When Amazon opened the doors of its first physical bookstore in Seattle in November 2015, it did not matter whether you were a Prime subscriber or not — book prices were the same for everyone. However, it looks like not being a subscriber has just become a more expensive proposition for visitors, reports GeekWire.
First spotted in Amazon’s Seattle bookstore, the change does not affect Prime members, who can buy items at the same price as listed on the online marketplace. However, those who are not members will need to pay the list price, a strategy that the likes of Sam’s Club and Costco have employed for years. A more direct comparison is the Barnes and Noble yearly membership that nets you discounted books.
An employee at the Seattle location confirmed the change, saying it went into effect back in August across Amazon’s three bookstores, located in Seattle, Portland, and San Diego. That number is expected to increase as time goes on, with more stores to pop up in Chicago, New York, and Boston.
Amazon’s policy change in regard to pricing in its bookstores represents more than just a move to make non-Prime members pay more for books, however — Amazon wants those folks to convert into Prime members. According to GeekWire, there are more than a few signs in the bookstore that explain the pricing changes, and provide information regarding a Prime membership. Furthermore, when customers are ready to purchase their items, they can get a 30-day free trial.
Even more noteworthy, as The Verge points out, the pricing change arrives amidst a climate that has not been too kind to bookstores. Borders experienced this all to keenly, and closed its doors a number of years ago, and now Barnes and Noble is struggling in its own right. In other words, bookstores need to stand out, and Amazon’s bookstores certainly do — at least for Prime members.