Amazon is going back to its roots as a bookseller with its latest Prime perk. If you subscribe to the company’s $99-a-year Prime membership, which provides free two-day shipping on many products (among other things), your newest benefit? Prime Reading. Announced this morning, Prime Reading gives US Prime members unlimited access to a rotating selection of books, magazines, comics, and shorter reading materials.
You need to have the Kindle app on your smartphone or e-reader. Amazon says it is offering over a thousand “popular books,” ranging from well-recognized titles like The Hobbit and Harry Potter to thriller and suspense titles like Red Sparrow and The Butterfly Garden. Even stuff like the Lonely Planet travel guides will be included. In magazines, meanwhile, Amazon doesn’t name specific titles it will offer through Prime Reading, but says it will cover everything from sports and technology to cooking and home improvement. One clue: Conde Nast (which owns WIRED) is probably involved, since an executive from the company was quoted in Amazon’s press release. It will also offer “exclusive” short-form stories.
For Amazon, adding such a perk makes a lot of sense. It already has deep experience and deep data in books and reading–perhaps more than any other company in the world. And this data likely informs the selections it’s included in Prime Reading. Amazon knows how to optimize for maximum #engagement from book lovers, and the more impressive metrics it can report back to advertisers and investors, the better the relationship Amazon can cultivate with them.
According to the research group Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, Prime members feel compelled to spend even more on Amazon than non-Prime members–as much as $1200 a year versus about $500 a year. The firm also found that 73 percent of of Amazon Prime trial users ultimately convert to paid memberships. All of which is obviously great for Amazon’s bottom line.
Amazon doesn’t reveal how many Prime subscribers it has, but CIRP recently estimated about 63 million members in the US–more than half all US Amazon customers. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, meanwhile, has said that the goal with Prime is to make the benefits so obvious that not being a member would make you “irresponsible.”
That certainly seems to be what Amazon’s going for here. In fact, Prime Reading is the third new Prime benefit rolled out in less than a month, on top of giving subscribers access to some Audible Channels and audiobooks, plus game benefits through its video streaming game service, Twitch. Now, it seems, with Prime Reading, Amazon is doubling down–er, tripling down–on the perks you can get with Prime.