10 Things Author-Publishers Should Know About Amazon Advantage
Advantage is for traditionally printed books and works differently than POD. 10 things you need to know; 8 important FAQs; 5 biggest complaints we hear; other options.

10 Things Author-Publishers Should Know About Amazon Advantage

Amazon Advantage is a book and media product consignment program that enables publishers to sell new books printed by any printer. This is not unlike a brick and mortar bookstore ordering your book—you don’t get paid until your book sells, and if it doesn’t, the bookstore (Amazon in this case) can return it for full credit.

You’ll want to use Amazon Advantage to sell traditionally printed books when print-on-demand (POD) using KDP or IngramSpark isn’t the best choice. For example:

  • You want better and more consistent quality than what POD offers
  • You want the lower cost of manufacturing that comes with printing in bulk
  • You want the freedom to choose paper, binding, dimensions, and ink that is not available, or too expensive, when using POD

Are there alternatives to Amazon Advantage? Apart from Amazon’s Seller Central, there are few other options readily available for self-publishers—really, any publisher—to sell new books on Amazon unless they have a sales track record that can attract a distributor. (More on this under FAQs and additional resources.)

If you have already printed books, or you are considering bulk printing (a traditional print run), you must understand what is involved in selling those books on Amazon using the Advantage program.

Note: the Advantage program is used to sell new physical media products such as books, CDs, and DVDs. This article focuses on selling books but much of the information also applies to selling other media products.

10 things self-publishers need to know about using Amazon Advantage

  1. Amazon Advantage is for selling new print books which you have already printed, and you must be the publisher.
  2. You receive 45% of the book’s retail price, which you set and control.
  3. You must apply to join the Amazon Advantage program. Acceptance is not automatic or guaranteed and it takes one to two weeks for your application to be reviewed. If accepted, the cost is $99 per year regardless of the number of books you sell (up from $29.95 per year in 2016).
  4. The Advantage program is country specific. For example, to sell books on Amazon.com in the US, you need a US address, a US bank account, and the rights to sell your book in North America. As of 2024, there are seven other Advantage programs: Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Each of these has similar requirements and you must apply to each individually to sell books in these countries.
  5. You pay the cost to ship books to the Amazon warehouse of Amazon’s choice.
  6. You can send only as many books as Amazon orders. So, for example, if you print 2,000 copies you must store those books until Amazon orders them.
  7. You can list your book for pre-order.
  8. Your books are “sold and shipped by Amazon,” which means customers who are members of Prime receive free shipping.
  9. Your book’s product detail page on Amazon can look the same as a book distributed by a major publisher. No one can tell the difference. For example, you can use A+ content to add visual details about your book.
  10. You can pay Amazon to get people to review your book. (More on this program, called Amazon Vine, below.)
Amazon Advantage self-published book vs traditional published book buy box

Important FAQs about Amazon Advantage

AuthorImprints has been managing Advantage accounts for self-publishers and our own books since 2011. In addition to the above details, here are the answers to several important questions we often hear from self-publishers new to book selling.

Why does Amazon pay publishers only 45% of the book’s retail price and keep 55%?

A 55% discount is a standard discount in the book business and not unique to Amazon Advantage. For example, if you use IngramSpark, the minimum discount—the amount of money a retailer gets for selling your book—is 40% of the selling price. If you want bookstores to order your book, you must offer a discount of 53–55% and make the book returnable.

The Amazon Advantage terms are essentially the same as those you would offer a retailer if using IngramSpark.

Can I, or how do I stop Amazon from discounting my book?

As the retailer, Amazon decides the selling price—not unlike any other retailer selling most non-book products. If they do discount your book, you still get 45% of the retail price, a price you control.

See the alternatives below for another option that allows you to control your retail price.

Can I ship all the books I print to Amazon Advantage?

No. You send only the number of books they ask for. If your book is in demand, they will order more copies. If they have too many copies, they will return them based on their internal inventory management algorithms.

Be sure to see the heading below: The biggest complaints we hear about using Amazon Advantage.

Does Amazon Advantage make your book available to be ordered by bookstores or other retailers?

No. The program is only for selling new books in a specific Amazon country store such as Amazon.com for the United States. If you want to make your books available to independent bookstores, Bookshop.org, and Barnes & Noble, for example, you need to get your book listed in Ingram’s iPage system or some other book ordering wholesale system used by retailers, libraries, and schools.

Can you use Amazon Advantage to sell print-on-demand (POD) books?

Yes, however you need to print those copies and then ship them to Amazon per the terms of the Advantage program.

Why would you do this? Perhaps you want to ensure the copies being sent to customers are of the highest quality possible. POD quality is inconsistent so by ordering copies you can inspect them and return poor quality books to the manufacturer. This is obviously more expensive and time consuming, but it’s a solution, nonetheless.

Can Amazon send additional items with an order, such as bookmarks?

No, unless you pre-package those as part of the book.

What is Amazon Vine?

Amazon Vine is a program that invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post customer reviews of products, in this case, books. They receive the book free—at your expense—in return for leaving an honest review. The cost to you is $1,750 per book, and you must be registered in Amazon Brand Registry.

We’ve seen Vine product listings and rarely are books included—which is no wonder, considering the expense.

Is Amazon Seller Central an alternative to Amazon Advantage?

The primary alternative to Amazon Advantage is Amazon Seller Central, sometimes known as Marketplace.

Seller Central can be used to sell new or used books. But you are competing with anyone else selling your book. You may decide your book’s price, but not the information on the product detail page as you do with Amazon Advantage. See our article comparing the features of Seller Central vs. Advantage under additional resources.

The 5 biggest complains we hear from self-publishers about using Amazon Advantage

  1. Multiple ship-to locations. Amazon has more than 100 fulfillment centers in the United States alone. This can make it challenging for a self-publisher with one or just a few books to manage. One day you might get an order to send three books to location X, and two days later to send one book to location Y. You need to ship those ASAP because Amazon gives you a window during which they expect the books. Your performance in this regard is measured and scored and your account may be penalized, or worse.
  2. Damaged books. You must make sure the books are packaged such that they arrive undamaged and in pristine condition. Any damaged books—even a bent corner on the cover—may result in the book being returned, and at your expense.
  3. Let’s say your book has a lot of pre-orders, or there is a sudden surge of orders. Amazon’s inventory algorithm will ask you to ship them books based on their forecast of customer demand. If demand falls off and they decide they have too much inventory, they start returning books. Again, this is at your expense, and worse: returns can dribble in over the course of time rather than all at once.
  4. Storing inventory. You most likely printed an inventory of books so now you need a place to store them while waiting for orders.
  5. Shipping costs. Most self-publishers don’t have the shipping volumes to qualify for shipping discounts. USPS Media Mail rates are usually the only way to preserve a profit margin. But delivery dates are hard to predict, and vary, so this method of shipping may not get the books there in time (see #1 above). Shipping costs can quickly erode anticipated profits.

Other options

We specialize in helping self-published authors make their books available for retailers, including Amazon. You won’t need an Amazon Advantage account and we may also be able to make your book available for libraries, schools, and brick and mortar bookstores to order, as well as international distribution.

Please contact us for information.

Additional resources

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

21 thoughts on “10 Things Author-Publishers Should Know About Amazon Advantage”

  1. I am done with Advantage for CD sales. Cancelling my account today. CD sales are dying out compared to digital sales anyway. Not gonna give Amazon $99 when I’m owed $100 AND Amazon already pockets 55% or even more if they feel like it.

  2. Jim is entirely correct. The required 55% discount is insult enough. Add to that the need to pay shipping to Amazon and now add the $99 annual fee, the program makes no sense to independent publishers. We’re signing out.

  3. One of my clients wanted her book in a large independent bookstore. A single location. The terms were a 50% discount and we had to ship them the books, and pay a “stocking fee” of $35. If they didn’t sell after a year we could pay to ship them back, or they would destroy them.

  4. I’m losing money using Advantage Amazon! I would like to know what method of selling through Amazon that gives them a bit of a profit with physical books. Open to suggestions!

  5. I was just about to sign on Amazon Advantage for Books when I read your report.
    Now I’m having another think.

    I have categories but no browsenodes on my books according to ‘BrowseNodes.Jadebox.com’ Would this block sales on Amazon Advantage?

    Thanks for your info. John Coffey

  6. All publishers have the same issue and it has nothing to do with Amazon. If you want to sell your book in any bookstore, be prepared to give up at least 40 to 55% of your retail price. Otherwise sell direct from your website.

  7. Block sales to Amazon? I don’t understand your question. When you list a book on Amazon via Advantage, you choose categories where it is listed. You don’t need to know anything about browsenodes.

  8. Michael G. Harpold

    I self-published my latest book and this time decided to do my own distribution, including Amazon. In the past two weeks, I’ve gotten four orders, each for one or two copies to be mailed to one or the other of their fulfillment centers. Monday, I got orders for 9 books to be mailed to 6 different places. Since I have to use priority mail, the cost is killing me, reducing my royalty to as little as 85 cents. A friend suggested that since I own the rights that I publish again using Amazon’s Create Space and POD, thus eliminating shipping costs. Is that possible?

  9. Yes, that is possible assuming you have the necessary files to upload and a great solution. I also suggest that you contact Advantage via their customer support and explain your situation as you did here. I know they have been sensitive to this situation in the past so perhaps they can make a change at their end.

  10. re browsenodes: re my comment of June 11 –

    I have 2 books on Amazon

    I checked their ‘browsenode’ status on: ‘BrowseNodes.Jadebox.com

    This told me neither book had ‘browsenodes’

    I checked other books and they all had ‘browsenodes’

    My books are simple novels of no pretensions.

    Can you suggest what my books lack.
    Many thanks


  11. I did the math on 1,000 books @ list $59 each:
    – Cost of using Amazon advantage = $32,550 (mainly from 55% fee)
    – Cost of using Amazon MarketPlace with Amazon fulfillment (via the revenue calculator) = $15,700
    So the cost of using Advantage is about double that of MarketPlace.
    What am I missing? Why would anyone use Advantage?

  12. With Advantage you control your listing. Marketplace is essentially like selling on Ebay. You are right that it is better financially. Also keep in mind that 55% is what you get when selling through any book wholesaler, not just Amazon.

  13. Does anyone know when OR if Amazon Advantage is coming back?
    I really wanted to use that platform to sell my hardcover

  14. I lost my OTP phone number. Please how can i override the OTP as amazon uk advantage has not been able to help me. Any direct phone number for the advantage team please?

  15. Sandra Sutherland

    I sent two batches (+-15) new books (2021) to Advantage as ordered. They were each individually shrink-wrapped. One by one they came back, unopened. I have NO understanding of why they would order them, then return them. Any insight on this?

  16. It is all software driven. Their might have been good sales but they didn’t continue.

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