How best to price your books…

By Sharon Fussell, July 1, 2015

An ever-important part of selling online is deciding how best to price your items…

It’s something I often get asked, and it’s especially prevalent if, of course, there are no other price comparisons on Amazon.

Sometimes you may well come across description pages where there are no offers – because there are none of that particular title for sale.

There is no definitive response to this dilemma: in the end, it ultimately depends on what book it is in question.

For example…

Is the copy rare? Then it’s more likely there are no other copies on Amazon at all.

Is it that there is a dearth of UK sellers and sellers from other continents have priced the item at a high offer? It is quite amusing sometimes when this happens, because I cannot see anyone paying these prices.

I feel that being out of print with few copies might make the item quite ‘rare’, but it’s unlikely this means you can put a ridiculous price against it – if you really want to sell it, as apposed to store it forever!

Fundamentally pricing is not about selling products as cheap as you can: it’s about getting the best possible price.

Thus you want to price as high as you can – without pricing it out of the market – yet you should likely want to get a ‘good’ price and healthy profit. After all, most books do not sell for their true worth, as they are so often under valued on Amazon.

So – if there is not competition for an item you want to sell, how much should you charge?

When I research, I usually use the following methods: Google, other book sites such as, and eBay.

Utilise these sites to help you if you have no idea of a product’s true worth. Research the title / ISBN / publisher of the product to see if other sites are selling that title. If other sites are selling a similar copy, you can use the price as a guide.

Remember: if other sites are selling the same item for a certain price, for example, in the USA only for only a few dollars, you can still price your item higher on the UK Amazon site. Few buyers shop around other sites when buying.

Additionally, not many customers would want to buy off other sites, especially if unknown to them, and few would want the bother of purchasing from USA or other countries if an item is available on a UK site.

Look for these factors to help decide on realistic prices.

You should also look at Sales Rankings. Is there a sales ranking and if so, is this high or low? (A low number – perhaps under one million – means an item is likely to be in demand.)

Ask yourself what condition the product is in. The better the condition the more likely it will be purchased.

Also see how unusual the item is. How niche is it? The more unusual the genre, the more likely the ranking will be ‘high’, thus not in demand – but it only takes one person in the world to want it.

Then ask yourself if there is there another copy available with another ISBN… Perhaps an earlier or later printout?

Distinguishing factors is the next thing to look for: is something special that distinguishes it from the other copies that have the same title and writer? For eample, is it a signed copy, a special edition, an unusual cover, or a special printing with a leather cover (and not a standard hardback or soft back cover)?

See if there are other copies with alternative covers – for example, paperback/hardback?

You can use different cover types to your book as a guide. If your book is a paperback and the only other copies on the system are hardcovers, you can gauge a realistic price from that comparison.

If you’re selling text books and study books, beware if you have an older copy than others on the system: if there is a new edition and the edition you want to list has no sales ranking, then it’s possible there is not much point in listing that item.

The same applies if there are several copies of the same title with different publishing dates.

What if you have a niche item with no sales ranking… Does this mean no one will purchase it? Will it be on the system for years before it does sell?

Well not necessarily, I have often sold items with no sales ranking, and quickly too.

Don’t just pluck a figure out of the air to price an item: it’s best to make an educated guess. Perhaps think of what you would be happy to receive, and what price you think a buyer will be happy to pay.

There is a saying that if you sell a book quickly, you have priced too low – if it is taking ages to sell you have priced too high. Remember: you can put a high price and keep lowering it at regular intervals, perhaps every three months or so, but if you price too low you may lose out if it sells quickly.


What do you think?

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