The Very Unscientific Tale of How Amazon First Set the Price of Prime

by Rachel Baker on March 15, 2014

This little story about how Amazon has no real process for Prime pricing annoys the crap out of me.

I paid for Amazon Prime for one year, and I think I shipped something once, but used it mostly for the lending library. As the year went on, the books on the lending library began to truly suck. Authors were probably happy as all get out because the books that would not have normally “made it” became best sellers…because they were free.

I, however, found nothing of an advantage to Prime and truly felt that I’d wasted my $79.00. Now, I find out the number was completely arbitrary.

Seventy-nine is, of course, a prime number. That’s not coincidental, but was mostly beside the point, according to people involved in Prime’s creation. The name actually referred to the “prime position” in Amazon’s warehouses for goods that were eligible to ship in two days at the flat rate, former Amazon executive Vijay Ravindran tweeted today.

It was “less about math cuteness,” he said.

Amazon considered pricing Prime at $49 or $99. Jeff Bezos, the chief executive, settled on $79 because “it needed to be large enough to matter to customers but small enough that they would be willing to try it out,” writes Brad Stone in his book about the company.

For more information, check out the website:

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