Getting the price right: how to price your books when selling on Amazon

By Sharon Fussell, June 20, 2013

The Art of Pricing Books to Sell on Amazon

I noted this week that Amazon held a webinar on how to list in bulk.

I was invited via email with the following question:

Would you like to use inventory files to list in bulk but are struggling to get started? If so, our next webinar could be especially relevant to you.

Now if you are not sure what an Amazon webinar is, here is a description:

‘A webinar is a training session which is held online via the Internet. No microphone is needed since you will be able to ask your questions via the chat function. You can use the speakers of your computer to listen to the presenters.’

I am not sure who are eligible to ‘attend’ webinars – it might be limited to FBA sellers, as Amazon invites you via an email link only. If this is of interest to you, contact seller central who will inform you of eligibility.

I have to admit, listing can become a chore and the thought of listing in bulk does sound attractive.

I have actually looked into using the bulk loader software Amazon provide: as far as I can tell, you list using codes that relate to book descriptions, so you would need to learn these codes for speed of use.

My biggest bugbear relating to this concept is that I just cannot see how you can compare prices for other books for sale on the system.

It’s possibly why many mammoth sellers list most of their stock for £2.81 (or less if using FBA), regardless of how many other copies are available, thus devaluing the price of perfectly good rarer books.

As a result, I do not use bulk listing software. Admittedly, sometimes I think I would love to employ someone to list my books and prepare them to send to Amazon. I could spend more time out and about buying new stock, which I love to do.

In reality, however, I would not trust anyone else to list and thus price my stock – it’s just not straightforward to price books. There are many nuances to this and I believe it is an art.

The fine art of pricing books to sell on Amazon

I have said before that listing on Amazon does not mean selling items for the cheapest price – it’s the best price you can get in each individual instance.

With this in mind, sometimes I price an item many many times the price of the lowest-priced item and sell it without problem.

Such as with this recent sale: Hunter’s Moon 978-0044403012 – the sales ranking is a healthy 323,425 and there are only 12 copies available for sale on the system, yet six sellers have priced their book at £2.81.

My copy of this title was 14th in line on the selling page, yet I sold my copy for £12.99.

Books such as these should never be priced at £2.81, yet they are and often. Needless to say, I do not follow suit: I pitch my price at what I feel is a fair price, both for the buyer to pay and also to give me a nice profit.

Sometimes I will price a penny or two below the lowest merchant seller price; other times I will list just under the Amazon price, despite my item being listed as used and theirs new. Each listing is an individual decision.

You may feel a bit of a rogue pricing an item for hundreds – and indeed, in some cases thousands – of percent higher than the price you actually paid for it. But selling books is a little like selling antiques – you get what you can; there is no standard price.

Most of my stock is quite obscure and odds-on you will only ever come across one of its kind.

Sometimes you may pick up the same title time and time again. Agreed, it’s usually the popular-fiction/non-fiction attracting a low value, but when sold in volume, low-value, popular, quick-selling stock is certainly worth bothering with for accumulative profit margins (FBA selling only, I do not think fiction sold for £2.81 by merchant sellers will attract any profits now, due to cost of postage).

Some items will sell for a very low price if it’s in plentiful supply. Other books will if they are in demand, but short supply will usually sell for much higher profits; it’s all down to market forces.

Out-of-print in-demand items should make up for the low prices that you are compelled to list your popular stock for.

You need to be prepared to price your stock for what you can get, getting a balance between your item fetching a nice healthy profit, yet not priced out of the market.

In many respects, pricing does get easier with practice.

If you sell a book quickly you may feel you have priced it too cheaply. But ultimately you have no way of knowing that – it could be the price at which you placed your item was the most a buyer would pay anyway.


What do you think?

You must be logged in to post a comment.