How to profit from 1p books on Amazon

By Sharon Fussell, July 14, 2011

I know we have discussed 1p books in the past but it is a subject that comes up time and time again when new subscribers to Sold Dispatch Now (SDN) start up. So I thought we can look again at this subject and see how to profit selling 1p books on Amazon.

If you log into the sellers discussion board on Amazon you will discover that the subject of 1p books often springs up, with quite emotive heated messages. This is because we will find as we list, many books are in fact devalued because they are priced at 1p.

Many existing sellers blame newcomers for pricing books at a penny, but I disagree, on the whole it is not a newbie that sell books for 1p unless they are following the ‘pack’, it is the multi-listers using listing software.

Because they tend to sell in large volume and upload books accordingly, they often have no idea on the actual value of books in comparison to prices already on the system and so for some reason seem to place a value of 1p against their books. Thus anyone following them will also price at 1p and so on and so forth.

Predominantly selling books is a supply and demand business, so if sellers have hundreds of books of the same title and if many sellers have the same books then competition can be fierce. Thus books are priced at low values to shift ’em.

What can be annoying though is when there are only a few books available and they are priced at 1p. In most cases, due to large volume, sellers with listing software pricing accordingly. But when it comes down to it, just how do these sellers make any money on 1p books?

No it’s not impossible! How to profit from selling 1p books on Amazon

I know it can seem incredulous that profits can be made from 1p books, especially if you know that certain books are extremely heavy and would possibly cost in the region of £4+ to post. When you sell a 1p book on Amazon you will actually receive £2.27 if you are a proseller and less if you are a marketplace seller. This is why I do not recommend selling 1p books when you first start SDN.

Only when you are selling 30 items+ and can profitably become a proseller would I recommend selling 1p books. But again you have to be very careful when listing to ensure that the total price of £2.27 will cover the cost of the book, actual postage costs and packaging.

So concentrate on light, thin books.

Baring that in mind, how on earth can profits be made from 1p books?

It is very possible to pick up large letter size paperbacks in great condition from charity shops and car boots.

Personally I rarely pay over 25p for my fiction paperbacks or hardbacks for that matter. In fact for any books that I buy in bulk from charity shops, usually between 20p/25p per book. Although I do buy at least 100 at any one time.

Basically when selling books in volume (over 100 a week) you can apply for royal mail discounted postage called ‘PPI’.

This essentially means that you pay postage on the average weight of books not individual weights. Thus a large stack of packets that may cost in access of £1.80 up to a weight of 750 grams each, may cost £1.27 even if one or two of the books individually weigh up to 2kg each.

You only need a few light packets to average out the weight. Thus selling 1p books becomes profitable. The profits are small per individual item, but if you sell a hundred a day and only make £1 profit per item overall that’s £700 a week, just from selling 1p books!

I have discovered that penny fiction books not only bulk up my sales they usually bring down the average weights of my packets, thus this enables me to qualify for PPI and boosts my income. Because I buy in bulk from charity shops, I don’t have to check out any prices and yes many books turn out to only have a value of 1p, but I also receive higher prices for my books than competitors…Whilst other sellers may price their books at 1p if there are only a few titles available (i.e 35 copies), I price mine at least £1. I can do this because;-

1) I buy books in very good condition, discarding well creased, marked books and
2) My feedback of 5 stars and high ratings is more attractive than the low feedback rating of my competitors.

How to make money on old books

Now I’m not talking about rare books here. Of course it is very possible to make money on out of rare print books. But what you may have is old books from the 1950s, 60s and early 70s…

Hardbacks usually bound in a coloured cloth. They may have a paper dust jacket and they are usually book club editions. I know my parents were avid readers, as we lived abroad my mum subscribed to a book club and we always had hundreds of books. When she died I could not bear to get rid of her books, yet I knew I did not want to read them. They took up room and I always believed there was no market for them anyway. Until I discovered a source that actually wanted to buy these type books. They are used as instant libraries and will live on in large houses and perhaps pubs. In effect, they become ornaments.

Subject matter is unimportant (although children’s books are unwanted) all that matters is that the spine is intact, the inside of the book is unimportant and ex library copies with stamps, tanning or missing pages are not a problem.

The downside is that you will need to have hundreds of them, not a few copies. So if you find you have hundreds of these books or can get them on a regular basis Gary is keen to hear from you…

He will pay a small amount per book and for delivery costs or may even collect the books himself. I suspect that you could get charity shops to give these books to you free of charge as they have to pay to get them taken away, it could be a nice little earner for you.

If you want more info just ask me for Gary’s email address via the ezine.

Happy Bookselling!


What do you think?

You must be logged in to post a comment.