Given all the benefits, there really aren't that many cons to an Amazon Prime membership that don't come around to the price. But that price keeps rising, and may be a hefty cost for shoppers if they don't frequently purchase items online. At $119 per year, it is worth examining how many benefits you will actually use with a membership to see if it is worth the expense.
However, once he runs out of facts a couple of chapters into the book, Underhill pads the rest of the book out with opinions, and this is where the problems begin. While he may be an excellent observer, Underhill is a poor business analyst. He doesn't understand the dynamics of many of the businesses he comments on. Many of his suggestions are embarassingly ignorant of the realities behind the businesses he discuss, or, worse, suggest--as if he invented the concepts-- that companies should do things that they have already been doing for years.
Even considering that the teams launching private-label brands at Amazon have unrestricted access to programs like Vine reviews, they are still “paying” for these perks. The Vine review program is not a fully automated process that runs in the background. It requires technical and human resources to manage thousands of Vine reviewers and product review requests from vendors. Amazon is matching reviewers with samples and shipping the samples out, managing customer service, and maintaining the infrastructure of the program. You can bet that there are heated internal battles for Vine review program privileges on new product launches, even if the internal team is not personally dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on the activity like brands have to do.
There need not be a documentary about the Syrian catastrophe to rally the world around its cause—just as, in Matthew Heineman’s previous film, Cartel Land, there was no need to vilify the world of Mexican cartels or the DEA or the paramilitaristic nationalists patrolling our Southern borders to confirm that murder and drug trafficking are bad. The threats are known and the stakes understood, at least conceptually. And yet, by offering dedicated, deeply intimate portraits of the people caught up in these crises, Heineman complicates them beyond all repair, placing himself in undoubtedly death-defying situations to offer a perspective whose only bias is instinctual. So it is with City of Ghosts, in which he follows members of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group committed to using citizen-based journalism to expose the otherwise covered-up atrocities committed by ISIS and the Assad regime in Syria. In hiding, in Turkey and Germany and at an event for journalists in the U.S.—in exile—these men, who Heineman characterizes as a very young and even more reluctant resistance, tell of both the increasingly sophisticated multimedia methods of ISIS and their hopes for feeling safe enough to settle and start a family with equal trepidation about what they’ve conditioned themselves to never believe: That perhaps they’ll never be safe. Heineman could have easily bore witness to the atrocities himself, watching these men as they watch, over and over, videos of their loved ones executed by ISIS, a piquant punishment for their crimes of resistance. There is much to be said about the responsibility of seeing in our world today, after all. Instead, while City of Ghosts shares plenty of horrifying images, the director more often that not shields the audience from the graphic details, choosing to focus his up-close camera work on the faces of these men as they take on the responsibility of bearing witness, steeling themselves for a potential lifetime of horror in which everything they know and love will be taken from them. By the time Heineman joins these men as they receive the 2015 International Press Freedom Award for their work, the clapping, beaming journalists in the audience practically indict themselves, unable to see how these Syrian men want to be doing anything but what they feel they must, reinforcing the notion that what seems to count as international reportage anymore is the exact kind of lack of nuance that Heineman so beautifully, empathetically wants to call out. —Dom Sinacola
Amazon Prime membership in Germany, the United Kingdom, India, and the United States also provides Amazon Video, the instant streaming of selected movies and TV shows at no additional cost. In November 2011, it was announced that Prime members have access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which allows users to borrow certain popular Kindle e-books for free reading on Kindle hardware, up to one book a month, with no due date.