Tips on Shipping Books as a Amazon Book Merchant

Tips on Shipping Books as a Amazon Book Merchant

These are some helpful tips I learned while becoming a online book merchant.

Use Media Mail Shipping 

Until I started shipping books I was unaware that the US Postal Service has a special shipping rate for media (books, cd’s, movies, etc).  For most books using media mail postage from USPS is the cheapest shipping option.

As you get your book selling business running turning shipping into a profit center is key to getting a better profit margin.  Understanding this is important because Amazon has a fixed shipping rate of $3.99, meaning you will only get $3.99 for shipping no matter how much you spend to ship it.  Reducing your shipping supply costs and watching the weight of the books you choose to sell is important.

If at all possible you want to ship the book for less than $3.99.  First this is an opportunity to gain some extra profit, but if you have a heavy book (textbook) it’s also where you can lose profit.  It depends on the mix of books you are selling.  If you have a lot of college textbooks or reference books that are heavy or large, make sure to factor in additional costs for shipping and more expensive packing materials in the cost of the book.

Sample Data for Fees you may encounter (20 real books sold, with a few heavy books in the mix)

Amazons Per Item Selling Fee ($.99) – If you ship more than 40 books per month you can become a pro seller for $39.99 per month and no longer have this fee
Amazon Referral Fee (average $1.94, low $0.74)
Amazon Variable Closing Fee ($1.35)

(So without supplies to shipping the book Amazon fees averaged $4.28)

Postage (average $3.72, low $2.72, high $5.72)
Amazon Postage Trans Fee – Amazons Fee to buy postage ( 7 cents)
Mailer – Polly Bag or padded mailer ($0.06 to .08)
Bubble Wrap (.07 per 1ft sheet,  used .21 cents worth on average just to make sure corners of books did not get damaged)
Laser Mailing Labels (.04 per label)

(The average total for the postage and all the shipping supplies was  $4.10 and Amazon charges a flat $3.99 to the buyer for the shipping, which means that I lost on average 11 cents per book on postage.  )

This brings the average total expense to ship the book to $4.39 with at least another 50 cents for the cost of the book.  Even though this is a lot of expense you can still find many books that have a value of $5 or more, my target was for the lowest selling price to be no less than $6.00.

Knowing the lowest selling price for the book and it’s movement ranking are critical to making a good decision when buying.  Use an app for your phone like the “Amazon Seller” or the “Amazon Shopping” App.  The Low Price Books app offers many of these same features but it’s focus is more on buying books as a consumer  rather than a research tool.

Watch that inventory

Be very careful about updating your inventory levels on the Amazon inventory screen.  I made several mistakes starting out.  When adding a book to your inventory the first time there is a question about how many copies of the book you have and for me the normal answer was 1.  Shortly after posting the book (a hour or so) I noticed the inventory was zero, no pending orders either.  So I assumed that I did not add any inventory to the listed book, so I changed it back to 1.

This was really a bad idea, short version of the story is there was a pending order that took my original inventory of 1 where the credit card for the user was pending and was slow being processed by Amazon.  So by adding the inventory again the second copy sold before I understood what happened to the first order.  I had to cancel the second order and ended up getting a bad per-fulfillment cancel rate due to this.  In the long run it did not matter but it was a lesson learned.

Supplies you need


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