Three categories of profitable books to sell on Amazon that most sellers overlook: A guide to weird books most sellers don’t know are profitable
It seems like most Amazon booksellers focus on obviously profitable book categories, and miss many less-obvious ones.
Here are three types of books most FBA sellers overlook…
Overlooked profitable books to sell on Amazon #1: Old math books
What? Math books?! Hold on, let me explain…
There is one thing that separates math from nearly every other subject. And believe it or not, it never occurred to me until a thrift store volunteer, of all people, explained it to me. This is what she told me:
Math is the only subject that is virtually timeless. An equation, algorithm, or theorem is as true today as it was in 200 BC. You can’t say this about nearly any other subject. There are advances in architecture, biology, and even archeology that renders books in these categories obsolete every few years. Not so with math.
Since getting this small dose of knowledge, I began to give attention to seemingly old and “obsolete” math books. And I’ve been very surprised by the results. A hugely disproportionate amount of the time, these are profitable books to sell on Amazon.
Major caveat: I am not referring to math textbooks. Textbooks become obsolete for reasons other than their content. Old textbooks are always low value on Amazon, and low demand.
What I am talking about is higher-level advanced math books. Rule of thumb: If it’s on the subject of math, and you can’t easily pronounce one or more words in the title, it’s worth money on Amazon.
Overlooked profitable book #2: Old books on university presses
As an Amazon seller, you’ll see “university press” books fairly consistently (depending on where you source): These generally take the form of old hardcover books, often without dustjackets or barcodes (often without ISBNs), published by “University of _____ Press.” These are generally on some super-obscure subject, and seem too old and weird to bother with.
When looking for profitable books to sell on Amazon, it’s very convenient to avoid anything without a barcode. Most sellers dismiss these as too old to still have value. I would recommend that approach with nearly every book category except university press titles.
Its even easier to dismiss a book without a dustjacket. When I’m book sourcing, I often find myself subconsciously skipping over any hardcovers without a dustjacket. But university press titles are one book category where this assumption will cost you.
Two reasons old university press books hold their value on Amazon:
- These are often so niche, they are often the only books ever published on a particular subject. This is what university presses specialize in: Weird weird weird subjects that only a few hundred people in the whole world care about. Check the latest offerings from the University of Nebraska Press, for example. Any scholars of “native american environmentalism” in the house? If you want a book on these subjects, you have to buy it from a university press. There is just no other option.
- The market is not flooded with used copies. I have a friend who has published a half-dozen books on university presses, and he told me it’s completely average for a university press title to only sell only few hundred copies. Then they go out of print. And for the rest of human history, if anyone wants a copy, they have to buy yours on Amazon for $99.99 (that’s my general default price for old books for which I am the only seller.)
Overlooked profitable book #3: Bestsellers bundled as sets
I’m going to be vague on specifics here. Read between the lines of this section, and you’ll make big money from this.
There are many book series’ that are abundantly common anywhere there are used books, and have no value on Amazon when sold individually. Yet I buy them anyway, because of one trick I learned:
I can buy these “cheap, worthless” books, wait until I have a complete set, and then sell the set at a price much higher than the sum of its parts.
In other words, there are books that are profitable to sell on Amazon only when bundled together as a set.
There are several series I do this with consistently – books that wouldn’t even net you 50 cents on Amazon if sold individually, yet will bring $25+ when sold as sets. As I covered in an article on my trick for making more money with books on eBay than Amazon, people are willing to pay you for doing their work. In this case, aggregating the books into a complete set.
Keep your eyes open, and you’ll start to see what I mean.
Always question your assumptions on what books are most profitable to sell on Amazon. There is a ton of money in what other FBA sellers overlook.