Reports began circulating last month that Amazon Prime's annual fee would be increasing, and today comes official word from the online mega-store. The price for the service, which offers streaming video, free two-day shipping and some other perks, has been raised from $79 a year to $99 a year.
Amazon sent an email around to Prime subscribers today, notifying them that the price would be increasing. The site notes that this is the first time they've raised the price since 2005, despite the increasing cost of gas and transportation. They've also added a significant amount of Prime eligible content since 2005.
As a Prime subscriber, I'd hoped that those of us already signed on might be grandfathered into the previously set price, but that was mostly wishful thinking. On the bright side, for current subscribers, the price increase doesn't take effect until your next membership renewal, so if you're paid up, you should be good for now and you can decide if you want to pay the additional $20/year when it comes time to renew. The Amazon Student member price will be $49/year. As of right now however, the site still has $79/year set as the annual price for regular membership, so it's a bit unclear when the raised price will take effect for new subscribers.
$20 is a significant price bump, however, less so if you look at the cost of the service as it would be per month. $79 divided by 12 months comes in as a bit less than $7 per month. $99 divided by 12 months comes in at $8.25/month, which is a bit more than a Netflix subscription.Amazon's Prime service offers a bit more than Netflix does for those who shop at the site regularly. In addition to access to the Prime streaming video library, the service also offers free two-day shipping for eligible items and access to the Kindle Owner's Lending Library -- a selection of ebooks that can be rented for free if you own a Kindle.
As someone who frequently shops at Amazon, I'm mostly into Prime for the cheap and fast shipping. It's very rare that I buy something at Amazon that isn't Prime-eligible, and the only complaint I have about the two-day shipping is that it's ruining me for shopping at other sites where shipping is not only occasionally costly but also typically takes more than a couple of days. By comparison to the standard Netflix continues to set and reset for streaming video subscription services, Amazon Prime isn't quite there yet - and I really wish Amazon was compatible with Apple TV (AirPlay doesn't count) -- but on the streaming video front, Amazon Prime has gotten some great exclusives recently including all three seasons of Veronica Mars, as well as Under the Dome and -- coming soon -- the new sci-fi drama Extant, which will be available on an episode-to-episode basis, released the week each episode airs on CBS. Prime is also adding new original programming to their streaming video service, which certainly increases the value of the service.
Unless there's a drastic decrease in the quality of service, eligible items and/or streaming TV/movies between now and next Fall, I'll probably renew my membership regardless of the cost increase. But hopefully this bump in price doesn't become an annual thing.