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

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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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