Geekwire has drawn attention for a story yesterday that underscores a policy introduced a couple of months ago: Amazon has shifted pricing practices at their growing network of Amazon Books stores, ostensibly selling books and other items (except Amazon devices) at list price to customers who are not Amazon Prime members. An employee says the revised policy was introduced in August -- though in mid-August, Business Insider was still observing the original practice of selling books to all customers at the same price as Amazon's online store.
The new policy was already reported, with less fanfare and therefore less notice, when the second Amazon Books location opened in early September in La Jolla, CA. At that point, the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, "Staffers and in-store signage remind patrons at every turn that Prime members often pay less than retail prices for books, a point that is reinforced with each smartphone price check." As they noted, and seems ever more clear in trying to crystallize the main objective of these physical stores, "Prime, the company's $99-per-year membership service that includes two-day shipping and streaming video, factors heavily into the store experience."
And from Shelf Awareness:
At Amazon Books, Non-Prime Members Pay Full Price
Prime membership costs $99 year or $10.99 a month, and includes shipping deals and access to songs, movies, TV shows and some books, among other benefits. The company has made growth of Prime membership a high priority.
Since opening its first Amazon Books store in Seattle, Wash., a year ago, Amazon had offered customers the same price on all books--the discounted price offered online. For Amazon to sell any book at list price is a striking turn for the deep discounter and emphasizes that at the new bricks-and-mortar stores, building Prime membership is more important to the company than traditional book retailing.
Books at Amazon Books continue to have no marked price; customers need to use an app to scan the book or take it to a scanner in the store.
The new policy doesn't apply to Amazon devices--Kindles, Fires, Echo and more--sold in Amazon's bookstores. The policy is in effect at Amazon's three bookstores, in Seattle, San Diego, Calif., and Tigard, Ore.