7 MIN. READ

A Guide to Starting Your Own Online Book Selling Business

Source, promote and sell books online

Why sell books online in Australia?

Selling books online can be a great way to bring in income and build a flexible business. Whether you’re planning to sell historical fiction, specialise in retro comics or ship the latest bestsellers out to your customers, there are a few key reasons why book selling can be an amazing business venture.

Low startup costs

A book selling business can often be started with whatever you have on hand. Books can generally be sourced cost-effectively from a range of sources. These low startup costs can help minimise your risk as an online seller.

Profitability and scalability

Book selling online can be a rewarding business with the right products and target audience. It’s also the type of business that can often scale according to your level of investment and goals for growth, and suit your ambitions over time.

Flexibility

Some sellers might learn how to start a book selling business as a convenient side gig, while others might plan to build full-time businesses. Whatever your business model, book selling can offer flexibility to suit.

An intro to business

Selling books online can be an exciting way to enter the world of entrepreneurship. Along the way you can learn about inventory management, SEO, bookkeeping, the value of customer reviews and providing top customer service.

You’re encouraging people to read

What’s not to love about getting more people to read and enjoy books? Whether you’re selling non-fiction or fiction books, schoolbooks or Sci-Fi, you can be proud knowing you’re contributing to a better-read world.

Which books should you sell online?

Relaxing holiday reads, or gripping murder mysteries? Language guides – or bright and lively kids’ books? There are endless options when you’re choosing which books to sell, so here’s a rundown of the possibilities for your business.

Brand new books

A quick perusal of Amazon’s best-selling books will show you there’s high demand for the latest bestsellers. You might specialise in biographies, fiction, architecture or the newest self-help guides. Perhaps you want to offer a broad range of new reads.

Used books

There’s also a healthy appetite for pre-loved books online. Consider the literary classics, as well as beloved children’s books like Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. What are the books that people keep coming back to again and again?
Note: Selling options vary by region. To learn more about options on the Amazon Australia store, please visit Condition guidelines: Books.

General tips for selling books

It’s worth considering these key tips to maximise interest and appeal for the books you’re selling online:

• Check existing listings of the same title or author as you invest in new stock, so you can gain a clear idea of demand and pricing

• Research the most popular book categories and themes so you can identify any selling patterns or upcoming trends

• Consider when demand for certain books might be higher – for example, lots of people might look for books around gift-giving dates and summer holidays

• Monitor and adjust prices according to what’s available

And now, let’s explore some of the day-to-day elements of how to start an online bookstore business in Australia.

Developing a book business strategy

Before you sell books online, it’s worth setting out your objectives and strategies for growth.

Decide on your business model

While you might test and try different methods in the early days of your business, it helps to have a plan in place to guide your direction. Spend some time defining your customer segment and who your target audience is likely to be. Perhaps it’s university students, Sci-Fi fans, Young Adult fiction readers or history buffs. Ask yourself:

• Where would your customers learn about books to buy?

• How do they like to share book recommendations with friends?

• Where do they turn first if there’s a particular title they’re seeking?

Procure books

Determine how you’ll be sourcing and selling books online. Will you work with wholesalers, distributors and direct with publishers?

Sell on Amazon

Amazon makes it simple to sell in Australia, create your own online storefront and access millions of customers worldwide through global selling. You can also choose from a number of advertising solutions designed to help your brand and products stand out to buyers.

Amazon is designed to support sellers at every level of experience, so if you’re new to online selling we have a range of handy guides and tips to help you get started with your online store.

Learn how to sell on Amazon >

Open your selling account

If you’re selling books on Amazon Australia, there are two types of selling accounts to choose from.

1. The first option is an Individual plan, which can suit first-time sellers and occasional sellers. The pay-as-you-go structure of this plan provides flexibility if you’re not selling on a regular basis, or if you won’t need advertising or bulk-listing options.

2. The second is the Professional plan, which is ideal if you plan to sell over 50 items a month or build a full-time book selling business. The Professional plan gives you advanced selling tools such as APIs and reports, the ability to create bulk listings and access to Amazon’s advertising and promotional tools.

Compare pricing for selling plans >

Read up on book selling

Now to equip yourself with the knowledge you’ll need to sell books and deliver quality service for your customers. Learn how to accurately comply with Amazon’s book condition requirements, and familiarise yourself with common book selling terminology.

Lingo to learn

• A Stock Keeping Unit, or SKU, is a number that’s unique to a type of product and helps you keep track of inventory.

• An International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, is a barcode that’s unique to each published book. An ISBN is a type of SKU.

• An Amazon Standard Identification Number, or ASIN, is a unique alphanumeric code that’s automatically assigned to every Amazon product listing.

Devise a marketing strategy

Will you focus on consistent pricing, or grow sales through regular advertising and promotions? Will you plan to connect with customers through a social media presence? If so, which social media platforms do your customers love using?

Don’t forget the value of a compelling product description and high quality product photos. Blurbs and customer reviews can both be powerful customer touchpoints when selling fiction and non-fiction books.

Set your pricing

Your book pricing may vary depending on a number of factors. There’s a balance to be found between offering a competitive price and maintaining a successful profit margin for your book selling business.

List your products

If listing on Amazon, listing a book with an ISBN code can be as simple as typing the code into Amazon's search bar to find an existing listing. Click on the "Sell on Amazon" button, enter your pricing and quantities, and Amazon will guide you through the rest.

Where do I find an ISBN?

The ISBN of a book will be printed on the back cover of the book, situated just above the barcode. Note that books printed before 1970 won’t have an International Standard Book Number.

Fulfilling orders

How will you get books into customer’s hands? Think about whether you’ll want to fulfil orders yourself for your book selling business online, or if you’ll use a fulfilment service for some or all products.

Fulfilment by Amazon is an optional service that can help you automate and streamline many of the essential business tasks involved in running an online store. Many sellers use a mix of fulfilment by seller and Fulfilment by Amazon. Once you ship your products to Amazon’s fulfilment centre, Amazon can store, pick, pack and ship your FBA orders for you – as well as handling returns and 24/7 customer service for your FBA products. FBA listings are also eligible for premium delivery options, including free expedited shipping on Prime-eligible orders for Amazon Prime members.

Factor in shipping and fulfilment costs

Storage, packing and shipping costs can be some of the typical costs you’ll need to factor into your profit margins. As a seller, you can either manage and pay for these costs individually or streamline these steps and costs via simple Amazon FBA pricing.

If you’re taking orders through multiple sales channels at once, these can be simplified too. Amazon can fulfil these via Multi-Channel Fulfilment.

Keep enough titles in stock

Nobody wants to miss out on potential sales if a certain title starts to trend because of social buzz or a seasonal trend. Maintaining healthy inventory levels will help you to make the most of demand and deliver to happy customers. Amazon’s Inventory Performance Index helps you to gauge your inventory performance over time and is available for sellers using the Professional selling plan.

Be clear about book condition

If you’re approved to sell used books on Amazon Australia, be sure to describe each book’s condition fairly and accurately so customers will know what to expect. Familiarise yourself with Amazon’s Book Condition Guidelines.

Keep in touch with customers

Seller Central offers plenty of insights into how your sales are tracking over time. As you fulfil and ship orders promptly, be sure to pay attention to customer feedback and reviews so you can continually improve your service. There are a few golden rules for earning positive reviews, including:

• Being clear and honest with customers when describing your products

• Shipping orders promptly

• Responding to enquiries without delay

• Addressing any issues quickly

In short: 5 tips for book selling

1. Find a niche or categories to focus on

You might specialise in brand new romances for a broad customer group, or sell books to a very specific audience. Either way, get to understand your customers.

2. Factor in selling costs

Think about your profit margins before you invest in bulk books, so you can be confident your final selling prices and revenue will be worth your while.

3. Stay across the best seller lists

Aim to stay aware of what’s selling like hot cakes on the best seller lists, so you can anticipate demand and make the most of any opportunities you identify.

4. Be transparent about book condition

Never exaggerate the condition of books, as this can impact on sales, your account health and customer reviews. Always be accurate when describing products.

5. Pack products thoroughly

Whether you’re shipping to Amazon’s fulfilment centres or direct to your customer, pack products with care so they’ll be protected in transit.


As you make sales and learn what sells best, there are plenty of resources and tools available to help grow your business. This can include building your brand and expanding globally to find new customer segments.

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