Myths, rumors and (some) encouraging truths about the future of selling DVDs on Amazon.
Everyone wants to know: What’s the deal with selling DVDs on Amazon?
This article is to clear up the misconceptions about what sellers believe about whether you can or can’t sell DVDs on Amazon.
Bad news is that some of what’s being said is true.
Good news is that one of the biggest rumors isn’t.
Let’s get into it…
Some background: Are DVDs a gated category on Amazon?
Sometime in the fall of 2015, Amazon announced that all of it’s sellers would have to apply to sell certain DVDs (or all of them, depending on if you were a new seller).
After years of being an “ungated” category, DVDs went the way of clothing and jewelry, and became a private club for the elite who Amazon granted permission.
Although, it didn’t become entirely gated. Only “partially gated.” Amazon didn’t kick everyone out, and didn’t prevent them from selling all DVDs.
Here were the changes, that remain in place today:
- Amazon sellers who had not sold any DVDs on Amazon between September 2013 and September 2014 had to request to sell any DVD, of any price.
- Sellers who had sold DVDs on Amazon during this period only had to apply to sell DVDs with a Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail Price of over $25. They continued to be allowed to sell everything else.
Why did Amazon restrict DVDs out of nowhere?
Amazon isn’t exactly telling the story, but basically there were tons of bootleg DVDs being sold on Amazon. So the lawyers from the major studios flexed their muscles on Amazon to intervene.
No one really knows what went on behind closed doors, but Amazon was sufficiently scared enough to forfeit a huge amount in 3rd party sale commissions and capitulate to the movie studio’s demands. They reached some kind of agreement, and DVDs with an MSRP over $25 were the casualty.
One thing I know: It would be foolish to say Amazon did something wrong here. One, they’re among the smartest companies in the world. Two, we don’t know any of the factors that led to this decision. Three, everything in business is just a cost / benefit analysis, and as far as Amazon’s interests go, every decision they make is a smart decision. So any editorializing on our part is pointless, and probably wrong.
My journey through the Amazon DVD mess
I got the Amazon alert like everyone else, asking for three invoices from a legitimate DVD distributor as evidence that I was selling “real” DVDs on Amazon (and not counterfeit). I was grandfathered in with all DVDs having an MSRP under $25, but for anything over that… Amazon blacklisted me.
Fortunately. I had these invoices, submitted them to Amazon, and was approved within a day. Problem solved.
It was smooth sailing for about two months.
Then sometime in January, I got another alert from Amazon. They changed their mind. Amazon wanted more invoices or I wasn’t allowed to sell the $25+ MSRP DVDs.
This time, I decided I wasn’t playing their game. Three things were clear to me:
- Amazon was making all of this up as they went.
- I wasn’t going to reward Amazon’s capriciousness by jumping through yet another hoop.
- The entire DVD category on Amazon was a mess.
So that’s it. I had 40 or so DVD listings that immediately went dark. (If you want them, you can find them for sale on eBay.)
I don’t know if everyone got this repeat-demand for another round of DVD-order invoices. Maybe I did something wrong. But it didn’t affect enough of my Amazon inventory for me to want to engage in an endless dance with Amazon. So I bowed out.
Where does that leave us? The DVD category on Amazon is an ever-evolving disaster. It may get better, it may get worse. But right now… I’m not touching it. (That is, for anything with an MSRP over $25)
But there’s good news
A lot of Amazon sellers aren’t very sensitive to details. Or they just like spreading doom and gloom on the internet. Whatever the case, some of what you’re hearing about selling DVDs on Amazon is probably false. Read on, because Rumor #2 is a huge one…
False rumor #1: You can’t sell DVDs without approval
True and false. If you are a new seller, you do have to get approval to sell any DVDs on Amazon.
Everyone else is grandfathered in (if you pay for the Amazon Professional Selling Plan,as anyone who does any volume should).
In theory, getting approval should be allowed for anyone who places wholesale orders of DVDs from a legit distributor, and presents them to Amazon.
In practice, the actual criteria appears to be fuzzier and more capricious than that. As my current situation is evidence of.
False rumor #2: You cannot sell DVDs for more than $25 on Amazon
No. No. NO.
Almost all Amazon sellers are getting this wrong at the moment.
I can’t say it enough times: Almost everything everyone says on any internet Amazon seller forum / Facebook group / anything anywhere is wrong.
Here is the truth:
You can sell any DVD on Amazon for any price, unless the publisher has set a “Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price” of more than $25.
What does that mean? I don’t know, but I know it applies to relatively few DVDs on Amazon.
This restriction only affects DVDs that the producer somehow communicated to Amazon have a “suggested retail price.” A ton (most?) films that are not put out by a big film company don’t do this.
What’s better, most larger film companies compete on price, and don’t price their DVDs above $25 – unless they are box sets. (Criterion Collection DVDs, unfortunately, are one exception.)
So this should not profoundly affect the average inventory for the average Amazon seller.
Why you can still sell (most) DVDs on Amazon
- Many if not most DVDs do not have an MSRP.
- You can sell a DVD with no MSRP for any price.
- Most DVDs that do have an MSRP, have it sent below $25.
- Therefore you can sell most DVDs on Amazon
- If you are restricted from selling DVDs of any price, I’m hearing its fairly easy to get approved.
When Amazon brought the hammer down, well under 50% of the DVDs I had priced over $25 were affected. Why? Because they didn’t have an MSRP. The DVDs weren’t made by Warner Brothers. They weren’t made by Sony. These were niche DVDs from boutique production companies, and they were unaffected.
This should be encouraging for most people selling DVDs on Amazon.
To end on a high note: If you’re hearing rumors that you cannot sell DVDs for more than $25, someone better alert Amazon. Because the facts (and my inventory) tells a much different story.
So go ahead with investing in that used copy of the Building Psychic Rapport With Dolphins DVD, and listing it on Amazon for $100. You’re fine.