Not Amazon Prime? That’ll cost you at Amazon’s physical bookstores

A view of Amazon Book's magazine seating area in Seattle, dotted with Amazon Fire tablets that just so happen to be pre-loaded with magazines. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Seattle's flagship Amazon Books retail location has begun rolling out a new approach to sales: one book price for normal shoppers and a different one for Amazon Prime customers.

The store used to kinda-sorta hide its actual book prices from retail shoppers, forcing them to scan book bar codes either with an Amazon smartphone app or at a store kiosk. That would allow them to see the book's price on Amazon's website. This, of course, was the shop's biggest draw: that buyers could get a book at Amazon prices without waiting for shipping.

Now, as the Amazon stores' official site explains, the only shoppers that will get to do that are those who have active Prime subscriptions. All other shoppers will pay the list book price—which, of course, Amazon undercuts. A cursory check of the books I noticed at my first visit to the shop last year shows average discounts hovering around the 30 percent mark. Further cutting in to the ability to offer a deal, Amazon Books does not offer bargain-bin sections where books are marked down due to age or other factors.

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