The textbook rush has begun. Here is everything a Fulfillment by
If you’re selling books on
This is a really important post, and money is slipping through your fingers if you don’t get on this immediately, so let’s get into it. Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- How to really price textbooks for maximum profits (most people get this wrong).
- Why I do not use repricing software with textbooks.
- Why you have to code your SKU’s uniquely for all textbooks.
- How to spot what kind of books students are buying right now (It’s way more than just textbooks).
This is some hardcore tactical advice, for Fulfillment by
Reprcing my textbooks from the eye of the storm
I live literally across the street from a major university. No kidding, I can see three moving trucks from my window as I write this. School is back in session everywhere, or is about to be.
If you’re selling nearly any non-fiction books on
Fundamental rules about pricing textbooks (that don’t apply to anything else)
(I’ve covered some of this before, so skip ahead of you already know the basics of my textbook pricing theory.)
You must price textbooks on
With textbooks, people will pay way, way more for FBA offers that any other category.
I’m going to lay down a firm hand here: Forget whatever you think is a “reasonable” price, or what you think people will pay, and price higher. Much higher.
I’ve said it many times: Textbooks are the perfect formula for profit when sold via Fulfillment by
- Urgency. Textbook purchases are usually time-sensitive, and delivery is needed on short notice by a fixed date. This is where free second-day shipping is a major selling point.
AmazonStudent program. The AmazonStudent program offers six months of AmazonPrime for free, making students a disproportionately large percentage of Prime subscribers ( Amazondoesn’t release exact figures).
Start repricing right now.
Actually, you should have done this yesterday.
Millions of students are flooding
So what’s the formula?
Pricing is always a balance of sales rank and type of book. We have our type of book established (textbooks), so we’re going to use
The Fulfillment by
In the absence of other FBA competition, here is how I price textbooks on
Sales Rank of 1 to 30,000: Price $35 to $50 above the lowest non-FBA offer. Seriously. (I’ve had people pay over $100 more)
Sales Rank of 30,000 to 150,000: Price $30 to $40 above the lowest non-FBA offer.
Sales Rank of 150,000 to 300,000: Price $25 to $35 above lowest non-FBA offer.
Sales Rank of 300,000 to 600,000: Price $15 to $25 above lowest non-FBA offer.
Sales Rank of 600,000 to 900,000: Price $10 to $15 above.
…and if a book is ranked worse than 1 million, use your judgement. It’s possible you’ll want to price your Fulfillment by
And to state the obvious: This is assuming you’re not pricing higher than
A note on the fluidity of Sales Rank
I’m very aware that
A textbook ranked 100,000 right now will probably sell more quickly than a book ranked 1 million. Probably. In the absence of a functioning crystal ball, we’re going to assume this and price based on this assumption.
Note there is a huge amount of subjectivity here. My pricing formula itself is somewhat fluid. This is how I’m pricing as of this moment. And sometimes there are exceptions.
For example, I might see a book ranked 100,000, and think it seems just a little too weird and esoteric to sell a copy every day, and that it probably just sold the only copy it will sell this week (or month). Then I will price conservatively based on this assessment.
What qualifies as a “textbook”? (Answer: way more than just textbooks)
When repricing today, don’t look for books that are obviously “textbooks.” You’re looking for any type of scholarly non-fiction that would appear to be used primarily in an academic setting. You’re also looking for fiction packaged for university students.
For example, a copy of Frankenstein would seem like an unlikely title to price as a textbook. Generally you would be right. But if it was a Norton Critical Edition, with supplemental material just for college students, you could price much higher than a standard copy. Norton Critical Editions are made for students, and you can command textbook prices.
Why I will not use repricing software to reprice textbooks
Repricing textbooks is far too delicate and intuitive for me to trust to repricing software. There’s too much money at stake, and I haven’t found a repricer that can handle all the nuances of my formula.
For example, let’s say there is a textbook ranked 10,000. Lowest merchant fulfilled offer: $10. Under normal conditions, I would price this at $50 or so, and see what happens. It will probably sell, if it’s textbook season (i.e. now).
But let’s say some bozo priced his Fulfillment by
I won’t. A textbook ranked 10,000 will possibly sell hundreds of copies before textbook season ends. I expect the lowball sellers to sell out quickly, and I’ll be next in line.
This might not happen. But when the profit difference is literally 500% or more, I’m happy to take the risk. Again, I’m hedging my bets. And it usually pays off.
But then let’s say there is a fifth FBA copy priced lower than I’d like. It’s priced at $45. It’s only $5 below my preferred price, so I’ll probably just match it.
Now, where is the repricer to which you can say: “If the SKU indicates its a textbook, and it’s rank is lower than 30,000, and there are less than 6 offers priced less than $40 below the lowest merchant-fulfilled offer, ignore all of them and price at $40 higher, unless there is an FBA offer within 10% of my desired price, then match that one.”
The truth is, this repricer probably exists. I’m just so pleasantly ignorant (and impatient) about
(I should mention here that my absolute biggest blindspot in managing my
For now, I’m pricing my textbooks manually.
How to make repricing 1000x easier next semester
The answer is: Code your SKUs. Every time you list a textbook, denote this in the SKU. That way, when you go back and reprice, you can filter by this SKU and see all your textbooks at a glance. Much, much easier.
How do I do it? I put the word “textbook” at the front of every SKU. Pretty simple.
The first time I priced a penny textbook at $25, I didn’t really think it would sell. It seemed outrageously irrational for anyone to pay over 6 times more just to get that second-day shipping. But the book sold, and sold fast.
What I learned is: It doesn’t matter what I would do, or even what I think other people would do. All that matters is what works.
As I’ve been repricing over the last week, I’ve found that I have very, very few textbooks that I had in my inventory a year ago. Nearly all of them sold, even at my “outrageous” prices.
People will pay way, way more for your FBA offers, especially with textbooks. You just have to let them.
Fall semester is here and sand is pouring through the hourglass. Start repricing…. now.