Linked: The Origins of Amazon Prime

Jason Del Rey put together this oral history of how Amazon Prime came to be and evolved into what we think of today.

This is the story of how the greatest retail innovation of the internet age was created, in the face of sound logic and reason that suggested it might very well be disastrous. It’s also a story of how a frankly bland idea — fast shipping — was powerful enough to alter consumer psychology forever. …

The story is told by the rank-and-file employees and the top company executives who built Prime.

Prime shipping in Japan operates differently as even free shipping often takes only one or two days. Instead, being a Prime subscriber allows you to choose your delivery date and time when you order. Even this is somewhat less useful as the couriers are very accommodating and generally allow you to choose your delivery time in advance.

Despite offering video services here in Japan, I still think of Prime as a shipping service primarily. Though English content is widely available, it is all subtitled in Japanese, and can’t be disabled. They’re distracting so I avoid them at all costs.

Given my lukewarm feelings for the service, I didn’t expect to enjoy this article as much as I did. I think I enjoyed seeing how they were able to make it work and how the gambles they undertook ultimately paid off.