Amazon Prime started out as a service that let Amazon customers receive free 2-day shipping for $79 per year. But over the past year Amazon has sweetened the deal by launching a Netflix competitor called Prime instant videos and a Kindle Owners’ Lending Library that Kindle users borrow one book per month at no additional cost.

Now the company also has a way to sign up for Prime if you’re not convinced you want to spend $79 on a full 1-year membership.

Update: TechCrunch reports Amazon’s new monthly pricing is a “test” at this point.

Update 2And AllThingsD is reporting that the test has concluded. The monthly subscription option is no longer available.

Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime

Starting this week, customers in the US can also sign up for a new $7.99 per month plan. That comes to $95.88 per year, so you’d actually end up saving money if you paid for a full year in advance instead of one month at a time.

But for the same price as a Netflix watch instantly subscription, you can now access Amazon’s Prime Instant Video collection, digital book lending library, and get 2-day shipping on many items without signing up for a full year.

In other words, if you just want to watch all the episodes of a TV show in a marathon session that’ll take less than a month, you can sign up for just the month.

The move makes a lot of sense for Amazon. The company already offers Kindle Fire tablet owners a free 1-month trial of Amazon Prime to get them hooked. By offering a month-to-month option, the company gives those customers a chance to keep their subscription going without forking out $79 all at once. It also lets potential customers that don’t own a Kindle device try out the service without making a long-term commitment.

Amazon’s business model is also quite different from Netflix’s. While Amazon lets you borrow books, stream movies, and get free shipping — the more you use those services the more likely you are (theoretically) to buy stuff that’s not available for free from Amazon because you’re now familiar with the ecosystem… and you don’t have to pay extra for shipping.

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