Sell Books Online

Sell books online: Seller's guide

€39 a month (excluding VAT).
Online business ideas for sellers in 2022
In recent years, online book sales have skyrocketed. With the rise of new technologies, e-books have emerged as a convenient, sustainable and very economical alternative to traditional paper books. Many avid readers have switched to digital format, persuaded by the possibility of having all their favourite novels on one lightweight and compact device.

However, the rise in e-book sales has also revived traditional reading and, as a result, both new and second-hand paper books have also found their place in online sales.

If you are passionate about reading and you want to take your hobby to the next level, opening your own online bookstore could be an ideal career alternative for you. All you need is a little time and the right tools to awaken your entrepreneurial spirit and become your own boss. Sounds good, doesn't it?

In this article, we'll show you all the steps you need to take to start your own business selling books online, including the strategies, standards and regulations, as well as advice on compliance and shipping to make things easier for you.

What is an online bookshop?

We will begin by defining the concept of an online bookshop, which is nothing more than a shop for selling books over the internet. However, there are different types of online bookshops depending on what they sell:
  • New books: there are online bookshops that mirror the concept of a traditional shop, where you can find everything from classics to just-released bestsellers.
  • Used books: this is a perfect option for those looking for novels at a lower price. In general, bookshops catalogue the item based on its condition. They can be practically like new, in very good condition or well used. The price will also depend on its condition.
  • Paper books: as mentioned above, many readers don't want to lose the enjoyment they get from turning physical pages, so reading on paper is the only option for them.
  • E-books: for those looking for practicality and convenience or for those who travel a lot and don't want to carry a lot of weight, e-books have proven to be a lifeline.
The internet is home to a wide variety of bookshops. Some stores offer all or most of the types of books mentioned above, while others are dedicated to selling a specific type of book. Each bookshop will offer various shipping and payment options, such as credit/debit card, bank transfer or payment on delivery, to facilitate the purchase process for its users.
Man reading a book

How to sell books online?

If you have already decided that you want to start your own business selling books online, the first thing you need to do is find an existing website or create your own domain for your online bookshop. Once you've done this, you're ready to start advertising your books.

Depending on the books you are going to sell (physical or digital), the demands of your business will be substantially different.

If you sell physical books, given the large amount of space they occupy, you need to have the storage or facilities that work as a warehouse. When a buyer purchases a book, you'll need to organise the item's packaging and shipping, with the logistics that entails.

On the other hand, if you only sell e-books, the process will be much more automated: once you receive an order from a customer, all you have to do is check the payment and send the digital book to the customer's email. This avoids warehouse costs, as well as the costs of shipping and personnel to manage the packages and prepare shipments.

Types of books that can be sold online

In an online bookshop, you can sell all kinds of literary material, just as you would in a physical shop. What's more, as a buyer, searching in an online bookshop can be much easier than going to a physical shop, since you usually have a search engine that allows you to apply all kinds of filters to simplify things.

The main categories in an online bookstore include:
  • General books: these can be categorised into a wide range of different sections, such as bestsellers, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, autobiographies, etc.
  • Specific books: this category would be dedicated to a more specific audience, such as lovers of rare books, comics, collectibles, etc.
  • Books in other languages: this category can include everything from novels in foreign languages to educational material for learning languages.
Filters can also be applied to the sale format. In the case of traditional books, these can be hardback or paperback, while e-books can be downloaded in various formats, depending on the e-reader with which they will be used. Some of the most common electronic formats include MOBI, PFD and EPUB.

As a digital format, there is another option that has become very popular in recent years, as it allows individuals to do other tasks while enjoying a novel or other reading material. This is the audiobook, which, as its name suggests, is a book in audible format. Many people have become fans of this alternative, listening while exercising, travelling or doing household chores. Chores like cooking and cleaning the house can become fun with a good audiobook.

These three options (paper books, e-books and audiobooks) are available in many online bookstores. However, the first option requires shipping the book to the buyer (or collection by the buyer if the business also has a physical pick-up location), while e-books and audiobooks can be downloaded immediately.

The purchased book's format is also usually reflected in the price, given that digital formats tend to be cheaper as there is no need for printing, storage or shipping costs.
Woman reading a book

How to find books for selling online?

Once you have developed your e-bookshop idea, it's time to stop and think about a very important aspect of the business: suppliers. Who is going to supply the books for your business? You should study all the available options, such as buying in bulk, from retailers, other bookshops or directly from the publishers themselves. All of this will depend on the expected sales volume and your storage capacity.

Carrying out market research or analysing recently published studies on people's reading tastes can guide you when deciding what types of books to add to your inventory.

Depending on whether you are going to sell only new books or if you also want to sell second-hand books, you will have to consider options such as collecting used books, second-hand shops, jumble sales, etc. Another option is to list used books that you have collected yourself from your own home or from the homes of family or friends.

Once you have collected your books, whether they are books you bought new or used books you've collected, you'll need to make an inventory to start listing your items. Keeping an updated inventory will allow you to properly organise your warehouse and be able to better meet the needs of your online bookshop visitors and sellers.
Selling books on Amazon

How to sell books on Amazon?

If you decide to sell books through Amazon, we'll tell you the key steps you need to take to set up your own shop on the website:
  • First of all, you need to register. When registering as a selling partner, you need to choose the selling plan that best suits you, which can be the Individual or the Professional plan, depending on the monthly sales you expect to make. You can compare both plans here.
  • Before advertising your products, it is a good idea to define a clear sales strategy. To do this, you can learn from the sellers who have had the most success in this sector and learn more about your potential customers, who may be B2C or B2B customers.
  • Once you've analysed the market, both in terms of supply and demand, it's time to add your first ads. To do this, you need to be fully aware of the legal regulations and restrictions. Once this is done, you can add all the necessary data for listing your product, i.e.:
  1. A product identifier: in this case, the ISBN, to specify the exact product you are offering for sale.
  2. An SKU, which is a product identifier that you create to monitor your own inventory.
  3. Offer details: these include the price, the condition of the item, the number of units available, and the shipping options you provide.
  4. Product details: name, brand, category, description and images.
  5. Keywords and search terms: these will help buyers find your product more easily.
It is important to remember that there is a fixed price policy in Spain for the sale of books.

If you'd like more information on how to sell through Amazon, we recommend that you take a look at the beginner's guide available at this link.

Books that can be sold on Amazon

You may not have known, but Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon back in 1994, originally launched it as a website for selling books online. Now, it is used for all kinds of products, but today we will explore the types of books that can be sold through Amazon:
  • New books: If you're looking to sell new books, you might consider buying them through wholesalers, distributors or the publishers themselves. More often than not, buying in large batches is more economical.
  • Used books: second-hand books are easier to find, in addition to being cheaper and more profitable for selling in an online bookshop. There are many places where you can find used books: flea markets, local libraries, second-hand shops, etc.
  • Textbooks: you can also sell school textbooks that are in good condition but are no longer of use in your home. Take them off your shelf and get some money for them. Try to provide all possible details about them (editions, condition, etc.), and choose the best time to sell them, which is usually spring and autumn, i.e. before the start of the school year.
  • Books without an ISBN: the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a code that enables books to be registered unambiguously. However, books published before 1970 may not have one, so to sell these types of older books, you will need to request an exemption.
  • Collector's books or rare books: old or classic books tend to have a very specific niche market. In order to provide potential buyers with more information about the item they are interested in, it is important that you publish true information about the condition of the book in question.
  • E-books: If you want to focus on selling your own e-books as a first-time author, we recommend that you consider KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), a publishing option that will be discussed in more detail below.


As mentioned above, KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) offers writers the possibility to self-publish books in both electronic and paper formats, free of charge. The benefits of this self-publishing option include:
  1. Publication is quick and easy. In less than 5 minutes, the book will have been uploaded to KDP, and within 72 hours, it will be in Kindle stores around the world.
  2. Publishing through KDP allows you to earn up to 70% with royalties from sales to customers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, India, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Mexico or Australia, among other countries.
  3. KDP allows you to maintain control of your rights and set your own prices. In addition, you can make changes to your book on the fly.
  4. With KDP, it is possible to publish both in electronic format and in physical paperback format free of charge.
If writing is your passion, then look no further than Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon's platform that gives you the opportunity to self-publish your first work so that it will soon be in the Kindle Store for users around the world.

Rules and regulations

Although selling through Amazon involves a simple process, it is essential that you are familiar with certain requirements for selling specific product categories, such as books.

For example, the Books category requires products to be shipped within two business days from the date of receipt of the order.

In addition, Amazon allows only one account per selling partner, except in the case of selling partners in the Books, Music, Video and DVD categories. This exception is because Amazon understands that these selling partners need to open a second online shop if they offer different product ranges. This second account must have different financial information from the main one, i.e. it cannot have the same credit card or bank account linked to it. Amazon reserves the right to close accounts that violate these rules.

Second-hand books are classified according to their condition into the following categories:
  • Like new
  • Very good
  • Good
  • Acceptable
Furthermore, the sale of mouldy, heavily stained or dirty books, books that are missing pages or that contain illegible text, promotional books or uncorrected drafts is prohibited.

For books to be collectibles, they must be signed and be a limited first edition copy, be out of print or have some superior quality to justify their price.

As you can see, there are very specific rules about the conditions of books. In this link you will find more information about what you need to take into account before you list a product in your store.

Fulfilment and shipping books:

You already have your online shop for selling books on Amazon. Now, you might ask yourself: "What next?" Keep reading if you want to learn about the fulfilment and shipping methods for books offered by Amazon for this product category:

Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA)

When a product is sold on Amazon, you can choose to ship it yourself or have Fulfilment by Amazon handle the entire process. You can also choose a combination of the two. The Fulfilment by Amazon option allows you to offer fast and free shipping, often accompanied by the Prime badge on many offers, which is an attractive attribute for selling partners.

Advantages of Fulfilment by Amazon

The benefits of FBA include:
  • No more logistical issues, as you will be delegating all that part of the business to Amazon.
  • Outsourced storage, customer service and returns.
  • The option of one-day shipping to Prime customers for many of your products.
  • Displaying the Prime badge on most of the products you sell in your shop.
  • Improved chances of positioning yourself as a featured offer on product detail pages.
In this link, you will find the Fulfilment by Amazon quick start guide, where you can learn more about the benefits of this type of fulfilment outsourcing through Fulfilment by Amazon.

Fees and payment

As mentioned above, Amazon offers two sales plans: Individual and Professional.

In the first, you're required to pay a fee of €0.99 per product sold (excl. VAT), making this plan cost-effective for selling partners with fewer than 40 sales per month. If, on the other hand, you have a consolidated business with over 40 monthly sales, you should opt for the Professional plan, which has a monthly price of €39 (excl. VAT).

In addition, selling partners must pay a referral fee depending on the category of the product sold. The referral fee for products in the Books, Music, Video and DVD categories is 15% for each item sold, and there is no minimum referral fee as is the case in other product categories.

As for fulfilment management fees, you will pay a fixed rate per product unit, depending on the type of product, size and weight. You'll also have to pay a monthly storage fee depending on how much space your products occupy in Amazon fulfilment centres.

You will find all the detailed information about rates at the following link.

Tips for online booksellers

Due to the volume of books and their weight, Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) may be an ideal option to avoid having to deal with the tedious aspect of storing, packaging and shipping books. However, if you are going to take responsibility for storing the items from your online bookshop yourself, here are some useful tips:
  • Inventory: keep an updated inventory of the book titles in your bookshop, as well as the units you have of each product. If they are second-hand books, you should also categorise them by their condition.
  • Storage: a book warehouse needs to meet certain requirements to prevent damage, such as storing the books vertically to avoid warping and placing them at right angles to each other. This way, when you need to remove a book, you can slide it out of the row without further complication.
  • Environment: paper tends to yellow easily, so it is always useful to pay extra attention to the environment in which the books are stored. Avoid moisture, insects and dust at all costs; to help with this, it can be very useful to store books in boxes, although ensure these are not too big.
  • Packaging: when preparing to ship a book, make sure that it is properly packaged to avoid the corners getting bent or bumped. Bubble wrap can be used to prevent certain damage during handling.
  • Customer service: to ensure that your customers are satisfied, it is best to share all the details of the product they are going to purchase in advance. In the case of used books, the more information that the customer has about the condition of the book (which may even be accompanied by images), the more satisfied they will be with their purchase, as they were already made aware of the conditions of the product they were purchasing.
  • Selling special editions: for high-value books, such as limited collections or rare books, we recommend storing them separately. It may be useful to wrap them in acid-free paper to prevent stains and to store them in boxes to avoid bumps during transport. We recommend storing them in high places to prevent moisture from reaching them in the event of water leaks or floods, for example.
There is no doubt that books are extremely delicate and fragile products that can be stained and damaged very easily, so precautions must be taken when it comes to managing their storage and shipping.


If, like Jeff Bezos, you also want to get started in the world of e-commerce by selling books online, you've already seen that creating your own bookshop is easy. Whether you decide to sell through Amazon or another website, this guide will give you all the tools you need to understand the different categories of books, the rules about their condition, the selling plans offered by Amazon and the shipping requirements and options that are available for selling books.

So what are you waiting for? Set yourself up as an online bookseller now!


● Is Amazon the right choice for my online bookselling business?
Both large brands, small and medium-sized companies and start-ups choose Amazon as their preferred site to set up their e-commerce shops. So, no matter what size or type of business you have, Amazon is the perfect place for you.
● What is a book's ISBN?
In the online book sales sector, the ISBN is an identification code printed on all books published since 1970; it can usually be found next to the bar code. To sell books, Amazon requires each ISBN to be advertised, unless the product is from before 1970, for which an exemption must be requested.
● Can I publish paper books through KDP?
Yes. Kindle Direct Publishing not only offers you the option of self-publishing your own e-books, but also physical paperback books, free of charge.
● Can books that are missing pages be sold on Amazon?
No, the sale of books that have missing pages, are illegible, mouldy, or very stained or dirty is prohibited on Amazon. You can find more details about the condition in which you can sell your books and how to categorise them according to their condition at the following link.
● What are the benefits of using the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) service?
With Fulfilment by Amazon or FBA, you'll be outsourcing the storage, shipping, customer service and return services for your sales through Amazon, which will save you a lot of work and tedious procedures, leaving you free to focus on what's important: increasing sales and acquiring new customers.
● How are Fulfilment by Amazon fees calculated?
FBA or fulfilment fees vary depending on the category, weight and size of the product being sold. These fees are charged per calendar month for all the items you have stored in Amazon fulfilment centres. You can access the FBA calculator to estimate the price of the service in your case.
● What's the difference between the Individual selling plan and the Professional selling plan?
The Amazon Individual selling plan involves a fee of €0.99 (excl. VAT) for each product sold. This plan is suitable for selling partners who have just started selling through Amazon or who have sales of fewer than 40 units per month. The Professional plan offers more benefits than the Individual plan and has the payment of a monthly fee of €39 (excl. VAT). This plan is more suitable for established business partners who sell more than 40 units per month and who are looking for other functionalities by selling on Amazon.
● How should books be stored and packaged to prevent them from being damaged?
As books are extremely sensitive products, it is advisable to keep them stored in an environment that is free of moisture, dust and insects. We also recommend storing them vertically, to avoid having to move all the books every time you need to pick one up, and not stacking them in a way where the ones at the bottom are bearing all the weight.

As for packaging for shipment, it is advisable to wrap books in paper or bubble wrap to protect them from being bumped or damaged during transport.

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