Amazon Prime Is Still the Best Deal in Tech

Today, the fateful news came down that Amazon will finally increase the cost of an Amazon Prime membership. Horrors! Except, not really. Because even at $99 a year, Amazon Prime is still the single biggest bargain in tech.

On the face of it, the increase from $79 to $99 seems dramatic. That's a 25 percent bump, not even pegged to any flashy new offering. It's the same Prime, just... more expensive. If a gas station or your barber or the subway (or Subway) or basically anyone else hiked up their prices by that much overnight, you would be justifiably outraged. But Amazon Prime isn't anyone else.

We've been through this before, but it's worth recounting what that $99 per year—$8.25 per month, or as I like to call it, "basically a sandwich"—gets you. Free two-day shipping, yes, but also cheaper overnight shipping. Access to Prime Instant Video, a streaming service that's gotten a lot better since the last time you checked, and now includes exclusive rights to Justified, Downton Abbey, Orphan Black, and a bunch of other shows your friends keep telling you to watch. Entry into the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which amounts to getting a free book every month. And all of that is going to be joined in the very near future by a streaming music service.

Paying eight bucks a month for all of that is more than paying $6.50 a month for it, sure. Yay, math! But it's also still insane. Like, wolf-face crazy. Like, you-would-hire-Crispin-Glover-to-play-it-in-a-movie crazy.

Let's put this one other way. You pay eight bucks a month for Netflix. Pretty soon Prime, also eight bucks a month, will be Netflix plus Pandora plus free shipping plus free ebook. It's your own personal budget Voltron, and less than two bucks more a month doesn't change that.

Still not convinced? Here's a final dollop of perspective. Until now, Amazon Prime has cost the same as it did when it first launched—and when it only offered only free shipping—nine years ago. That is absurd! Adjusted for inflation, $79 in 2005 comes out to about $95 in 2014 money. Which means that the real-money increase since Amazon birthed Prime is four dollars a year—thirty three cents per month—for which you get the added benefits of streaming, and books, and (probably) music, and whatever else is coming down the line.

So yes, Amazon Prime is about to be more expensive. But you know what? It's still a steal. And you'd be crazy to quit now.