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Amazon Advantage vs Amazon Seller Central (Marketplace)—An FAQ

Hoca

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‍Amazon offers multiple programs for selling books, the most popular and well-known being Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). But since this is only print-on-demand (POD), how does a self-publisher or small press sell books on Amazon if they’ve already printed books in bulk, or even in small quantities?

There are two choices:

  1. Amazon Advantage, Amazon’s bookselling program for publishers—new print books only.
  2. Amazon Seller Central, a selling service for anyone with a print book—new or used.

This article delves into both programs, explaining their features, differences, and suitability for specific needs.

Understanding Amazon Advantage​


Designed for publishers and producers of physical media, the Amazon Advantage program works on a consignment model. In this arrangement, your book becomes a part of Amazon’s inventory. When a customer purchases your book, they pay Amazon, and Amazon takes care of the shipping and customer service. If the shopper is a Prime member, your book is shipped via Prime.

The cost of Advantage​


Amazon Advantage charges an annual fee of $99. Further, Amazon pays you 45% of the list price for each book sold, akin to the terms of selling your book in a brick-and-mortar bookstore. It’s crucial to remember that you will need to bear the cost of shipping books to Amazon’s warehouse.

Marketing and perception with Advantage​


As an Advantage member, your book is marketed and recommended to readers in a similar manner as other books on Amazon, leveraging Amazon’s powerful intrasite marketing programs. Moreover, customers cannot distinguish between a book offered through the Advantage consignment program and any other book offered by Amazon, thereby lending a professional sheen to your book’s online presence. However, pricing control is relinquished to Amazon, which can set the price as long as you are paid your wholesale price.

Amazon seller central-Amazon Advantage-ships from Amazon-sold by Amazon-product detail page

Understanding Amazon Seller Central (Marketplace)​


In contrast, with the Amazon Seller Central program, also known as the Marketplace, you act as the retailer, essentially advertising your book on Amazon. When a customer buys your book, Amazon holds the payment while you ship the order to the customer.

An alternative to you doing the shipping is using Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon, FBA. With FBA, you ship books to an Amazon warehouse and Amazon fulfills customer orders, thus making your book available for Prime shipping.

As the publisher, you do not “own” or control your book’s Amazon sales page when using Seller Central. You are competing with anyone that has a copy of your book.

The Cost of Seller Central/Marketplace​


Amazon Seller Central has two programs: Individual and Professional.

  • The individual plan charges $0.99 per item, plus 15% of the item’s price (referral fee), plus a closing fee of $1.80 per book. Importantly, Amazon provides a reimbursement of shipping fees according to a schedule.
  • The professional plan has several marketing and selling features designed for those selling 40 or more books per month. The monthly charge is $39.99. The referral fee of 15% and closing fee of $1.80 apply here as well, as does the reimbursement of shipping fees.

Marketing and perception with Seller Central​


While using Seller Central, your book is shown to shoppers when they search for it. However, even though you are the publisher, your book will be displayed as available from a third-party seller, which might not be as appealing to some customers. On the bright side, with Seller Central, you retain control over your book’s pricing, which can be critical if you wish to maintain consistent pricing for your distributors.

Comparison of Seller Central/Marketplace vs. Amazon Advantage​


Seller Central/MarketplaceAmazon Advantage
Acceptance into programVirtually anyonePublisher must apply
Selling costsTwo plans: $0.99 per item sold or $39.99/month. Plus: 15% of book price and $1.80 per item sold. Shipping costs to customer reimbursed by Amazon.Annual charge of $99. Publisher receives 45% of the list price, which publisher sets.
Shipping to customerSeller ships or FBAAmazon ships; no charge to publisher
Shipping to AmazonAmazon pays if using FBAPublisher pays
Return of inventory stored at AmazonN/A if seller is shipping; seller pays if using FBAPublisher pays
Customer serviceSeller unless using FBAAmazon
Product-detail-page book descriptionControlled by Amazon; seller’s descriptions may not be usedControlled by publisher
A+ ContentNot availableAvailable
List book for pre-orderNot availableAvailable
Setting book pricesSeller controls the book’s price; Amazon cannot discount.Publisher chooses price, but Amazon can discount.
Perception“Ships from [seller name]” and “Sold by [seller name].” If using FBA: “Ships from Amazon.com” and “Sold by [seller name].”“Ships from Amazon.com” and “Sold by Amazon.com” messaging on the product detail page.


Disclaimer: This information is subject to change at any time. We’ve provided links to these programs so readers can research current terms, rules, and offers. If you wish to discuss your specific circumstances, we offer consultations.

What’s best for you?​


The choice between Amazon Advantage and Seller Central truly depends on your reseller relationships and objectives. While Seller Central might offer a higher margin, it could appear less professional, and you have limited control over your book’s listing information. Advantage, on the other hand, might erode your control over pricing and could potentially strain other retailer relationships.

It is exceptionally rare for traditional and hybrid publishers to use Seller Central. Self-publishers who are not using POD, on the other hand, often consider both. Amazon Advantage was closed to new publishers for several years and it reopened in the fall of 2023.

A recent success story is that of the author-publisher team behind The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies, The Lost Ways, and The Holistic Guide to Wellness, all of which made the Hot Sheet Bestseller List (Nov. 2023) based on sales made through Seller Central, rather than through Advantage.

Other considerations​

  • Both programs require your book to have a legally registered ISBN.
  • You must apply to be granted an Advantage account; applicants are not automatically accepted.
  • With Seller Central’s marketplace, Amazon monitors your shipping performance to ensure customers receive their orders promptly.

Do you have more questions about self-published book distribution?​


AuthorImprints offers a full range of book distribution options for self-publishers. Contact us about your forthcoming book.
 
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