Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Whether or Not to Keep Amazon Prime

Everyone who gets a Kindle Fire also gets a 1-month free trial with Amazon Prime, a service that started out as a way to get cheap shipping but has expanded into a way to watch free movies and read free books as well. For those who've had the Fire since it was first released or are looking ahead, it may be time to start considering whether or not to maintain your Prime membership for its cost of $79 a year.

Here is a rundown of the program's features.
In addition to free two-day shipping, you can also upgrade to one-day shipping for only $3.99. You can borrow one book for free per month from its expanding list of books. And you can watch a number of Movies and TV Shows for free. More info on the program can be found here.

The obvious point to giving you the free month was so that you'd enjoy the benefits enough to want to pay for them before they're taken away. Well, should you? Let's look at it from a few different angles.

Covering the Cost
A major factor in your decision to start shelling out money for Prime will be whether or not you feel like you are getting your money's worth. Over the course of a year, will you use $79 worth of the service?

For shipping, ordering pretty much anything at all can incur about $4 in shipping charges. That means you've got to order about 20 items a year to cover the cost on that alone. (Yes, I'm a math whiz.) Getting next day shipping routinely costs over $10 and is often closer to $15, giving you a savings of $6 to $10 per order.

The selection of movies and TV is limited but is constantly growing. They don't have every movie ever made, and the TV shows don't often have all the seasons. It's pretty clear that this is not Netflix. That said, I don't have a hard time picking out things I'd want to watch when I'm scrolling down the list. Consider that every episode or movie costs $2-3, even just occasionally watching something could save you $10 a month. The list of eligible books is growing as well, allowing you to save up to $10 a month there. Even if you only took advantage of the free books, you would easily save yourself the cost of the program within a year.

David Pogue of the New York Times sums up the Prime program here. "I’m not sure what free shipping has to do with free movies and now free books. I’m not sure why more people aren’t skeptical of a huge corporation giving stuff away; there’s a “too good to be true” aspect to it. But I do know this: Amazon Prime is looking like a better deal every day. Darned near irresistible, in fact. And I also know this: Amazon is thinking outside the business-school box. Way outside. And you gotta love anyone who comes along to shake things up."

But again, it all comes down to whether or not you are going to use the services that are offered. So, what do you think? Will you be keeping your Prime Membership?

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