Amazon shares some factoids on Prime — but still no member numbers

Amazon Package

Amazon released a few statistics about Amazon Prime, which offers members free two-day shipping and other perks for $79 a year. Well, “statistics” is the wrong word — they’re more like factoids. Just as Amazon won’t tell you how many Kindles it’s sold, the company also won’t share how many Prime members it has.

Monday morning’s release comes ahead of next week’s Amazon press event, where it is widely believed that Amazon will announce a new Kindle Fire and Kindle e-reader. The Kindle Fire comes with a free one-month trial of Amazon Prime.

The main announcement Monday is that the company “now ships more items with Prime Free Two-Day Shipping than with Free Super Saver Shipping — the program Amazon launched in 2002 that offers free shipping on orders over $25.” That isn’t particularly surprising because households with Prime tend to order a lot more stuff. Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter did a self-analysis last year and found his household placed seven times more Amazon orders after switching to Prime.

Most people with Prime would probably report a similar experience. After I switched to Amazon Prime, I started ordering nearly all of our household items from the service. The last five items I ordered were a dress, tights, a baby gift, an iPad case and Swiffer Dusters.

Analysts have tried to guess how many members Prime has. In February, Bloomberg released a super-sketchy report citing “people familiar with the matter” who say it has between three and five million members. Last November, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimated Prime would have 10 million members by the end of 2011. Again, Amazon hasn’t released any official data.

Here are some other tidbits from the release:

  • Top four items ordered with Prime: 1) Kindle Fire; 2) $79 (basic, non-touchscreen, ad-supported) Kindle; 3) Kindle Touch (they don’t specify if it’s the ad-supported model or not); 4) Fifty Shades of Grey.
  • “Amazon Prime now features more than 15 million unique items.”
  • The Prime Instant Video catalog, which offers free streaming to members, contains 22,000 movies and TV episodes. The most-watched TV show is “Downton Abbey, Season 1″ and the most-watched movie is the Swedish version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
  • The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which lets Prime members borrow one ebook for free each month, now offers more than 180,000 books. Amazon cites bestsellers like “The Hunger Games” and Harry Potter, but the vast majority of titles in the KOLL are self-published.
  • Totally my favorite: “Amazon Prime members could order 500 different items with Prime Free Two-Day Shipping every day of their lives and still not order every Prime item.” In other words, you could order 500 items every day for 82 years.
  • Amazon Prime’s annual price, $79, hasn’t changed since it was launched seven years ago. I suspect many Prime members wouldn’t be bothered by a price hike — to, say, $99 — but the press release does not make it sound as if Amazon is considering that.

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