Should You Sell Books on Amazon or eBay?

should i sell books on amazon or ebay

I’ve been selling books online for more than two years now. In that time, I’ve grossed almost $200,000 in sales (almost entirely from books) and experimented with selling books on both Amazon and eBay.

So, should you sell books on Amazon or eBay? You should sell books on Amazon instead of eBay. Books typically sell for a higher price on Amazon, which means you’ll make more money in the long run. There are typically more book buyers on Amazon, which means your books will sell faster.

The rest of this article will compare Amazon and eBay side-by-side and explain why selling books on Amazon is the smarter and more profitable choice.

  • Your books will sell for more on Amazon
  • Your books will sell faster on Amazon
  • You don’t have to invest as much time listing on Amazon
  • Comparing Amazon fees with eBay fees
  • Selling books on Amazon vs. eBay: real-world examples

Reason #1: Your books will sell for more on Amazon.

Amazon buyers are typically willing to pay more for stuff than eBay buyers are.

This is especially true if you sell your books using Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), which I highly recommend doing. Books that are sold via FBA often sell for anywhere between 50% and 200% more than their non-FBA counterparts.

FBA offers sell at a higher price for a couple of reasons:

  • FBA offers get two-day (or even one-day) Prime shipping, which many buyers are willing to pay a hefty premium for.
  • Amazon gives the Buy Box to FBA offers over Merchant-fulfilled (MF) offers. Many buyers purchase whichever offer holds the Buy Box without even looking at the competing offers ‒ even if that means paying more than they have to.

Reason #2: Your books will sell faster on Amazon.

One of your biggest concerns when selling books online should be how quickly you can sell your inventory. And if you prioritize this concern, you should choose Amazon as your bookselling marketplace.

There are a few reasons your books will sell faster on Amazon:

Reason #3: Amazon gets more web traffic.

Amazon’s global Alexa rank (which ranks websites by number of visitors) is 10, and their U.S. rank is 4.

eBay’s global Alexa rank is 42, and their U.S. rank is 11.

This means Amazon beats out eBay in terms of pure web traffic by a pretty significant amount. There are considerably more people shopping on Amazon than on eBay.

Reason #4: Amazon has a single listing for each product.

When you buy a book on Amazon, you visit a single product page that contains all of the offers from every merchant selling that book on Amazon.

amazon offers page

When you buy a book on eBay, every offer has a separate listing. If you want to compare multiple offers, you have to scroll and click through each individual listing from all the different eBayers selling that book.

ebay offers page

Amazon’s corralling of offers onto a single page means they drive all potential buyers to that single page.

This can work to your benefit and enable you to sell your books extremely quickly ‒ if you can make your offer stand out from the competition.

The best way to make your offer stand out is to use automated repricing software to make sure your offer is the lowest price.

While repricing software exists for both Amazon and eBay, using that software will be more effective on Amazon because all of the offers are clumped together on a single listing page. Using repricing software on eBay will still be helpful, but its effect will be diluted because all of the competing offers are on separate listing pages.

Reason #5: Amazon is known for books.

Amazon started as a bookselling website. It has since grown into the ecommerce behemoth it is today, but it’s been building up its reputation as the place to buy books online from the very beginning.

eBay has no such reputation. It began as an online auction house for secondhand goods, and built its reputation around that concept. Books are obviously one of the many things that are sold on eBay, but eBay doesn’t have the “book website” reputation that Amazon has built up.

The one exception to this is antiquarian books. Antiques of all kinds are typically sold on eBay instead of Amazon, and that holds true for antique books too.

Having a personalized listing for each separate offer actually makes eBay the better choice for these books, as antiquarian book buyers care much more about details unique to a particular offer than buyers of textbooks or novels.

Reason #6: You don’t have to spend as much time listing on Amazon.

One of the biggest caveats with selling on eBay is the time commitment required to list your inventory.

This might not be an issue if you’re just selling a handful of books. But if you’re selling a lot of books, listing your items for sale on eBay is going to eat up an unacceptable amount of your time.

Though both Amazon and eBay offer third-party listing software, eBay’s options are more focused on optimizing listings than on speed. With Amazon-focused listing software, I can process a book every 30 seconds. This time savings adds up immensely when you have to list hundreds (or even thousands) of books to process.

Comparing Amazon fees with eBay fees

To get a thorough understanding of the fee differentiation between Amazon and eBay, there are three types of listings we need to compare:

  • eBay listing
  • Merchant-fulfilled Amazon listing
  • FBA Amazon listing

We’ll use a $20 book sale as the example for this comparison. We’ll also make a few assumptions about the volume of books you’re selling and your Amazon account status:

  • We’ll assume you’re selling less than 50 books per month, which means you would not be subject to eBay’s listing insertion fee.
  • We’ll also assume you’re selling on Amazon using an Individual account, which tacks on a standard charge of $0.99 per sale. If you were to use a Professional account, you would pay a flat $39.99 per month in lieu of the $0.99 per sale charge.
  • We’ll also assume you’re offering the buyer free shipping in all cases. We’ll also assume you’re using the media mail shipment option, which typically costs $2.75 per book.
  • We’ll also assume the bubble mailer you use to ship the book in costs $.10.

$20 book sale on eBay

    • $20 sale price
    • Cost of book = $1
    • 12% eBay final value fee = $2.40
    • 2.9% + $0.30 Paypal fee = $0.88
    • Media mail shipping fee = $2.75
    • Bubble mailer = $.10
    • Net profit: $12.87

$20 book sale on Amazon (Merchant-Fulfilled)

    • $20 sale price
    • Cost of book = $1
    • Per-sale fee = $0.99
    • Amazon referral fee = $3.00
    • Amazon variable closing fee = $1.80
    • Media mail shipping fee = $2.75
    • Bubble mailer = $.10
    • Net profit: $10.36

$20 book sale on Amazon (Fulfilled By Amazon)

    • $20 sale price
    • Cost of book = $1
    • Per-sale fee = $0.99
    • Amazon referral fee = $3.00
    • Amazon variable closing fee = $1.80
    • Fulfillment by Amazon fee = $4.78
    • Net profit: $8.

While eBay is the clear winner in this fee comparison, I would caution you against choosing eBay based on this. When I say books sell for more on Amazon, I’m talking a lot more. To get a sense of how much more, let’s check out a real-world example from my own Amazon store.

A real-world example from my Amazon store

We’re going to compare an actual sale from my own Amazon store with a recent sale of the same book on eBay to see how the relationship between fees and net profit actually plays out.

I recently sold this used book about data science for $24.79 using Amazon’s fulfillment program.

Data Science Sale

I bought this book for $1. Using Amazon’s fee calculator, we can see that my net profit on Amazon from this sale was $13.79 after fees.

data science net profit

Now let’s compare this with eBay.

A quick search of the eBay completed listings shows a used copy of this data science book sold for $16.16 with free shipping

data science ebay sale

The seller listed this book with standard shipping, which typically comes in the form of USPS First Class shipping for smaller books like this. To see how much this would cost, I made a draft listing for this book on eBay, and the shipping cost came out to $5.19:

data science ebay shipping

If I had sold this book on eBay, I would only have made $7.23. But because I sold it on Amazon, I made $13.29.

And even if I had used the $2.75 media mail option instead of the $5.19 first class option, my net profit would still have only been $9.67.

Because I sold this book on Amazon using their FBA fulfillment service, I was able to make almost double what I would have made had I sold the book on eBay.

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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