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Amazon increases Prime membership fee to $99 per year

Amazon's Prime service, which offers free streaming video and book borrowing to Apple iOS device users, has seen its annual price increase from $79 per year to $99 per year, while student members will also see a price hike.

The new annual fee marks the first time Amazon Prime has seen a price increase in its nine-year history. Amazon Student members will also now pay $49 per year for their membership.

Current Prime and Student members will be contacted via email by Amazon to provide the renewal date specific to their membership. The increase applies to existing customers set to renew after April 17. The Prime Fresh membership, which offers same-day grocery delivery in Los Angeles and San Francisco, will remain $299.

In its email announcing the change in pricing, Amazon noted that Prime subscriptions have remained unchanged "even as fuel and transportation costs have increased." It also noted that 20 million items are now available for two-day shipping, while 40,000 movies and TV shows are available on Prime Instant Video, and a half-million books can be borrowed for Kindle.

In addition to unlimited streaming with Prime Instant Video and book lending from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, Amazon Prime also comes with free unlimited two-day shipping for eligible purchases.

Video content available to stream for free through Prime can be accessed through the official Amazon Instant Video app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The software also includes built-in support for Apple's AirPlay wireless streaming, allowing content to be viewed on an HDTV via Apple TV.

Also available for Prime subscribers is the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which allows users to choose from more than 500,000 books to borrow with no due dates. Once titles have been borrowed from Amazon's website, they can be accessed through the official Kindle for iOS application.