Should you sell Amazon FBA or Merchant Fulfilled?

Welcome back to Book Flipper University. We’re almost through the nitty gritty of the setup  section, and are so close to getting you out into the field looking for profitable books! Today’s session is will help you navigate the two main fulfillment options on Amazon. 


To kick off today’s segment, let’s cover the three most common acronyms you’ll see in today’s segment, and throughout Book Flipper University:  

MF: Merchant Fulfilled

FBA: Fulfilled by Amazon

LTSF: Long Term Storage Fees


There are two key fulfillment options, Merchant Fulfilled and Fulfilled by Amazon. You can already probably guess the key difference by reading the names, but we’re going to take you deeper into the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is best for your business. 

Merchant Fulfilled (MF): You, the merchant, list, store, and ship the books. Whether you’re shipping out of your warehouse or your home office, you are responsible for shipping orders to your customers. 

The process of Merchant Fulfillment is:

  1. List a book on Amazon
  2. Store the book until it sells
  3. After sale, package it, purchase postage, and ship it to the customer within a day or two

Pros of Merchant Fulfilled:

  • You have more control over your items
  • No Amazon fulfillment or storage fees

Cons of Merchant Fulfilled:

  • Tied to a location: if you’re out of town, or away from your storage facility, someone still has to be on-location to ship orders
  • You’re responsible for your own storage
  • You must ship orders as they come in, which can distract you from other business tasks
  • Lower selling prices

Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA): You list your books and then send them to Amazon, they process them, and then handle storing and shipping the items to customers. This is the system that powers Amazon Prime, making it possible for shoppers to receive their orders within two business days. 

The process of Fulfilled by Amazon is:

  1. List a book on Amazon
  2. Ship that book (with others in the batch) to an Amazon warehouse
  3. Amazon stores the book until it sells
  4. After sale, Amazon ships the book to the customer with free 2-day shipping

Pros of Fulfilled by Amazon:

  • Location independent: no matter where you are, Amazon is handling fulfillment so you don’t need to worry about shipping orders
  • Higher selling prices from Prime buyers

Cons of Fulfilled by Amazon:

  • Less control over your items: Amazon will inevitably lose and/or damage some of your items and while they’ll reimburse you, it won’t be very much
  • Higher fees and you have to pay for storage. Long term storage fees (LTSF)  apply after six months of storage


We mentioned Amazon fees and storage a few times in the section above, so now we’re going to dive into what those are to help you determine which fulfillment option is right for you. We’ll also get further into this when we progress to our sourcing segment, but for now here are the fundamentals to get you started. 

Whether you choose MF or FBA, you’ll pay Amazon a $1.80 media category fee per book, as well as a final value fee of 15%. If you go with FBA, you’ll also pay $0.20 to $0.40 per pound to ship your items to Amazon (depending on where you live) and storage fees of around $0.02 per item, per month. 

Now, let’s take a look at a few examples using an FBA calculator (you can find the one we’re using HERE, or Google FBA calculator)

First, let’s calculate MF versus FBA on a half-pound book, like a standard romance novel. 

Revenue and Selling on Amazon fees: Amazon will calculate their fees based off of total revenue. If the item is Merchant Fulfilled, it includes your shipping price. You can also factor shipping costs into the item price, and offer free shipping (in this example, we’d just list the item for $10). For FBA, shipping is listed as zero because of Amazon Prime. 

Fulfillment Cost: This factors in your shipping costs. For Merchant Fulfilled on items less than one pound, it will cost you $2.66 to ship this book via media mail. On FBA, the fulfillment fee includes the cost to have an Amazon warehouse employee handle that item, pulling and shipping it. 

In this example, you’ll earn a 1% higher profit by selecting FBA. 

Next, let’s look at a slightly heavier book at the same $10 price point. 

While you’ll pay the same amount in Amazon seller fees, the heavier weight raised the FBA fees as well as the cost to ship to Amazon. In this scenario, you’d make a few dollars extra selling MF.

Initially you may be thinking that you shouldn’t sell heavier books on Amazon. But let’s take a closer look. Usually, you’ll earn a few extra dollars—sometimes more than just a few—by fulfilling FBA because of Amazon Prime. Because people are paying for Prime and its fast shipping, buyers are more likely to purchase your product if it’s available on Prime. 

On the back end, there are fewer sellers using FBA which means less competition. Amazon also prioritizes Prime items in the buy box, so shoppers will see your item first, even if it’s priced higher than other MF items. Because of these factors, it’s not uncommon to raise the prices for Prime by a few dollars. Let’s put this into action:

As you can see, by raising the price of the Prime item by $2.50, you’ll earn a few more cents through FBA than by opting for the lower-priced MF option. 

Now, let’s apply this little insider tip to an example with a heavy 4-pound book, such as a textbook. On MF, a book like this is typically priced around $15. If it’s FBA, it’ll be closer to $25. Now, let’s run the numbers:

By fulfilling with Amazon and charging an additional $10 for the book, you’d almost double the profits you would have received going MF. 

Now that you understand more about the listing types, take some time to consider what’s best for you and your business. Some businesses, such as ourselves, prefer to sell strictly FBA. We personally enjoy the FBA system as it has alleviated a lot of the pressure of fulfilling orders, which gives us more time to source new books or invest in other areas of our business. Other businesses may prefer MF. Keep in mind, you can also do a hybrid of both! If you have certain books you’d prefer to list only MF or FBA, you can certainly do that. 

We hope this segment helped you understand the basics of the two key fulfillment types, and we hope to have you back for the next lesson in Book Flipper University on sourcing books to sell on Amazon.


This week’s video: 

Book Flipper Blog:​

Book Flipper Facebook Group:​

Free Listing Spreadsheet:​

Tracking Spreadsheet:​

The Book Scouting App I Use:​

My Online Arbitrage Tool:​

The 100 Book Challenge:​

The Listing Software I Use:​

Box Level Contents Spreadsheet:​

Scouting Tools I Use (scanner, printer, etc):

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