new, very good, good, or acceptable. Refer to the categories above. Compare your price with those of other sellers for reference.

It’s a good practice to rate your textbook’s condition in a lower tier than it really is to avoid negative feedback from customers. It’s better to set their expectations accordingly and have them pleasantly surprised than disappointed.

List Your Textbooks

Amazon follows a one-listing-per-product rule. This means that if somebody else is already selling the same textbook as you, you can’t create a separate listing. Instead, you should add your items to these existing listings

Pack and Ship Your Books

After listing your textbook, wait for a customer to place an order. Again, if you’re an FBA seller, you don’t need to fulfill the orders yourself. Amazon will do it for you.

Do You Need Permission From Authors or Publishers for the Resale?

You don’t. Intellectual property rights only apply to the publication of copyrighted books, but they are not required when you are simply reselling them. Having an ISBN means the book is supposed to be listed for sale, and in general, it does not matter who sells it—whether it’s the author, the publisher, or a reseller.

Liezel Comendador

Liezel Comendador goes by her motto, “I cannot not write.” If not taxes, eCommerce, and any other niche, she writes about her nomadic travels, peculiar people and experiences encountered along the way, and for some time, ponder metaphors, both petty and deep. She is a philomath who believes learning is better done when one starts as a nobody, ego and judgment aside, as everything and everyone can be teachers in this fleeting life.

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