My Take On The eBay Digital Item Restrictions

My Take On The eBay Digital Item Restrictions

So, the end of the world is nigh, from March 31st eBay are to ban you from listing any digital item that is sent to the buyer in the form of a download link.

As you can imagine there has been an immense amount of backlash towards eBay from hundreds, if not thousands of eBay sellers and I’ve been lurking around taking in all sides of the coin. I also came across this on my travels which I couldn’t resist posting – full credit to “krazzykats” on the eBay forum who originally posted the image below:

eBay Dress Code

I’m not going to be giving you a rant on the rights and wrongs of the decision, but what I am going to do with you today is to show you how you can continue to sell your eBooks on eBay, and how it could open the door to an endless amount of new income streams and opportunities.

For my first piece of advice, I’m going to do something that I haven’t done before:

(now imagine some spooky music has just been played)

I’d imagine that 99% of you will know who John is, but for those who don’t – John is the ultimate eBay eBook seller and to work within the new rules, John is advising you to ship the eBooks on a CD – which I agree with. What I don’t agree with is this comment on Johns blog he posted today: (Click here to see what i’m disagreeing with)

“First of all I know the automation side of things disappear, I know you can use fulfillment services but for me personally I wouldn’t do it. I need to be in full control of my eBay business.”

The first thing John mentions is that the automation side of things disappears, but I don’t agree, and here’s why.

It’s now (or will be on March 31st) illegal to send buyers any download link for the product they purchased via email, but it’s not illegal to use your digital delivery scripts to send notification to the buyer once they have paid – all it takes is a quick edit of the email template that gets sent out and you are in business.

How does something like this sound:

“Dear Bob Smith,

Many thanks for purchasing Dan’s Guide On Taming Shrews With Attitude Problems, your CD is currently making it’s way towards the comfy cardboard delivery sleeve and will be waiting for you on your door mat within the next 5 days.

We appreciate that these 5 days will be a tough wait for you. So in the meantime, how would you like to get your hands on 5 free eBooks as a thankyou for your custom:

We would love to deal with you again, we couldn’t have asked for a nicer customer!

Many Thanks,
Dan The Friendly eBay Seller”

With your CD’s taking around 5 days to arrive, there is a window of opportunity there waiting for you to use to your advantage. The email above is slightly tongue in cheek, but think about it, how many other sellers of physical goods can offer the buyer added bonuses that they can check out BEFORE they get there hands on the item they purchased.

You can use those 5 days to build up a relationship with the buyer, and that’s BEFORE they even receive the eBook they purchased from you, by the time it comes through their door in some cool looking cardboard sleeve they will already be loving your service as you’ve gone the extra mile and delivered something of added value to them that they weren’t expecting – can you imagine the sort of feedback you could receive if you put this into place?

Now more on the lovely cardboard sleeve…

John recommends that you do the burning, packaging and shipping of the CD yourself. Let’s look at the costs involved with that:

1.  Jiffy bags/CD wallets to post in
2.  Blank CD’s to burn the items on to
3.  Machine to print labels on the blank CD’s
4.  Ink for the CD labels
5.  A label printer for the addresses
6.  The price to ship the CD
7.  The endless queues at the post office!

This aint good for my back!

The above would give you total control over the shipping process, but how much time would all of that take if you were to do it day to day, and if you had a full time job as well, would you be able to find time for the daily trip to the post office?

Now let’s compare that with my solution –

Use an on-demand CD printing and shipping service!

I’ve used in the past for a number of different projects, you simply upload the “Master” CD to them via their website, and then each time someone purchases your item, you just log onto the website, fill out the delivery form with the buyers name and address, and hey-presto, SwiftCD burn, print and ship your CD to the end user.

Not only will it take a lot less time than doing all of this yourself, I think that the end product would also look a lot more professional. Take a look at an example CD I had shipped by Swift:

A CD of mine for a project that has never seen the light of day

I also think that when you look at the cost of shipping and burning the CD’s yourself, SwiftCD could actually work out cheaper – especially if you are in the UK!

For the basic mailing package (which is all you’ll need), the cost of burning the CD and printing your artwork (or just a text label) on the CD is just $3.69, you then have the shipping costs which are currently $0.41 to a US address and $0.90 to a non-US address.

So in total you are looking at less than $5, or £2.50 per CD. When you work out how much it would cost you to do this manually, and the amount of time you would waste queueing at the post office is it really going to be cheaper to do it yourself?

I should also point out that the pricing mentioned above was correct at the time of writing, for an upto date pricing guide check out the links below:

CD Creation:
Shipping Prices:

I will also point out that any links in this post are NOT affiliate links, I have no affiliation with SwiftCD other than being a happy customer for a number of years. There are of course other companies out there and you may be able to find better deals if you dig around!

I’d love to hear your comments on what seems to be a very poignant subject to a lot of you.

As always thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it,

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32 Responses to “My Take On The eBay Digital Item Restrictions”
  1. Dave Ovenden says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for a great post! I love the humour – it really helps to ease the tension at times like this!

    I agree with you that putting digital content onto CD and then using a fulfilment house is probably the best way to go.

    I have investigated and I have put together a couple of Camtasia videos showing how to set this up on my blog. You can view them here:

    I will now check out based on your recommendation above.

    I’ve also been scouring the many blogs and forums looking at all of the comments and suggestions. I’ve tried to summarise the 4 main options that seem to be emerging. You can read more about that at my newsletter here:

    Thanks again for the great information in your post!

    Best regards,
    Dave Ovenden

  2. Prosperity66 says:

    Very interesting especially when I think about the price of our postal services here in Belgium 🙂

  3. Nicole says:

    Hi there
    Many thanks for all the great info. I totally agree with both youself and John Thornhill – I think both of you have good points.

    Many thanks for the info on swiftcd – it sounds like a good option to look at.


  4. Randy Smith says:

    Hi Dan,

    Darn good article mate 😉
    (nice looking CD too)

    I’ve heard there is a script available for around $67 that links into to the kunkai (or similar?) site that does the CD’s
    And the script takes care of the order from start to finish – saving you from adding customer details etc. to the CD site.

    Not being a techy – I thought I’d mention it here so any techy can do a search and check it out 😉


  5. Paula Brett says:

    Yep, gotta agree with you, Dan, I’ve used Swift and they’re excellent both in quality and pricing. I’m a happy customer too. Anyone planning on starting this kind of biz to cater for the demand will have to match them to get my business.

    Paula Brett

  6. Dave Ovenden says:

    Hi Randy,

    Your’re right there are actually a couple of scripts that I am aware of that link in with Kunaki.

    Here are the links if you want to check them out:


    I’ve not tried either of them out myself. Perhaps if there is someone who owns them or has used them they could post their comments here?

    Dave Ovenden

  7. Hi, Dan!

    I When the prices cheenjoyed reading your blog today and I wanted to let you know what my thoughts are.

    Everyone seems to be overlooking the fact that the policy now allows the sale of digital items through the classified ad section.

    Up to now, I had been listing each one of my ebooks once a day at a cost of about 35 cents listing fee per item and one item per listing.

    So that was a total of about $10.50 per month per ebook, not including final value fees.

    It costs $9.95 per month for a classified ad, but you can sell as many items as you want from that listing. You are allowed to put outside links into the classified ad, so you could not only sell your ebooks but also direct the traffic to your blog or website or affilliate links.

    I believe that buyers come to ebay looking for information and if you have a high quality info product, you could easily sell it on ebay for a good price and sell numerous items, still using PayPal to accept payments and save money because now you will not have to pay the final value fee.

    I have not tried this, so I don’t know for sure that it will work, but I am going to take a crack at it. Plus, there will be a lot less competition now since most people will not try something new.

    Cathryn Maldonado

  8. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone, I think 7 comments whilst I eat my dinner is a new record!

    Thanks for the links as well Dave, they will certinaly be very useful for many readers.

    SwiftCD does have an automation thingy, but tbh I’ve never really looked into it. You can find full details here:

    @ Cathryn, I left out the classified ad’s mainly because I’ve never used one so I have no idea how effective they are? It would be great to get some feedback from anyone who has used a classified ad in the past.

  9. Hi, Guys and Gals

    I can see that together we will all have a new and wonderful knowledge of how
    to make the best out of things whilst selling ebooks in the future.

    The knowledge of ways to implement the business of selling ebooks etc is
    about to be totally re-written by those that have helped others so much in
    the past.

    Thanks for a great post dan and all who have and will post on this new era.


  10. Good stuff Dan thanks.

    Question though ? If on your “tongue in cheek” example mail, you had offered a download “while they waited for the CD”, would you be in breach of eBays new rule ?

    I’m of the opinion that you wouldn’t be as you have listed and sold (and will deliver) a physical product. However, the customer will still get his/her “instant gratification”.

    Or is this just too simple ?

    Your expert thoughts would be appreciated.


  11. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Hi Phil,
    As far as I’m aware my email wouldn’t be in breech (can’t spell today!) of the policy, I’m sticking to the rules by selling them a physical item (the item on CD) and then all I’m doing is plugging my website/mailing list in the “Thanks for your purchase” email.

    I think we’d be getting into very scary waters if eBay were to police things after the transaction had been completed.

  12. Well Dan, that put the cat among the pigeons 🙂

    First of all I realize that you can still start the relationship process with the initial email that you send. Of course you will try to up-sell here. You would be silly not to.

    When I said we lose automation I was talking about the delivery process only.

    Now here is one reason why I would not use a fulfillment company and I quote from SwiftCD:

    “Shipping via First Class mail usually takes 3-4 days for delivery in the US, and Airmail usually takes 4-7 days for delivery to non-US addresses. However, please allow 3 weeks for delivery (US addresses) and 4 weeks for delivery (non-US addresses). If you or your customer do not receive the CD in the time allotted”

    I’m afraid if delivery takes 3-4 weeks you will be looking at a lot of negs, especially when the new feedback rule comes out in May. I have always stated that feedback is everything on eBay and you must protect this however you can. Well relying on a fulfillment company to do things right is not how I would like to operate. You are not in full control.

    Plus this is all going to be about the customer experience. You can’t put the personal touch into your product when you are not fully in control.

    What if you wanted to add a special offer? Or your latest newsletter printed with the order? Or you simply have some excess stock you want to give away? Or anything along those lines? Now you maybe able to do some of this with a fulfillment service but the costs will rise.

    And like I said on my blog if you’re a small seller you can do this yourself. Once you have a system in place it doesn’t take long. You can even print your own stamps these days.

    And I will be outsourcing this work anyway so I will still be automating what I do. And I would much rather pay a friend or relative to do this for me, this means if there are any problems I only need to make a phone call.

    But at the end of the day it’s up to the individual and their circumstances, it also depends where in the world you live and where in the world you ship to and your post highlights what is possible. I just don’t agree with it 🙂

  13. Robin Skeen says:

    Good post Dan. I can see both yours and John’s points in this. I foresee Swift and the like getting a major kick in their business and good for them. I like the idea of this because it saves tons of tediousness. On the other hand, doing it yourself or outsourcing to friends keeps it close enough to control. I don’t know. I stopped the ebay ebook thing about a year ago because it just wasn’t worth the investment for me but it did get me started learning the ins and outs of an online business.

  14. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Your ears must have been burning John 🙂

    I agree with you and having to wait 3 – 4 weeks for anything you’ve purchased, be it and eBook or something else is waaaaay too long to wait. However the 3 – 4 weeks quoted by swift are only to cover themselves for items getting lost/mixed up in the post, which can happen with any item you sell. As soon as you send anything via mail it’s always a bit of a lottery on it turning up or not – don’t get me started on Roayl Mail 😉

    I would say that Swift do send you an email each time they ship a CD for you, and you can view a list of all the CD’s shipped, time, date and so on. They also send you an email if any CD’s are sent back to them due to bad addresses and such like.

  15. Terri says:

    Hi Dan!

    Excellent post and great information as usual! Being a eBay store owner as of March 31st I will be looking for other options as well. I will miss my ‘back-end’ sells source that my digital items provided, but all is not lost.

    I have a link to the Kunaki CD/DVD Automator Software that your readers may want to check out when considering other options.

    It’s for anyone who wants to sell their content, scripts, audio, video and more on a CD or DVD or in a set of CD’s and DVD’s. Anyone can use this: Internet marketers, authors, developers, speakers, non-profits, direct marketers, independent musicians, and more will instantly see the value of being able to sell their content on physical media, getting paid instantly and never having to go to the post office again!

    You Can Burn, Print (in full color), Package and Deliver your CD’s and
    DVD’s 100% Hands-Off and Automatically … so you can focus on sales
    and marketing!

    Here’s the link if you’d like more information,

    Just something to consider

    Thanks Dan!

  16. Thanks for your information.

    I have a question though, if eBay is doing all this to stop penny or low cost auctions, then will they also stop the low cost or penny CD or DVD sales of items? Who is to stop those selling CD’s and DVD’s of eBooks or other digital items for such a low price? I don’t see how they will stop the manipulating feedback from some and while CD and DVD sales are more costly to list and purchase, I think most of the buyers will go elsewhere. I suppose the test will be over the next few months.

    There was a blog that also posted that classified ads did well to attract and sell more, but that is not what I have heard from eBay sellers already doing this.

    Is there any research completed or statistics that can help the more mom and pop sellers than the big sellers??


    Kris Williams,

  17. Carol Peck says:

    Hi Dan,
    I have never had the time to make a comment here so this is the first and as a ebay store owner plus my own online store see url above i was very interested when I saw your newletter and read the blog so here goes I have news for you I have been selling my ebooks on cd now here in Australia for over a year now and I sell them as a package product or single item depending on what it is I sell mine on ebay for $5aus I buy my cds in bulk so they are cheaper I use my canon pixma to print the label on them and I now ship my cd’s worldwide okay I am not making millions but the cd’s sell really well sometimes i do a double cd and up the price so I think I will still keep doing what works for me I could never get the digital thing to work on ebay myself anyway so this solution I came up with works well and now I publish my own craft cd yes I do TAZ Cards papertole for beginners and it is selling really well I have just listed my second papertole cd and its going ok so everyone out there you can still sell either on cd or try what Dan has said but dont give up I think at the moment Ebay are having a few problems I also think if they dont put their fees down they will lose more than just customers…

  18. David says:

    Hi, Dan! From what I have seen so far you can put a PAYPAL BUTTON into your Classified Ad on ebay and get instant delivery after payment because Paypal allows you to redirect to a landing page after Payment is complete!

    In fact, I just bought an ebook from a UK seller all about using Classifieds to sell on ebay instead of Auctions and got the ebook immediately after I signed into my Paypal account. This could not have been simpler!

    He even has a newsletter opt-in on his download page using Aweber…

    There is no Feedback to be gained from using Classifieds but there is instant cash and instant delivery to the customer. Ads in Classifieds show up in regular ebay searches – this is how I found this particular seller when I was looking for info about CLASSIFIEDS on ebay. It is tough to find anything immediately about them, so I just typed in CLASSIFIEDS and this guy’s auction came up in the listings.

    Without Feedback from Classified sales you are only going to earn money and not standing as a Powerseller, I am afraid by the look of it. Yet, look at all the Powersellers who offer other types of digital products on CD or DVD, like software, radio shows or photographs? They are doing quite well, without instant downloading anything. I have sold digital items on CD in a niche of mine and sent out CD’s to Japan, Germany, Australia, England and other places with no complaints from the buyers and great feedback, and these are items I sold at $9.95 to $24.95 each. If the value is there for the customer – they will buy and wait to get the item. Usually within a week or so, too – and not the 3-4 weeks that is quoted by fulfilment companies. At least that was my experience.

    The things you can do with a Classified Ad are impossible to do in a regular ebay Auction so if Buyer’s are really hungry for ebook with an instant download maybe buying them from the Classifieds should be popularized more!

    One seller I found offers the download of his ebooks as a Freebie while the customer waits for the physical version to arrive in the mail:

    On Mar-26-08 at 20:17:23 PDT, seller added the following information:
    To comply with new eBay rules, this item is now offered as a 12 page mini-booklet printed on actual paper, size= 4″ X 5 1/4″. This is now the item being sold. Shipping is FREE. And…and, for those who want instant gratification, who want instant access to important information, we offer this special service, namely, you may also download the exact same booklet information in e-book form to read on-screen while waiting for the postal delivery of your mini booklet. The download information will be provided by email after you pay for the mini-booklet. The download is a free service. Ebay can’t stop people from giving their customers extra free services can they? So shoot me, I just want to help people gain knowledge. The mini booklet is very small print, like about 4 point, you need good light and good eyesight to read it, or a big magnifying glass. Perhaps you would be better off to just download the ebook version, but no one will force you to, it is an add-on bonus. The post office will still deliver your mini-booklet, even if you figure the e-book is OK, because that is the REAL item we are selling.

    He is skating on the edge, I think – but with a sense of humor!

    I think there will be a lot of experimenting going on in the coming days and weeks and I am very curious to see what develops!

    Best always, David~
    Have loved the newsletters
    of all you guys for a long time!

  19. jason says:


    We sell on ebay why? because it has the traffic and traffic = sales! well Youtube has just as much traffic (more in fact, lots more). So learn how to draw the traffic from Youtube insted of eBay, its easier then you would think!

    Ive been doing this for a while now anyway, and it produces better results then eBay!

    3 Ways YouTube Generates You Targeted Traffic!

    YouTube doesn’t just give you traffic from its own regular searchers. But, you can get traffic from it in 3 ways. These include:

    1. From those searching on YouTube. There are countless hundreds of thousands that come to YouTube on a regular, often daily or weekly basis.

    They then find your videos by typing-in a search query on the site. For example, if you have a video on “Tatoos,” then when somebody typed in this term, they might find your video.

    Traffic from starts coming-in within mere hours of submitting your video.

    2. Listings from inside Google, Yahoo, and MSN for prized terms. Google loves YouTube videos and often gives them prized search rankings.

    It’s often far easier to get a listing for a top keyword by submitting a video to YouTube than it is to create a web page on your own new website for that search keyword.

    The traffic you get from search engines is almost always going to be much higher quality than that from just searchers.

    3. Other website owners picking-up your videos for distribution. When you upload a video to YouTube, you have the option of allowing others to put it on their websites or blogs. And this is common!

    If they do, this can cause an avalanche of targeted traffic. The readers of that blog will view your video, check-out your website, and possibly republish your video if they have a blog or website!

    As you can see, YouTube generates traffic from across the web… and by submitting your videos, you can gain a massive amount of exposure to many different audiences.

    Its a real simple process when you know how. A very good place to start would be the Tube Mastery system on profiting from YouTube (and other video submission websites), check-out “Tube Mastery” over at:


    Lets move forward!

    Jason Shepherd

  20. Ryan says:

    You know, I’m really torn on this whole deal. I’m like you though, Dan. I kind of disagree with John, which automatically make me wonder if I’m wrong. 🙂

    But in some of my blog hopping, I’ve found this website – – that does the same thing as SwiftCD, only the pictures look a lot nicer, and it is cheaper. I’ve never used it, and never seen a disc in person, but it does seem like a pretty sweet deal.

    Any idea what I’m possibly getting into?

  21. I’m going to chime in here again.

    The whole delivery system depends you as an individual. Where you live and where you ship to.

    Just because I don’t want to use a fulfillment company doesn’t mean it may not be right for you.

    It’s just not right for me.

  22. Dan (el_passo) says:

    I think that if we read all of the blog posts on the countless forms it just goes to show how much potential there could be with this new policy in place, there are so many different ways you can do things now eBay is your oyster!

    I for one am really looking forward to how it all works out, I’ve already got some good ideas in mind for how to package my own eBooks.

  23. Derek says:

    Hi Dan

    Nice post, I shall be rethinking about digital goods and my sites but i still see potential for the E W portal as it handles physical goods as well and unlock codes etc


  24. Peter says:

    This has been really frustrating for me as well. I have been selling lots of digital content on ebay. As if their fees aren’t high enough, I would be paying $12,000 a month if I decided to continue on come Monday. I have actually had pretty good luck with this new site called It lets me sell my videos on a commission basis which I really like. If the videos don’t sell I don’t have to pay a dime.

  25. Peter Jacobs says:

    E-books are dead . . .

    A bold Statement I know, but true…………… Well as far as Ebay are concerned.

    If your interested in discovering how you can produce Multimedia Information Products that make you money……… For FREE…. From someone who has done just that for over 26 years, you need to get this FREE VIDEO COURSE today.

    Now it’s a shame that eBay has come to this decision, but like many people have already stated. Look for the positives and not dwell too much on the negatives, as this will surely drag you down into a deep feeling of despair and confusion.

    Move on, and look for other more lucrative ways that you can make money online. There are a number of discussions on hundreds if not thousands of blogs and websites looking for ways around this current situation. Some I feel will look towards trying to manipulate and deceive eBay and continue to try and sell their e-book and digital products on their site.

    Over the last few days, I have listened to audio discussions as well as reading debates on this subject, by very successful e-book marketers and the one thing that is common amongst all of them is they are running scared. Very very scared of the possibilities of losing their current income and the success they have built up over the years.

    Now many of these successful e-book marketers have come to a number of conclusions, and one avenue is to convert their current business activities of digital e-books/software into a physical item, and as a successful producer of physical multimedia information products (I had to laugh when I heard an audio discussion describing Multimedia Information Products as something NEW !, or atleast the term Multimedai Information Products )

    I have recently set up a live online TV station, and I invited many of the Ebay Ebook top Sellers to contribute to the show. But have now recently realised, that a more indepth discussion or help package would be better.

  26. David Best says:

    Thanks for the informative post. I had not heard of SwiftCD, but will definitely look at it.

    I’d be very interested in reviews/comparisons on Swift CD and Kunaki from people who have experience using both.

  27. Michael says:

    Hi Dan!

    Are you aware of any SwiftCD or Kunaki like service operating in the UK?
    I have used kunaki and they are excellent, I will try SwiftCD to compare in case I need a back up.
    Thanks for the info, great blog.

  28. Matt says:


    I run a UK CD/DVD Duplication and Replication company. We’ve had a similar service in the pipeline for a few months, and the eBay announcement which kicked in at the end of March seems to have kicked in at a very relevant time.

    I’m looking for feedback at the moment as to what people would like to see in the service and if there are any additional features that people might want. If any of you have any ideas, I’d be very happy to hear them.

    The main basis is going to be fast and quality turnaround. Having sold on eBay for 7 years along with many of you, I understand how important that it is to fulfill your orders as quickly as possible. We sold CDs on eBay as one of our marketing strategies for nearly 3 years, gaining many clients from record labels to bands and marketing companies. We also deal with Vodafone, Shell, UK Government and various other SMEs and individuals around the UK, Europe and Worldwide. If you need a service I’m quite sure we can supply you with something you will enjoy.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me – matt [at] digital9 [dot] co [dot] uk.

    Dan – great blog, stumbled across you when looking for a few ideas over this Bank Holiday weekend. Will try and keep in touch 🙂

  29. Omar Martin says:

    Great Post Dan,

    I just set up a whole new system for the physical delivery of my info products and it will infact be quite time consuming once the orders start rolling in for multiple products on a daily basis.

    I think I’m going to take your advice on this one. Sounds like a no brainer.


  30. Mike says:

    Don’t look now but I think your solution might have just disapeared. Check the SwiftCD URL and you’ll see what I mean…

    Another one bytes the dust!

  31. Dan says:

    Hi Mike,
    I’m not sure what you mean, the site loads fine for me?