To Prime or Not to Prime? Amazon that is... - Jo-Ann Carson

To Prime or Not to Prime? Amazon that is…

It depends on where you live.
That’s the short answer. Amazon Prime is offered in many countries around the world and the benefits range, greatly.
I thought I could get the same benefits as the Americans,  minus the TV streaming. That’s not the case in Canada, but I’ll get to those details later. First my ethical struggle.

My Ethical Struggle

I read a lot of books. It is an expensive, but wonderful addiction. The thought of being able to borrow some of them is tempting.
But I also write books. I am happy to be part of the lending program through Amazon. People who have Prime in the US and some other countries can borrow my books for free. What I like about the program is that it gets my work out to a larger audience. People who might not buy my book, will borrow it and read it.
My pocketbook isn’t so happy though. When a person borrows one of my books and reads it, I make pennies, which are calculated with fancy formulas based on the pages they read and the income of a financial fund. When readers buy one of my books I make 70% of the sale (note: my books are cheap – i.e., all priced under $2.99 USD).
My goal is to grow readers, but I have to admit having coffee money makes me smile.
So my initial quandary was do I “Prime” and give my fellow authors less money for their work, or do I continue to pay the full price. One could rationalize that I would read more with Prime, but I don’t think I could read any more than I already do.

My Research

I decided to look closer at Amazon Prime. The first thing I learned was that I couldn’t be a part of the US plan. The second thing I learned was that Canada’s prime is significantly different.
“Amazon offers Prime services in a number of global markets. According to an Amazon representative, the company currently offers Amazon Prime (renamed Amazon Premium in several markets) in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria… Although fast shipping, free photo storage, and early access to sales remain the same in each country, the specifics can vary dramatically.” (Neil Underleider, What Amazon Prime is Like Around the World).
Here are my notes:
US Prime ($99. USD)

  • video streaming
  • ad-free music streaming
  • free book rentals
  • shippping and photo deals

Canada ($79. Cdn)

  • no video streaming
  • no book rentals
  • shipping and photo deals

Japan ($32. USD)

  • video streaming
  • free book rentals
  • customized shipping (different from other countries)

Germany ($54. USD +)

  • video streaming
  • free book rentals (for an additional cost)
  • customized shipping (different from other countries)

France ($54. USD)

  • no video streaming
  • I’m not sure about book rentals
  • customized shipping (different from other countries)

Italy and Spain ($22. USD)

  • no video streaming
  • I’m not sure about book rentals
  • shipping and photo deals

UK ($115. USD – and yes they are not happy about the price)

  • video streaming
  • book rentals
  • same-day delivery in major cities

My Decision

If I were to get video streaming and free, book rentals then I would hop on the Amazon ship, despite my ethical concerns. As it stands the Prime offer is not worth the cost for me. I do order paperbacks, but I always make my orders large enough that I don’t pay shipping. The Amazon Prime program in Canada offers me little.

shutterstock_104723360 (1)What do you think?

References: Neil Underleider, What Amazon Prime is Like Around the World and Amazon sites.
Photo Credits: Feature photo of earth from Pixabay, Question mark from Shutterstock, Ad created on Canva

Wishing you a happy July.



0 Replies to “To Prime or Not to Prime? Amazon that is…”

  1. I’m with you. And I’ll add another. Kindle Fires in the US are great. Amazon basically subsidizes them to get people on board. In Canada they’re basically expensive coasters to put coffee on. I am amazed they give Canadians so little.

  2. I have an American PO box, so I have an American Amazon account and am eligible for the US prime (although I think my IP might mess up the video streaming). It’s an interesting dilemma, but I prefer to pay because I tend to red in waves and some months will not be worth the cost for prime. 🙂

    1. I get the reading in waves. I’m the same. It’s like the Prime deal is almost good enough to snatch, but not quite. Thanks for your feedback. I envy your American PO box.

  3. I have a very good friend in Canada who is also an avid reader and we discussed this over the years. It is definitely a big advantage to live in the U.S. when it comes to Amazon. It doesn’t seem fair.

  4. Hi Gina,
    No it doesn’t feel fair.
    But in deference to Amazon, I think the blame lies with our Canadian laws, which try to protect “Canadian identity,” which is silly, protectionist garbage.
    Oh well. At least we can order books:)
    Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your story Gina. It’s always great to hear from you.
    Best Wishes

  5. Reading (and buying) books is more complicated for authors, even more so for Canadians. Whether it’s reaching for the cross-border audience or opting for a funded domestic publisher. I’m not trying to earn a living on fiction, but I too want fellow authors to get their maximum payment when I read one of their titles. Unless I won it in a contest or got it as a gift (Thanks again for Covert Danger! It’s next in my queue.) I don’t think I’d use Prime either for the shipping benefits. When I order goods from Amazon, I’m careful to select only items that qualify for free shipping in Canada and I make sure my order meets the minimum (I think it’s only $25, but it’s been awhile.) My only real gripe with Amazon at the moment is that they force Kindle Unlimited titles to have exclusivity. My latest 2 books don’t appear on Kobo’s site, at Chapters, or via B&N. That’s got to rule out a certain number of sales. Many of my would-be readers in Canada own Kobos purchased at Chapters. Amazon’s AZW files are unreadable on the Kobo of course. I posted a how-to on converting to the Kobo-friendly epub format. What are the chances anyone’s going to take me up on it? Slim, I’ll bet. So I’ll keep looking for new readers south of the border. C’est la vie.

    1. Hi Christine,
      I hear you – about the Amazon Select program. It can feel very restrictive, but it`s also my best friend.
      When I started publishing, a little over a year ago, I put my books up on all the sales platforms (i.e., Kobo, Apple, Nook and some smaller ones) as soon as my first three month Select program was over. I thought, and many writers at the time thought the same, that I would reach more readers if I was available in more places, but the result was a drastic drop in sales. The other platforms don’t give people like me, a beginning writer with a small following, support. So I removed my books from the other platforms and returned them to the Amazon Select Program.
      Let me explain for those who aren`t familiar with what I`m talking about. Being in the Amazon Select program means I can`t be sold elsewhere, but it also means I get sales. My sales picked up as soon as I opted back into the program. I won`t go to the other sales platforms again, unless my work is well enough known that they will feature me.
      I like your idea of letting people know how to convert files, so that they can read them on other devices. I also suggest people download the free Kindle app and read books on their tablets, laptops or phones. I suspect over time, some of these readers may warm up to Amazon.
      I know from my blog that over-ninety percent of my readers are American and that works for me.
      I`d love to reach a larger audience, but I suspect a lot of that takes time and good luck. I`m hoping for both.
      I hope you like Covert Danger.
      Happy writing, and thank you for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
      Best Wishes

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