7 Reasons You Should Start an Online Bookstore Using Amazon FBA

Why start an Amazon FBA Bookstore

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When I tell people I sell books using Amazon’s fulfillment service, their first question is invariably the same: “Why?”

It’s a good question.

Here are some of the answers:

  • ZERO experience required
  • Extremely low startup cost
  • Ridiculous profit margins
  • Incredibly flexible schedule
  • Much of the business can be automated
  • Hard work = more money
  • It’s an excellent side hustle

Reason #1: ZERO experience required

You don’t need a background in ecommerce or business to start doing this. It’s really simple.

Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

  1. Drive to book sales/thrift stores/estate sales/libraries/other book sources.
  2. Scan for valuable books using an app on your phone.
  3. Buy the books and send them to Amazon, who will store them until they sell.
  4. When the books sell, Amazon will ship them to the buyers.
  5. Amazon will deposit the profits into your bank account.

This wasn’t possible 20 years ago. If you wanted to sell books in the past, you had to have a bunch of hard-to-come-by stuff:

  • an intimate knowledge of the book market
  • a huge warehouse to store your books in
  • a team of people to process orders

Now you don’t need any of that.

If you have a smartphone with a book scanning app, your knowledge of the book market instantly surpasses that of the smartest old-school bookseller. You can gain access to years of product demand and price history just by scanning a book’s barcode into your phone.

And if you use Amazon’s fulfillment service, you gain instant access to a colossal warehouse system and an enormous team of people dedicated to fulfilling your orders. 

These technological and logistical breakthroughs have opened the lucrative world of bookselling to just about anybody including you. 

Reason #2: Extremely low startup cost

When I say “extremely,” I mean it. The minimum you’d need to get going in this business is about $100.

  • $30 for a cell phone
  • $30 for a 1-month subscription to an FBA scanning app
  • $20 for initial inventory
  • $5 for a sheet of barcode labels
  • $5 for shipping tape
  • $5 to ship your books to an Amazon fulfillment center
  • $1.50 for a small moving box from Home Depot
  • $1 to print your labels at a library (if you don’t have a printer)

Note: This is a rather extreme example, and you should know that investing a few hundred extra at the start will make your life much easier. I just want to drive home how low the barrier to entry is in FBA bookselling.

You don’t need to place a down payment on a storefront or invest thousands in inventory to get started…

…you just need a phone and some office supplies.

The low startup cost also means there’s ZERO risk in trying this business out.

If you sell books for a month and decide it isn’t for you, it’s no big deal.

You didn’t sign any leases or contracts.

You don’t have to liquidate thousands of dollars worth of inventory.

You can just drop it and move on with your life.

Reason #3: Ridiculous profit margins

You can buy books for $1 and sell them for $400+, which nets you a little over $300 after Amazon takes their cut.

This isn’t a typo or a joke… check these real-world examples from Gregg, an Amazon seller who goes by the handle @fbabookthief on Instagram:

$436 book
$436 sale
$423 sale

Books that sell for $400 are pretty rare, I admit. I’ve only had one $400+ sale myself.

But if you go to book sales and thrift stores, you will routinely find $1 books that sell for $20 to $100 on Amazon.

Ask any Amazon bookseller ‒ It’s laughable how common these kinds of profits are, and they’re the primary reason so many of us do this full-time. 

Reason #4: Flexible schedule

Starting an Amazon FBA bookstore lets you plan your work around your life. It gives you the freedom to spend time with your loved ones.

That’s a benefit that can’t be quantified.

The notable exception to this flexibility is book sales, which is where you’ll make the majority of your money. Unfortunately, you do need to be present at the beginning of a book sale if you want to make decent money.

But if you skip a book sale here or there, it’s not the end of the world.

No one is going to fire you and remove your source of income.

You can just hit the next one. 

The true flexibility comes with the rest of the business…

  • you can process when you want
  • you can tweak prices when you want
  • you can source online when you want
  • you can go to thrift stores when you want (if the store is open, obviously)
  • the list goes on and on… 

With this business, the work gets done on your time… not the other way around.

2023 Update: New Sourcing Method (Online Book Arbitrage)

If driving around to thrift stores and book sales doesn’t sound like your thing, there is another way to source thousands of profitable books…  a method you can use without leaving your your home.

It’s called online book arbitrage, and as of 2023, it’s the future of Amazon bookselling.

In a nutshell, this method allows you to buy books from Amazon and sell them back on Amazon for a huge profit.

I’ve used this method myself to make a ton of money from my computer – here’s a small selection of some of the profitable flips I’ve made:

Book NameBuy PriceSell PriceDays until SaleNet Profit
Contract Law Fundamentals (6 copies)$5.79$79.9916 days $314.46
Urban Economics$25.56$123.3924 days$70.45
Understanding Post-Tonal Music$31.89$144.3152 days$66.03
Finite Mathematics$43.99$138.4119 days$63.79
Student Activities Manual $19.94$94.9918 days$51.71
Cognitive Psychology and Instruction $39.18$110.0543 days$46.72
Introduction to Learning and Behavior$14.39$111.0060 days$72.32
Research Methods in Education$51.79$124.0030 days$45.45
Major Problems in the Early Republic$17.55$82.5654 days$45.00
Microsoft Office 2016: A Skills Approach$25.63$88.6168 days$41.00
Foundations of Earth Science$19.27$90.0053 days$48.70
Government by the People$11.03$75.0045 days$44.54
Writing in the Health Professions$29.10$93.9934 days$43.18
Human Behavior and the Social Environment$21.44$74.4958 days$34.25
Educational Psychology$26.29$139.9955 days$84.14
Managing Classroom Behaviors$28.09$74.9539 days$30.29
Introduction to Developmental Psychology$10.80$52.9942 days$25.64
Chemistry: A Guided Inquiry$12.70$49.9511 days$21.40
Play, Development and Early Education$28.76$95.0026 days$44.35

If you’re interested in making these kinds of profits without having to drive around to thrift stores and bring books back to your house, this is a method you have to try. 

Reason #5: You can automate much of the business

There are a lot of moving parts in a successful Amazon FBA business. Trying to manually handle all of them yourself would drive you insane. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to.

Most of the complex stuff can be completely automated with affordable software.

It’s a “set it and forget it” business in the truest form of the phrase.

Once your items are in Amazon’s fulfillment center, you won’t have to think about them ever again.

Amazon and your software workhorses will make sure of that.

To drive my point home, here’s a list of essential business tasks you won’t have to worry about:

  • Order fulfillment (Amazon handles this)
  • Authorizing and receiving returns (Amazon handles this)
  • Repricing inventory (Repricing software handles this)
  • Feedback outreach (Feedback automation software handles this)
  • Calculating sales taxes (Tax automation software handles this)
  • Sourcing inventory online (Arbitrage software makes this a very easy process)
  • Processing inventory purchased online (An FBA prep center will automate this for you)
  • Delivering products to customers (Shipping companies like UPS handle this)
  • Making sure the customer pays (Amazon handles this)
  • Determining book value (Your FBA scanner app handles this)
  • Purchasing supplies (You can buy everything on Amazon and get it shipped to your door)

So, if all that stuff is taken care of… what do you have to worry about?

  • Sourcing inventory locally (this is where most of the hard work comes in)
  • Listing your inventory on Amazon (listing software makes this a breeze though)
  • Sending your inventory to Amazon (UPS makes this easy, as they’ll drive to your house and pick up your inventory shipment)
  • Responding to customer messages (I rarely get messages, and they only take a few minutes to deal with anyway)

You don’t have to worry about any of the complicated logistics.

All you have to do is find valuable books and send them to Amazon. 

Reason #6: It’s an excellent side hustle

The flexible nature of the business makes it a perfect supplement to your current source of income.

You can hit book sales or thrift stores before/after work and send your finds to Amazon over the weekend.

It integrates pretty seamlessly into your current schedule, and treasure hunting for books is honestly a refreshing break from the stationary office drudgery so many of us are used to.

This approach also allows you to gradually grow your business until you’re making enough that you can quit your job and start selling on Amazon full-time.

The best side hustles are the ones that can eventually replace your main hustle, and this definitely qualifies.

Reason #7: Hard work actually pays off

I was talking to my friend the other day.

He’s an accountant at a Big 4 firm, and his current client is a major Fortune 500 corporation.

He told me that he’d been working 3 months straight without a day off.

I asked him if he got paid more for all that extra work…

…and he started laughing, as if that was a ridiculous question to ask.

I don’t think it’s a ridiculous question.

I think the right kind of work is the kind that pays you more as you put more effort into it.

Selling books on Amazon falls into that “right kind of work” category.

Unlike salaried or hourly positions, your income is almost entirely dependent on the amount of work you put in.

This makes selling books on Amazon an excellent business for hard workers who don’t currently see additional return for their additional effort (which is most people, to be honest).

Final thoughts

To recap, here’s why starting an Amazon FBA bookselling business is a great idea:

  • ZERO experience required
  • Extremely low startup cost
  • Ridiculous profit margins
  • Incredibly flexible schedule
  • Much of the business can be automated
  • Hard work = more money
  • It’s an excellent side hustle

Steve Rajeckas

Hi! I'm Steve. I've been selling books using Amazon's fulfillment service for more than two years. I love learning new things about the online bookselling world, and I hope my tips help you build and expand your own bookselling business.

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