How To Sell Textbooks On Amazon | The Complete Guide

How To Sell Textbooks On Amazon

Selling textbooks on Amazon can be highly profitable, as Amazon is the biggest bookseller in the world.

If buying new textbooks from publishers or distributors is beyond your budget, you can also sell used textbooks on the platform.

Selling used is an excellent way to get started in ecommerce with low upfront costs and you can run this side hustle from home while working full time.

In this post, I’ll explain how to sell textbooks on Amazon along with best practices and tips to help you succeed.

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How To List Textbooks On Amazon

Textbooks in a library

The process of listing textbooks on Amazon requires you to sign up for an Amazon seller account, create a listing on Amazon and specify the textbook’s condition.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to list textbooks on Amazon.

Step 1: Sign Up As An Amazon Seller

Amazon logo

The first step is to register for an individual or a professional seller plan to list a textbook on Amazon.

Individual plans don’t have a monthly fee but a $0.99 fee per item sold plus a 15% commission on the sale price.

Professional plans cost $39.99 per month but offer benefits like advertising, bulk listings, and access to detailed reports. Plus, Amazon waives the $0.99 per item fee for professional sellers.

You can start as an individual seller and upgrade to a professional account once you have over 40 sales per month.

You’ll need the following documents to register as a seller on Amazon:

  • A business email address. Use a separate email from your Amazon customer account to keep business communications organized.
  • A valid government ID for identity verification.
  • An internationally chargeable credit card.
  • Your tax identification number for financial reporting.
  • A contact phone number.
  • A bank account where Amazon will deposit your sales proceeds.

Step 2: Choose A Fulfillment Method

Amazon Prime van

There are three fulfillment methods to choose from: Fulfillment by Amazon, Fulfillment by Merchant, and Seller Fulfilled Prime.

  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): Amazon handles storage, packaging, shipment, customer service, and returns for you. You pay a fee for this, but your products qualify for Prime, which can significantly increase sales as buyers prefer products with Prime shipping.
  • Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) or Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN): You manage storage, shipping, returns, refunds, and customer service. While you save on FBA fees (which can be around 20% to 30% of your sales), your products won’t automatically qualify for Prime benefits. Your listings won’t have a “Prime” or “FREE Delivery” badge, which could affect their visibility and appeal to Prime members.
  • Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP): This allows you to fulfill orders yourself and still get Prime benefits. However, getting into SFP is challenging due to its waitlist and strict performance requirements. There’s no guarantee you’ll be accepted into the program.

Step 3: Create A Textbook Listing

Amazon textbooks catalog page

Follow these steps to list your textbooks on Amazon:

  • Log in to your Seller Central account and go to “Inventory.”
  • Click on “Add a Product.”
  • Search for the book by entering its name, ISBN, UPC, or ASIN in the search box. Books published after 1967 have an ISBN on the back. You can find a product’s ASIN in its URL and the “Product Details” section. If the textbook isn’t already listed on Amazon, click “I’m adding a product not sold on Amazon” and fill in the product details.
  • Describe the textbook’s condition (New or Used) using the dropdown menu.
  • Click “Sell this product.”
  • Enter the “Standard Price” and specify the “Condition.”
  • Choose your fulfillment method.
  • Click “Save and Finish,” then “Save & Continue.”

If you’re using Amazon FBA to fulfill orders, you’ll need to create a shipment. Refer to my guide on creating an FBA shipping plan to learn how to handle multiple items or decide between SPD and LTL shipping methods.

After your listing is live, you can use Amazon’s advertising tools to promote your textbooks and increase sales.

What Type Of Textbooks Can You Sell On Amazon?

how to list books on amazon

You can sell both brand-new and used textbooks on Amazon.

New textbooks must be in perfect original condition without any bends, broken spines, dents, highlights, scratches, torn pages, writings, or any other signs of wear and tear.

For used textbooks, they should fit into one of the following condition categories:

  • Like New or Open Box: Only minor cosmetic defects, such as cuts and bends. The dust cover is intact; there are no highlights or notes on the pages.
  • Very Good: Some minor defects; the book might be missing the dust cover and set cases; it could have a few remainder marks.
  • Good: Pages have some highlighting and notes. The dust cover, shrink wrap, and set cases might be missing, but the cover and pages must be intact. Books may also include labels like “From the library of.”
  • Acceptable: Missing dust cover, shrink wrap, and set cases are fine. The cover and pages should be intact, with some highlighting and notes. Slight water damage is allowed as long as the text is readable.

Textbooks also come in various editions, and Amazon allows the selling of:

  • Standard Academic Editions
  • US Editions
  • International Editions that have “International Edition” printed on the spines of the textbook.
  • Annotated Instructor’s Editions, only if they are legal for resale. These textbooks are typically labeled “Annotated Instructor’s Edition.”
  • Custom Editions made for specific universities or courses, provided they are legal for resale.

Tip: While some wear and tear are acceptable, try to ensure your textbooks are at least in “Good” condition. Remember, textbooks often get updated, which can make older versions less desirable. Keep this in mind when listing your textbooks.

What Type Of Textbooks Can You Not Sell On Amazon?

cartoon image holding up a stop sign

Amazon prohibits selling textbooks that have illegal, offensive, and copyrighted content. Amazon enforces its policies strictly and will restrict listings that violate these guidelines.

Amazon also doesn’t allow the sale of:

  • Promotional Instructor’s Editions: These are typically promotional textbooks that have markings like “Free Copy,” “Complimentary Copy” or “Not for Sale.” They are identical to the student edition except for these markings.
  • Teacher’s Editions and Annotated Instructor’s Editions: Targeted at the teaching community, these editions are not intended for public sale unless specified by the publisher for self-teaching or homeschooling.
  • Solutions Manuals: Solutions Manuals are designed as supplements to textbooks and provide answers and explanations for problems related to the textbook. Only those intended for student use and public sale are allowed to be listed on Amazon.

Sometimes, you may find that some of your textbooks are ineligible for sale. Even though textbooks fall under an ungated category, Amazon may require you to get approval before you can list certain textbooks.

Even if your textbook listing is approved, Amazon reserves the right to deactivate your listing at any time.

This can happen when textbook publishers take legal action against Amazon for allowing the sale of counterfeit books at lower prices.

For example, in 2017, textbook publishers Cengage, Pearson, and McGraw-Hill sued Amazon, which led to Amazon imposing restrictions on third-party sellers selling textbooks from these publishers altogether regardless of authenticity.

Amazon also limits the sale of high-demand textbooks to prevent the sale of counterfeit copies.

To apply for approval to sell a restricted textbook, you should:

  • Log in to your Seller Central account.
  • Select “Add A Product” from the “Inventory” dropdown menu.
  • Search for the item you wish to sell.
  • Click on “Show Limitations” to view any restrictions.
  • Click “Apply to sell” to request approval.

Amazon will review your Seller Rating, sales volume, and how long you’ve been a seller to determine if you can sell in “restricted” categories.

Tip: Always check Amazon’s Content Guidelines for Books before listing a product to ensure compliance and avoid potential listing restrictions.

Where Can You Find Textbooks To Sell On Amazon?

Tracking with Binoculars

The best places to find textbooks to sell or resell on Amazon include book sales, discount websites, wholesale shops, liquidation pallets, Facebook Marketplace and EBay.

  • Online arbitrage: Find websites like Bulk Bookstore and Bulk Books that sell textbooks at low prices. This method requires research to identify the right books with higher selling prices on Amazon.
  • Wholesalers: Buy textbooks in bulk from wholesalers who acquire large volumes directly from publishers. Purchasing in bulk typically means lower prices per book, but use a textbook scanner app to ensure you’re buying books that have a good resale value on Amazon.
  • Liquidation pallets: Consider buying Amazon return pallets from liquidation stores like BlueLots and BULQ. These pallets, sold at significantly reduced prices, contain various products, including textbooks. You can bid on these pallets online or buy them directly, but be prepared for a mix of book conditions and editions.
  • Facebook Marketplace and Ebay: Many people, including parents looking to clear out space, sell textbooks at low prices on Facebook Marketplace.
  • Publishers and distributors: Directly purchasing from publishers or distributors guarantees new textbooks. While buying from distributors is expensive, direct purchases from publishers, when possible, could offer competitive prices for new books.

Tips For Selling Textbooks On Amazon

Tips for selling textbooks on Amazon

Check The Best Sellers Rank

An Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR) is a number that shows how well a product is selling relative to other products in Amazon’s vast catalog.

The lower the product’s BSR, the better the product is selling. You can check the BSR of a textbook in the “Product Details” section of its Amazon listing.

Best Sellers Rank of a textbook on Amazon

The sales performance according to BSR ranges are as follows:

  • BSR 1000 to 2000: High demand, selling 80 to 150 copies a day.
  • BSR 2000 to 5000: Quick sales, 40 to 80 copies a day, usually at competitive prices.
  • BSR 5000 to 8000: Solid sales, 30 to 35 copies a day.
  • BSR 8000 to 12,000: Good sales, 20 to 30 copies a day.
  • BSR 12,000 to 30,000: Moderate success, selling about 5 to 10 copies a day.
  • BSR 30,000 to 400,000: Regular sales, one to two copies a day, less competition.
  • BSR 400,000 and above: Low demand, possibly going weeks without sales or only selling a few copies a month.

Remember, daily sales numbers can fluctuate based on how many textbooks are listed in a particular category.

Be Honest About The Condition Of The Textbooks

Always describe the condition accurately to avoid disappointing your customers and receiving negative reviews.

If you think the textbook is “Used – Like New,” list it as “Used – Very Good” instead. This way, you exceed customer expectations and likely get better feedback.

Optimize Your Textbook Listing

Use the right keywords in your book title, subtitle, and description to let buyers and Amazon’s algorithm know what your textbook offers.

Highlight any accolades, the edition of the textbook, and other key selling points. Plus, use Amazon content creation and management tool A+ Content to customize product detail pages.

Bundle Related Textbooks

If you have multiple textbooks on the same subject, bundle them together and sell them as a “Virtual Bundle” on Amazon.

This way, students looking for a complete set of materials for their class can find what they need in one place.

With Virtual Bundle, you don’t have to package the FBA books together physically. Amazon will send them all in one order when someone buys your bundle.

This approach not only increases the value of your offer but also can boost your sales by catering to specific buyer needs.

Is Selling Textbooks On Amazon Worth It?

A hand balancing books

Selling textbooks on Amazon, especially used ones, is 100% worth it because it offers a solid entry point into ecommerce without a heavy investment.

However, you can’t create a brand by selling used textbooks on Amazon. Also, Amazon has a selling fee of 15% for textbooks, plus an additional 10% if using FBA. So you’ll need to make sure you’re making a margin of at least 30% on your books.

What you can do is look into selling other used items on Amazon if you’re on a budget. Alternatively, if you’re a writer, you can self-publish ebooks on Amazon’s ebook publishing platform, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

You can earn up to a 70% sales royalty, depending on the ebook’s sales volume and the country.

FAQs On Selling Textbooks On Amazon

Does Amazon Still Buy Back Textbooks?

No, Amazon closed their Amazon textbook buyback program in 2020 after running it successfully for nine years. This program allowed students to sell their old textbooks back to Amazon in exchange for an Amazon gift card, which they could then use to purchase new textbooks for the upcoming semester.

How Much Does It Cost To Sell Textbooks On Amazon?

Amazon charges a 15% referral fee from your book’s sale price. For example, if you sell a book for $10, Amazon’s fee will be $1.50. If you use Amazon FBA to ship your book, expect to pay an additional 10% of the selling price.

What Other Sites Allow Selling Used Textbooks Like Amazon?

You can sell used textbooks on several platforms besides Amazon, including Decluttr, AbeBooks, Cash4Books, Chegg, eBay, BooksRun, and ValoreBooks.

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About Steve Chou

Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at

His blog,, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times,  Entrepreneur and MSNBC.  

He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.

In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts

To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store,, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.  

Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.