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Amazon Prime Subscribers Now Get Free Books

Amazon last week launched Prime Reading — a new benefit for subscribers to its US$100-a-year Amazon Prime service that lets them access content for free.┬áThat content will come from more than 1,000 top Kindle books, Kindle Singles, magazines, comic books, children’s books, and classic works from writers such as Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer and Gloria Steinem.

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“This is great if you want [lots of] content, but it may not be attractive to discriminating readers,” Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan Program Manager Michael Jude told the E-Commerce Times.

On the other hand, “even if it doesn’t have everything you want in it and doesn’t necessarily have all the best sellers, the price is pretty good — it’s free,” observed Mike Goodman, director of digital media research at Strategy Analytics.

Something for Everyone

Books available through Prime Reading include The Hobbit, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Millionaire Next Door.

Magazines accessible in Prime Reading include National Geographic Traveler,People, Sports Illustrated, Popular Mechanics, Runner’s World and Golf Digest.

Comics offered include The Complete Peanuts Vol. 1 and Transformers: Robots in Disguise Vol. 1.

“There are far more books than movies released every year, making it harder to find a sweet spot of titles,” noted Rob Enderle, principal analyst at theEnderle Group.

“Quality is more important than quantity, but since this is another free feature of Prime, there’s no downside to it,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Still, its appeal will depend on how many desirable new books show up in the service, Enderle said.

“I’m a Kindle Unlimited subscriber and likely get a superset of this group already as a result,” he noted.

Kindle Unlimited is a $10 monthly service that gives subscribers unlimited reading and listening from a designated catalog of content on any device.

Prime Reading “will likely be better for casual readers who want a bargain,” Enderle remarked. “Serious readers tend to seek out books.”

Everything Amazon does is tied in to honing its sales approach, and the Prime Reading offer is no different, as “once Amazon learns what the reader likes, it will offer an even better choice of things they might enjoy,” Enderle said. Still, the offer “is a great value, and it could get a lot of folks to read more.”

Amazon’s Advantage

Prime Reading will drive book sales and possibly boost Kindle sales, while it ties people more closely to Amazon, Enderle said.

“This is like stores giving you places to stick your kids or having subsidized food courts — it holds people in the property — and the more they buy, the more likely they are to buy something else,” he remarked.

Best Buy, Walmart and Sears can’t do this, Enderle pointed out, “and it should further cement Amazon’s retail dominance.”

Ultimately, “having Prime subscribers and ensuring Prime continues to grow is paramount to Amazon,” Strategy Analytics’ Goodman told the E-Commerce Times.

“Prime subscribers are the core of Amazon — they spend $1,200 annually compared to non-Prime subscribers, who spend $500,” he noted. “So, increasing that relationship with the Prime subscriber is absolutely critical to Amazon’s health.”

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