Primeless price penalty at Amazon brick-and-mortar stores
Well! Amazon was perhaps cleverer than I was.🙂
That’s not to say that hasn’t happened before, of course, but I think this one is smart.
When I was recently on The Kindle Chronicles podcast the host, Len Edgerly, asked me what I thought (as a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager) about Amazon’s approach to opening their new, very limited, physical bookstores.
I replied that I thought they were doing it in a good way…using the stores primarily as showrooms for the website.
Well, in this
it appears that they’ve gone a step further.
There are pictures in the post which show that people shopping in the Seattle physical Amazon bookstore (where my sibling’s first novel, One Murder More ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)), has been featured) see signs explaining that there are two prices possible for each book.
members, who usually pay $99 a year, pay the same price for the book that they would at Amazon.com.
Non-Prime members pay list price for the book.
That can be really significantly different…and Amazon doesn’t usually charge the list price. The list price for John Sandford’s latest book (in hardback) is $29.00. Amazon is selling it, at time of writing, for $17.40…a savings of $11.60.
I should explain what “list price” means.
A publisher puts a “list price” (like an MSRP…Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) on a book. Many bookstores discount the book from there, especially popular books.
My guess is that the majority of, say, New York Times fiction hardback bestsellers are sold below list price…not just at Amazon, but overall.
This changes that, at least for Amazon’s brick-and-mortar stores.
Why would they do that?
It’s simple. You can join Prime right there in the store, and get one month free…and buy the book at the discount.
Prime members, reportedly, are much more loyal to Amazon, and spend a lot more on the profitable physical items…what I call “diapers and windshield wipers”.
In other words, Amazon is using the physical stores to get people to join Prime.
Certainly, other stores do that…you need a membership at Costco to shop there. This doesn’t require you to have a Prime membership to buy books in the bookstore, but you’d save money, Sure, you could cancel before your one-month was up and pay nothing, but I would guess that more than 50% of trial memberships end up being paid memberships.
All things considered, I think this is an intelligent strategic move by Amazon. What do you think? Would that put you off if you went into the store? Do you think it will get people to join Prime? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
Update: thanks to reader Ana whose comment helped improve this post…
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* 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! By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.