Why Aren’t My Books Selling on Amazon?

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So you’ve listed your books on Amazon, set your prices, and… nothing is happening.

A couple are selling here and there, but for the most part your books are just sitting there, not selling.

Your books aren’t selling on Amazon because of one (or more) of these issues:

  • The sales ranks of your books are too high
  • Your prices aren’t competitive
  • You don’t have much positive feedback

The sales ranks of your books are too high

The most common problem I see when books aren’t selling is that the books you’re trying to sell don’t have good sales ranks. They aren’t in demand.

Amazon assigns a sales rank to each one of their books. This number can range from 1 to over 20,000,000, and it’s representative of how often the book is selling. A book with a sales rank of 1 is selling thousands of copies per day, and book with a sales rank of 1,000,000 is selling about once every ten days. If you’d like a thorough overview of book sales ranks and how they work, I recommend reading this sales rank guide from FBAMastery.com.

You can find a book’s sales rank in a few places. One is in the Product details section of the book’s Amazon listing page.

Current Sales Rank

My preferred method of checking a book’s sales rank is using Keepa. I prefer using Keepa because it tells me the average sales rank instead of the current sales rank, which is a much more accurate representation of a book’s demand. It also shows me the sales rank graph, which can tell me if a book is a textbook or has some other seasonality affecting its demand.

Keepa sales rank

Note: Accessing Keepa’s sales rank data costs about $17 per month. I consider it an essential resource though, so I would recommend it to anyone trying to make any kind of significant money from their Amazon bookstore.

You need to look at the average sales rank because a book’s current sales rank could be artificially low due to a recent sale. If a book typically sells once per year, but that sale came yesterday, the sales rank is going to be about 200,000 (which might make you think the book actually sells multiple times per week). But if you check that book’s average sales rank, it’s going to reveal that the book’s real demand is actually extremely low.

So back to the point of this article — how do you use this information to make your books sell?

Well, if a book’s sales rank is pretty high (1,200,000+), there’s not much you can do other than wait it out. There’s no magic bullet that will make more people want to buy a certain book. If you’re stuck with a disproportionately large amount of inventory with high sales ranks, my best advice is to be more selective when sourcing in the future.

The best way to slim down the number of low-demand books you buy is to use a scanning app that shows you the average sales rank. This is one of the main reasons why I recommend using FBAScan over ScoutIQ as your FBA scanning app. It shows you the average sales rank for every item you scan (in addition to the current sales rank).

FBAScan/Scoutly shows average sales rank

So if you’re not currently using FBAScan, I recommend reading that article and making a switch. You’ll be able to make more informed purchase decisions and buy more books that will actually sell in a reasonable amount of time.

Your prices aren’t competitive  

After ensuring your books have decent sales ranks, having the lowest price is the most effective thing you can do to increase your chances of selling them.

If your books aren’t the lowest price, or at least tied for the lowest price, there’s a pretty good chance the next buyer isn’t purchasing your copy.

And it makes sense: who wants to pay more for something they could get for less? Not me, that’s for damn sure.

The other factor in which price plays a role is the Buy Box. Amazon typically gives the Buy Box to whoever has the lowest-priced offer. As over 80% of buyers make their purchase from the Buy Box, you need to be doing all you can to grab the Buy Box for yourself.

How to keep your prices competitive

There’s a pretty straightforward way to keep your prices competitive: reprice them regularly.

2023 Update: To keep your books competitively priced, use the NeuroPrice repricing software. It doesn’t have the FBA blindspot problem that other repricers have, and you’ll save more money on books that other repricers will price too low. 

Other booksellers are constantly changing their prices to match or undercut the lowest offers on their listings. You need to join them if you want to actually stand a chance of selling your inventory and turning your bookstore into a profitable venture.

There are two repricing strategies you can use to keep your offers competitive. One is to reprice manually, and the other is to reprice with automated repricing software.

At first glance, automated repricing software sounds like the obvious choice. Why not leave something as repetitive and numbers-based to a computer?

It’s a bit more complicated than that though. Amazon only allows third-party software to see the lowest 20 offers on any given item. If the lowest-priced FBA offers are priced higher than the lowest 20 merchant-fulfilled offers, your repricing software won’t be able to see them. And if your repricing software can’t see the FBA offers, it can’t reprice your offer.

As a result, I believe the best repricing strategy lies in a happy middle ground between using repricing software and repricing your items manually.

If you’d like more information on repricing manually and repricing with software, read this article:

You don’t have much positive feedback

Customers will only buy from you if they trust you. They want to feel comfortable that they won’t get an item in poor condition, and they want to make sure they get that item on time.

Now, the mere fact that you’re selling on Amazon gives you a considerable amount of initial trustworthiness.

Your feedback score is a major part of how potential customers perceive your trustworthiness. If you’ve got a low rating, or if you’ve just started and are lacking any kind of feedback score whatsoever, that could be contributing to your lack of sales.

If you think your feedback is an issue, there are a few ways you can boost your positive feedback. I’ve already written about this at length, so I won’t needlessly repeat myself here. If you’d like more information on maintaining a high Amazon feedback rating, read these articles:

Related Questions

How can I improve my book sourcing technique and find less duds?

Sourcing books, like every other activity in this world, is a skill. You’ll get better at it over time, and in doing so you’ll make more money each time you go out sourcing. So my primary piece of advice is to stay persistent and keep learning. If you’d like some more specific information, read my definitive guide on sourcing books.

How fast should my books be selling?

This all depends on the sales rank of each book and how effective and persistent you are with repricing. That being said, I typically try to sell 2/3 of my inventory within 6 months of listing it. This might be too slow for you, so I recommend experimenting and finding a balance that works for your business model and lifestyle.

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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