If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, shopping at the online retailer just got a little more expensive.
Amazon offers free shipping on many of its products if customers spend more than a certain amount, but the company has quietly raised that minimum purchase requirement from $35 to $49.
For book lovers, however, there is a loophole: If your order contains $25 worth of eligible books, your shipping will be free. (Eligible books are those fulfilled and shipped by Amazon.) The free shipping on other products only applies to those sold by Amazon and select third-party sellers.
The price increase likely stems from Amazon’s recent efforts to pull in more Prime subscribers, who pay $99 a year for instant video and free two-day shipping on many products. Although Amazon has kept information about how many people use the service hush hush, Re/Codeestimates that it has at least 46 million subscribers.
The prices for Amazon services have crept up in recent years, including for its Prime customers. The Prime membership was once available to customers for $79, but that changed in 2014 when the company raised rates to $99 a year and released its music streaming service not long after. Unlike many subscription-based services, Amazon requires members to pay the cost of the full year up front rather than on a monthly basis, although the site advertises special discounts.
The latest price jump may be designed to offset the cost of Prime users taking advantage of free shipping — the fact that Amazon loses money because of the cost associated with Prime shipping is well documented. Back in January, the company’s stock dipped after Amazon spent $4.55 billion to fulfill customers’ orders, up from $3.4 billion in the same quarter a year ago,MarketWatch reported.
If the company can push users to spend more or subscribe, it’ll be a win-win for the retailing behemoth. Non-Prime members, however, won’t be so fortunate.