What can you do with Amazon Prime?

What can you do with Amazon Prime?

Did you recently become an Amazon Prime member?

You might have: people who buy a Kindle Fire (at AmazonSmile…support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)  get a free one-month trial. Also, you can now give the gift of Prime:

So, there are probably a lot of people who are just coming into their Prime…so to speak.😉

The obvious question is: what can you do with Amazon Prime?

There are three main benefits, and I’ll go through them here.

Free two-day shipping on many items

Prime Shipping Information
at AmazonSmile

This was the original attraction of Prime, and it still is, for many people. You pay $79 a year, and then you can have many items shipped at no additional cost and get two-day shipping.

We hadn’t bought Prime when that’s all it was. I would do the calculation, and say, “We didn’t pay anything like $79 last year for shipping.” That was because we would tend to get things with Super Saver Shipping (at the time, you put together a $25 order of eligible items, and shipping was free…although it wasn’t fast), and we used Subscribe and Save for other items.

Super Saver Shipping
at AmazonSmile

Subscribe & Save
at AmazonSmile

We still subscribe to a lot of things, like dog food and vitamins. It just makes sense: you save 15%, you can choose a periodicity for orders, and you can skip an order whenever you want…and shipping is free.

That, though, turned out not to be the best way to compare the situation…the shipping costs we had paid was not the only factor we should have considered.

When we got our first Kindle Fire, we got a month of Prime free. Actually using it, we saw the other big advantages.

The key thing is that you might decide you need something…in a recent case, we need curtains for a room that was going to be used as a guest room. You can have it with two-day shipping, if you can find one that is eligible for Prime. Compare that to going to a store. If you decide on a Monday, you probably aren’t going to go to the store until the weekend. You’ll have to drive there, wait in line…it’s quite a production! You don’t typically even know if they’ll have what you want.

We’ve found we use Prime…a lot. If we were to compare the cost of the shipping that was included with our $79 Prime to what it would cost without Prime, we’d be saving a ton of money. Of course, we wouldn’t have shipped that stuff in two days without Prime…but time is valuable, and those savings count.

You can even get faster shipping for more money. A 1-day shipping upgrade is as low as $2.99. It used to be $3.99 for everything, now it depends on the size and weight of the item.

You can share Prime shipping benefits with other people living at your same address. So, if you have, let’s say, an adult kid living with you with their own Amazon account, they can share your shipping benefit at no additional cost. You can have four additional people (not on your account…everybody on your account gets it automatically) under your shipping benefits.

One caveat: the shipping speed is just that…it’s not the delivery date. We are still often surprised at how quickly we get things, but sometimes, we order something with Prime and it is a week before we get it. Why? It didn’t start shipping for several days. The actual shipping still took two (business) days, but it didn’t start immediately, because it was out of stock, or otherwise unavailable for some reason.

I think the shipping benefits alone are worth it for many people, when you compare the costs (not just the shipping fee…gas, time).

Prime Instant Video

Prime Instant Video
at AmazonSmile

This is the ability to watch movies and TV shows at no additional cost. It’s easy on a Kindle Fire, but you don’t need one, if you have other ways to watch Amazon Instant Video (a Roku, for example).

I would say that people wanting to know how this compares to Netflix is one of the most common questions I see from people considering Prime.

Let’s start out with cost: they are comparable, although Prime is somewhat cheaper (I’m ignoring other Prime benefits in this comparison). $79/12 = $6.58 a month. If we look at streaming only, Netflix is $7.99 a month…and you can get an annual membership for $95.88.

What about content?

Remember, we are limiting this to streaming…if you include DVDs, Netflix would presumably blow Prime away. However, we aren’t.🙂

I have to say “presumably”, because Netflix doesn’t make it easy to figure out how many total videos they have available. I may just be missing it, but I don’t see a way to browse the entire collection. I’ve seen unverified numbers of all kinds on the internet: from 3,000 movies and 20,000 TV episodes to “over 75,000”.

Looking at Amazon, there are 14,675 movies and 2,075 TV seasons (season 1 on Downton Abbey, for example, would count as one of those 2,075) at time of writing. It’s possible that not each of those 2,075 is a season…a TV movie might count as one. The number of episodes in a season has varied considerably…if we figure ten as an average, that might be about 20,000.

Each of them has original content as well, although that’s new to Amazon.

My feeling is that Netflix tends to have more of the recent stuff, although I haven’t analyzed that. Looking at the most popular movies on Prime, I see The Hunger Games, Skyfall, The Avengers…obviously, all big hits. Remember that these are available at no additional cost over your Prime membership.

Could you drop your cable company just for Prime? The main thing you would miss is current TV…but if you can wait a year to see something, that’s not bad.🙂

I would also say that Netflix has a more sophisticated interface, although if you first find the video on your computer, Amazon does okay there. They’ve even added the

Amazon Instant Video Finder
at AmazonSmile

Netflix, though, makes it very easy to find what you’ve watched recently…Amazon could certainly improve that.

In Amazon’s favor is X-Ray for Movies. That’s a feature that lets you get information about a movie you are currently watching. For example, you can freeze the movie and get background about the actors in the scene…even find out what other movies an actor is in to watch later. That’s powered by IMDb.com, which I think is the best movie resource on the web…and is owned by Amazon.

Amazon recently added closed captioning, so that is less of an edge for Netflix than it used to be.

Another huge advantage with the current generation of Kindle Fires is that you can download Prime videos (many of them) to watch when you are offline (on a plane, for example). Netflix is designed to be strictly streaming…no downloading.

Download Prime Instant Video Titles
at AmazonSmile

Amazon also has nice

Amazon Instant Video parental controls
at AmazonSmile

This might be new! You can set one of four levels for content…and choose to which devices that limit applies. The content is not just movie ratings, but includes TV ratings. So, you could have a kid’s Fire set to allow G, TV-G, and TV-Y, and have an adult’s where anything goes.

You can’t share your Prime video benefits with someone not on your account, like you can with your shipping benefits. There are also some significant restrictions (this is quoted from Amazon):

  • You can stream up to two titles at the same time using the same Amazon.com account. You can stream the same title to no more than one device at a time.
  • Many Prime Instant Video titles are also available for download on Kindle Fire HD 2nd Generation and Kindle Fire HDX devices. The detail page for each Prime Instant Video title indicates whether the title is available for download. You can download available titles to only two separate devices at one time. If you have already downloaded a title to two devices, you need to delete it from one of them before downloading it to another device. You can have a maximum of 25 total Prime Instant Video titles downloaded at a time across all devices associated with your Amazon.com account. While not all Prime Instant Video titles are available for download, the same videos may be available for rental or purchase from Amazon Instant Video, and rented or purchased titles can be downloaded to compatible devices.

Amazon Instant Video Usage Rules
at AmazonSmile

Is Prime worth it just for video? What I would say is take a look at what you watch, and see how well it matches up with what you like.

Kindle Book Benefits

There are two benefits for Prime members on e-books, and they are really quite different.

Kindle First
at AmazonSmile

With this one, you select one of a select group of not-yet published books. So far (this is new), there have been four each month, and they have all come from Amazon’s traditional publishing imprints. You select the book, you own it**. It follows the same rules as any other e-book on your account: all compatible devices on your account can use it. You can lend them to someone not on your account, according to the normal Kindle lending rules. That means you can lend it once…ever…for fourteen days. While the other person has it, you won’t have access to it. Kindle First books may not all be lendable, but books published by Amazon generally have been.

The other benefit is the

Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL)
at AmazonSmile

For this one, you need to not only be an eligible Prime member, you also have to own a hardware Kindle (just a Kindle app isn’t enough…if you have both hardware Kindles and apps on your account, you can only send it to the hardware Kindles).

You can borrow up to one book a calendar month. You don’t own the book: you’ll need to return it before you can borrow the next one (and you’ll have to wait until the next month to do that anyway).

The books are from a specific set, but there were close to half a million titles in there when I checked January 1st…about one out of five of all the USA Kindle store books.

These are mostly independently published, but you do have the traditionally published Amazon books (which include James Bond and the 87th Precinct books). Scholastic, which is a major publisher, also puts books into the KOLL (The Hunger Games, for example), and the Harry Potter books are there, too. I have found something to read every month.

There you go! Those are the benefits to Prime. If you have any other questions, or want to let me or my readers know what you like about Prime, feel free to comment on this post.

Update: I was sort of making this up while I was on a walk with  my family (yeah, I do that…I make up little songs a lot). They had suggested I put it in the blog, and I meant to include it with this post.🙂

Addicted to Prime (sung to the tune of Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer)

You hit 1-click,
You’re in the zone.
Some THING comes to your home.
You’re not sure…
You can’t recall
What it could be
No, not at all.

You see the box:
It’s got a smile.
You tear the tape…
It takes a while.
You still can’t see!
So many puffs!
You pull them out…what is this stuff???

Whoa-whoa…you like to think you’ve got it licked this time, whoa yeah!
It’s closer to the truth that you will spend every dime
You know you’re gonna have to face it
You’re addicted to Prime

You watch a film
It’s so obscure.
You face the facts: you need a cure.
You stream and stream
And never stop.
Another show: your mind will pop!
Your mind will pop!
Your eyes are glazed.
Your family is all amazed.
They thought you liked
To read a book
But having Prime is all it took

Whoa-whoa…you like to think you’ve got it licked this time, whoa yeah!
It’s closer to the truth that you will spend every dime
You know you’re gonna have to face it
You’re addicted to Prime

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime

The month is new…
You want a book:
You’re afraid
To take a look.
They’re too weird
Can’t decide!
But they’re free
Can’t let it slide!

Whoa-whoa…you like to think you’ve got it licked this time, whoa yeah!
It’s closer to the truth that you will spend every dime
You know you’re gonna have to face it
You’re addicted to Prime

Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime
Might as well face it, you’re addicted to Prime

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

** What you are actually buying is a license to read the book. For more information, see my post,  How an e-book is like a treadmill at the gym

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

6 Responses to “What can you do with Amazon Prime?”

  1. Cassandras Email Says:

    Fyi….Here is the latest info on amazon prime.

    Cassie (Lover of dogs & Starbucks) [personal contact information removed]

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Cassie!

      I don’t know if you intended to include a link, or if you were perhaps trying to send my post to someone else?

  2. Jennifer Jeffreys Martin Says:

    Prime is the one bill I pay every year with a smile on my face; the older I get, the less I like to go shopping, and it’s become almost a game to see what I can find at Amazon to keep me home so I can read more! The UPS man is like a friend coming to visit! Between Prime and the Mayday button, Amazon is the best!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Jennifer!
      🙂 I understand. It’s funny, I never see my UPS person, or almost never. They ring the doorbell or knock on the door, and then they are gone before I get there.

      Actually, with text-to-speech, I much more look forward to being in the car…although not necessarily in going to a store.😉

  3. Amazon has restricted Prime sharing | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] “You can share Prime shipping benefits with other people living at your same address. So, if you have, let’s say, an adult kid living with you with their own Amazon account, they can share your shipping benefit at no additional cost. You can have four additional people (not on your account…everybody on your account gets it automatically) under your shipping benefits.” —What can you do with Amazon Prime? […]

  4. The Fire TV Buyer’s Guide: September 2015 edition | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] a month), so we have Prime Video available to us (Prime has other benefits…see my post from What can you do with Amazon Prime? for some […]

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