This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links. All opinions are my own.
We shipped our first books to Amazon in April, 2017 and made our first sale the day our first listing posted. In this post, I am going to discuss profits, expenses, advantages and pitfalls of being an Amazon FBA bookseller during our first 6 months.
How much money we made as an Amazon FBA bookseller
I’m starting with this first, because I’m sure this is what everyone wants to know the most! According to our reports, we sold 380 books between April and October for a total of $7,303.46 in sales. This is an average sale price of $19.22 per sale.
June was our best month, which is about what I thought based on other Amazon FBA booksellers. They say that it takes about 3 months to recoup your initial investment and turn a profit if you work steadily on it. In June, we sold 81 books and our total for sales was $1736.03.
After this, we hit a slump. Which is not surprising because since mid-May we have not consistently been able to buy books to send to Amazon. Ryan was out of commission with his kidney stones. But even if he wasn’t, there were very limited choices for books in the Catskills.
Other posts related to being an Amazon FBA bookseller that might interest you:
- How to Make Money Selling Used Books
- How to start a used book business online
- Supplies needed to prepare used books for sale and where to find them
Amazon FBA bookseller expenses
There are some basic expenses one encounters when selling books (and most other items) through Amazon FBA:
- Amazon seller account subscription of $39.99 per month
- Boxes, packing materials, shipping labels, tape
- Shipping fees
- Equipment fees: smart phone, cost of data usage, cost of printer(s), etc.
- Transportation costs (to and from locations where you buy products and drop off shipments)
- Cost of purchasing product
- Amazon fees for the sale of each product (vary by sale price and weight/dimensions of product)
- Refunds, lost/damaged product and inventory write-offs
- Inventory storage fees
Once you start making sales, the seller account fee and shipping fees deduct from your Amazon seller account before they pay you. Our shipping fees average $0.20 to $0.40 per book. Amazon pays its sellers every 2 weeks.
I mentioned before that we usually get our packing materials for free. We get empty apple boxes from grocery stores, or ask for free boxes from the thrift stores where we buy books. For packing materials, we often use old newspapers or ads.
We already had our smart phones, and of course data plans. We try to use WiFi whenever we can to reduce eating up our data. But we did buy new printers. Just a basic Hewlett-Packard inkjet printer and a DYMO Label Writer thermal printer. We bought both for less than $150. There were some other miscellaneous items: some training classes I took, and the purchase of some software.
The IRS allows deductions of transportation costs for business purposes. You can either deduct the actual vehicle costs or mileage.
Book costs vary. Some were free; others (ones with high resale value) cost up to $20. However, the average cost per book is less than $3.
We had very few returns of products. Our total refunds amounted in losses of $53.09. When a product is returned, Amazon examines it to see if it’s in saleable condition. If it is, then the listing will go back up and Amazon takes back the money from the seller (us). If it is not in the same condition as when it was sold, then Amazon does not refund the customer’s money and we keep our fees.
Sometimes, Amazon loses our products or damages them when they receive them. This is usually a pain, because it’s unlikely they will pay us what we could sell it for. But, the payment they give usually covers our expenses for purchasing and shipping the product.
We also sometimes get books that we just can’t sell. This happened a few times when we picked up several boxes of books for free, and a few times with books we bought. Any books we could not sell were donated back to thrift stores. We are allowed to write off our donations. You can use a cost of $1 per paperback or higher for hardcover, but we chose to just use $1 for every book to make it easier.
Amazon charges monthly storage fees based on the volume of product they hold for you in their warehouse. Most Amazon experts recommend you only sell products for 3-4 times your cost of the item (including purchase, shipping and storing). Assuming you buy and sell products following these rules, storage fees are not a problem and should not cut into your profit. in any meaningful way. We average about 500 books in inventory at any given time, and our monthly storage fees are about $10 for our entire inventory. They are, however, going up…but we’ll deal with that in a future post.
Net profits as an Amazon FBA bookseller
After all our expenses, our net sales this year through the end of September total $595.04.
I wish this number was higher–I was hoping to turn more of a profit by now. But with all the illness and other things going on, there just wasn’t enough time to focus on this business. Also, from where we stayed in New York we often had to drive hundreds of miles to get books–so our mileage expenses are very high.
The great thing, however, was how even when Ryan went a month or more without buying a single book, we still had orders selling and shipping, and he didn’t have to do a thing. That’s the nice thing about having all our inventory at Amazon’s warehouse.
This is definitely a business that Ryan enjoys, and his earlier retail career helps him a lot to understand how it works (although I don’t think it’s necessary to be successful).
A discount code just for our readers!
As a thank-you to everyone who reads this blog and follows our story, and because the holidays are coming up, we decided to have a sale on our inventory!
This discount is only for our inventory on Amazon–we have a wide selection of books, so it’s likely you’ll find something for yourself or to give as a gift. The sale runs starting October 2, 2017 through December 31st, 2017.
Here’s how you use it:
Go to our products on our Amazon Bike-Cook-Explore Storefront. As of this writing, we have 630 products listed for sale, and all but 2 are in the “Books” category. Select your products and use the discount code JCW3V7SW at checkout.
Unless someone purchases one of the items, the page you land on will look like this:
Please keep in mind that all of our books are print only, so you will need to buy the print edition. We do not sell any Kindle/electronic book formats.
To ensure you receive the discount, you must buy our copy of each book. Amazon often has books for sale from many different sellers.
Here’s how to make sure you get our book:
Select your book. See example below, from our stock, for The Glass Castle:
When you click on the book, it automatically selects the format for our product, and our price, which is $13.99. In this case, it is paperback. To the right where it usually says “Add to Cart” it instead says “See All Buying Options.” Click on this button.
The next page shows we have a single copy of the book for $13.99. You can see to the right that the seller is Bike-Cook-Explore (and we have 100% positive feedback). Click on the “Add to cart” button.
I can’t show you the next page without wiping out all the cookies from my browser, because as the seller I am not allowed to buy my own products. However, here are the discounts:
Spend $30 and get 5% off
Spend $55 and get 10% off
Spend $75 and get 15% off
Spend $90 and get 20% off
Typically, the totals are not inclusive of tax and shipping, if applicable. You must buy that amount in product. You cannot combine this with other discounts.
However, you may use the code as many times as you want between now and December 31st at midnight Pacific Time. Enter the discount code below when prompted at checkout.
Here’s your discount code again: JCW3V7SW
Let me know if you have any questions or difficulties. This is our first promotion, so we don’t know quite yet how it all works on our end. On your end it should work seamlessly!