Amazon raises price of Prime subscription, possibly signaling the death of online retail

Amazon raises price of Prime subscription, possibly signaling the death of online retail

Since the massive online retailer launched in the mid-’90s, Amazon has crushed countless brick-and-mortar retailers that couldn’t compete with its ability to sell things to people who don’t feel like leaving their homes. However, despite sitting atop a throne of discarded Borders stores and Circuit Cities, Amazon might still be having some minor trouble of its own.

As announced in a brief notice to subscribers, Amazon will be raising the price of its Prime service from $79 a year to $99. In addition to free two-day shipping on most items and access to the Kindle Lending Library, a Prime membership allows subscribers to use Prime Instant Video—which has the exclusive streaming rights to Downton Abbey, The Americans, Veronica Mars, and a batch of new original programming. The price of an Amazon Student membership, which is only available to people with an e-mail address ending in .edu, will also increase to $49 per year. 

Amazon is understandably hesitant to say why exactly its raising these prices, but a Variety article references quotes from Amazon execs that seem to suggest that Prime is suffering a bit from its popularity and that the retailer can’t afford to keep offering so much free shipping. After all, it was only a few months ago that Amazon announced it would be raising the bar for Super Saver shipping from $25 to $35. But perhaps with the advent of 3D printers, consumers don’t want to buy actual things anymore at all. Why order a creepy horse mask from the Internet when you can create one out of magic? That’s how 3D printers work, right?

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