Amazon Prices Give Clues
To Profitable Online Book Selling

By Joe Waynick

Amazon prices tend to trend low for the more common used books. But lately I’ve been pushing the envelope on profit maximization when pricing my books and selling them online.

I really wanted to increase the yield from each shipment I received so I altered my listing software to alert me when I scan Amazon books that don’t meet my standard listing criteria, but still show promise of making a profitable sale.

For example, I pulled a paperback copy of “Catechism of the Catholic Church” from a Gaylord and a quick scan showed the lowest listed price by another Amazon book seller was $0.57 online.

What To Do With Penny Books

In the old days, I would have simply tossed this 960 page, three pound tomb in the pulp bin and sold it for scrap to a recycler if Amazon prices didn't meet my stringent criteria.

But I decided to dig a little deeper.

Thanks to a recent software change to my listing program, a single click took me to Amazon’s catalog page and I found it had a sales rank under 100k with 202 used and 33 new copies sporting prices ranging from $0.57 to $12.00 on the first page of the catalog.

Free yourself from the dogma that you have to be the low price leader to make money selling books online.

Rather than toss the book on the scrap heap, I listed it for $8.00 and sold it in less than three weeks! Since I paid less than $0.50 for the book, I made a very nice profit on the sale.

I checked the Amazon catalog page again today and saw that prices had deteriorated to $0.46 to $3.00 on the first page of the catalog. So my book actually sold off of the second page.

My New Strategy

Consequently, I adjusted my listing system to identify books with Amazon prices above my minimum threshold that can be listed on the first page of their catalog, regardless of the lowest selling price in the same or better condition.

Effectively, this has doubled my merchant fulfilled listings and substantially reduced my COGS per book based on load yield.

If I take this pricing strategy to the second page of the catalog, I imagine I could increase my load yield another 33% - 50%, maybe more. I’ll have to test.

Make More Profitable Sales

When is a penny book not a penny book? When you learn to ignore the low ball sellers and recognize the true value of your inventory.

One way to do that is to look for books that have decent Amazon prices on the first page of the catalog. Just what are “decent prices?”

As a general rule, you want to earn four times your COGS to be solidly profitable.

But in most cases, you don’t want to sell books for less than $5 regardless of how little you pay for them.

You should also experiment with pricing some of your more unusual books off of the second page of Amazon’s catalog.

The idea here is to stay away from the low price leaders. Yes, they’ll get the next sale, but if you’re patient, your book will sell too. And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re making more money.

Change Your Mindset

The moral of this story is don’t get locked into a mindset of always having to capture the very next sale. Learn how to sell on Amazon the most profitable way possible.

Sure, when your Amazon prices are higher, sales slow down, but you’re not working for pennies either. And in my opinion, that is the best way to sell books on Amazon.

Use the extra free time to dig up more profitable books either from your existing potential or by doing more scouting.

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What Other Visitors Have Said . . .

Click below to see what other visitors have said about this article.

Very cool! What else do you sell? How do you ship? Not rated yet
Original Comment: August 5, 2013 Very inspiring. I have three questions for you if you wouldn’t mind assisting me: 1. How do you deal with …

Joe, this is a great article I'm so glad I bought your book! Joanne Not rated yet
Original Comment: June 17, 2013 I have read so many articles on online bookselling. I've made profits but in my area there are so many sellers …

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