Why I Don’t – and Didn’t – Get Amazon Prime

Amaz boxes

This past weekend I was tempted to sign up for Amazon Prime. The one-day-only special price was about 25% off.  The discount was significant enough to make me reconsider my long-standing frugality and impatience at waiting 4-6 days for packages (really, that is so unreasonable!). So I pondered. And I researched. And before the day was done, I decided that while the major benefit of quick shipping on millions of items was appealing, I don’t shop that much. And beyond “free” shipping there just isn’t enough benefit for me to pay $6/month to get Amazon Prime. I get free 2-day shipping through my American Express card at many other merchants, many of which are competitive with Amazon’s selection and prices.

The media offerings for Prime members might be valuable to many. Not so much for me. I don’t watch several TV shows or movies a week, and if I did I’d consider Netflix or even Redbox. If I had time and didn’t want to use the local library I could read several books a month with the Kindle library (it has some good titles)…but I like the public library. I really don’t want to listen to hours of music on Amazon’s streaming services. I’d rather enjoy my own iTunes collection, or if I want new music crank up Spotify.

In the end, while I like the ease of shopping and wide variety of goods sold at Amazon, I simply don’t have a great need for Amazon Prime’s additional benefits specifically the offered media.

I think Amazon is a terrific place to buy stuff, but I’m not sure their desire to be a media company is quite there. Mixing e-commerce and media streaming seems a bit of a mashup. I get the convenience of getting some Redbox movies while you’re at the local grocery store. Those are separate transactions, however, and I don’t pay a “membership” fee to access the fruit or the movies. Prime’s media catalogue and delivery mechanisms aren’t fully developed, nor is the rationale for paying for both different aspects of Amazon’s services.

Amazon’s foray into television, film rentals (that is what they’re offering with Prime’s on-demand movies), music and even e-books is admirable. It may be that in a few years it is a “gotta have” service. For now, though, there are many alternatives for most of what Prime offers, and I don’t have to pay for most of those options.

Keep at it, Amazon. Consider offering pure-play movies and TV subscriptions. Consider a $2/month for multiple “rentals.” Give me something really special to make me come to you for music. Bundle that Kindle lending library with all of your Kindle hardware. And maybe offer Prime shipping for less?

You may have me at some point down the road. It’s just not yet “prime time.”


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