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.
Great information as always! Thanks
Patrick G says
I was half way through the process to get ungated in DVD’s
Amazon requested I gather “larger qtys to sell ”
While ordering and waiting for my “larger qty ” orders to arrive
The entire DVD category was shut down
I called Amazon told them I had just bought 100’s of DVD as they requested. The did not care told me the DVD category was shut down.. They are correct…If is not even listed anymore as a section to apply for approval in.
So they are on e bay same as yours sell one once in a while..
Looked into Half.com that is not a place for 3rd party sellers they give everything away an that site no chance for profit.
Just finished reading Blind profits great read .
Keep up the good work always enjoy reading everything you write.
Thanks for everything you have taught me so far
Peter Valley says
Just double-checked, because my info might be a couple weeks old, but at least as far as Amazon’s public statement on this, they are still accepting requests for approval:
Can you post what they sent to you so others can see?
Thanks for the great info. Seems like most of the suspensions I’ve heard about in the last couple of years have been related to DVD sellers. I’ve started being very careful about what I list, and have pretty much stopped sending any DVDs to FBA. It’s good to get the facts. The Amazon forums are such a zoo and can leave one more confused than ever at time. Thanks for clearing up some of the misinformation.
I applied this week using a reputable wholesale supplier that supplies thousands of Amazon sellers with dvds. They rejected all my invoices. They said that they had new criteria for approving invoices which they could not reveal to sellers for legal reasons. I made several inquiries and received the same answer from three different reps. Most of the dvds I purchased met the under $25 msrp criteria. I’m selling the rest on Ebay and waiting for the dust to settle. I fully expect Amazon to send out an email clarifying the new guidelines in the near future. After all, they want to make money.
Peter Valley says
This is my experience, and everything I’m hearing. They realized it was too “easy” to get approved using orders from wholesalers, and tightened the restrictions further. I think they’re watching Amazon forums, listening to whatever loopholes people are recommending there, and rejecting applications that follow this advice wholesale (no pun intended). More reason to avoid the crowds and find your own way in through the side door.
I produce my own instructional and documentary DVDs. Some have been broadcast on PBS in the U.S. I had been selling them for $31.99 on another Amazon account that I have since closed. I opened a new seller account and Amazon won’t allow me to sell MY OWN independently produced DVDs – even though they are pressed and packaged professionally by DiscMakers. I had to lower my MSRP from $31.99 to $24.99 to get past the gatekeepers. For successful niche DVDs that I produced. They are available to stream on Amazon Prime, though – fun.
Larry Pike says
Robert – I am late to the FBA party. Have been producing how-to DVD’s since 2002 and finally decided to sell them on Amazon in Feb 2016. What a nightmare of hoop jumping and endless non-info. At this point, should I… A) give up on FBA and just sell my inventory off via other channels or B) is there some way to get Amazon to allow me to sell my own DVD’s and CD’s via FBA? Just want to know if I am spinning my wheels.
Robert–I don’t know how this might affect other factors in your business model, but in my experience, buyers don’t give a rip about MSRP. The price is the price, is the price. What the price once was supposed to be (or vaguely imagined to be) has no bearing on sales.
As to selling DVDs for more than $25, sellers still often don’t get it. I tried explaining it in the Amazon forum, but got a lot of push-back from people telling me I was wrong. Peter does a much better job of explaining it, but my bet would be that they would argue with him, too.
Meanwhile, I’m still selling DVDs all the time for $40-70, with occasional spikes. If that’s ‘doing it wrong,’ I don’t know what else to say!
Peter Valley says
Just to also clarify, if you’ve been grandfathered in to sell DVDs with MSRPs under $25, you don’t need a professional seller account. I had been casually selling off my kid’s old DVDs in the right time period and was grandfathered in because of that. I’m not quite up to the point where it makes sense to get the professional account. And, yes, there are DVDs out there that have appreciated well over their original MSRP.
Does the same information apply to CD’s? I used to sell CD’s on Amazon a few years ago, but have been inactive since 2015.
evan bates says
if anyone has an amazon seller account they want to sell and that is ungated to sell in the dvd category, please contact me at [email protected] with your asking price.
John Pratt Booker says
I only have a few sets of DVD’s all of them in redline category. That said, the author is a very fun writer. and that is always worth the time. Oh … and the information? … revelatory.
My son sold off his video game store on Az & eBay and all that’s left is 3000 movies. I tried finding him a un-gating service for DVD’s and found one that quoted $1200 plus supplies (product bought for invoices) is this reasonable or even worth it? Any guesses as to how much the product will be that she’s talking about?
they don’t do anything you can’t do for yourself. Check out http://www.mountainviewmovies.com/sell_dvds_on_amazon
Larry Sparks says
I am confused. I tried to list used DVD’s last fall and was firmly rejected. Most would have been in the $10-20 range. In reading all of the above, I don’t know whether I should apply again or take them all to Goodwill…
jules rosen says
Amazon Sucks – no reasons given – no help given . MY OWN DAMN PRODUCED DVDS
I got ungated for DVD’s & CD’s at the same time through Christian Books. Total cost was less than $25
Peter Valley says
Is that an ungating service?