Amazon is now offering customers its Amazon Prime membership as a gift for friends, family, and other acquaintances, the company announced today.

The move makes sense since the official start of the holiday shopping season is just a week away. It also might make for a good substitute for the impersonal gift card purchase, even if it’s just a wee bit more than the average gift card purchase at $79 per year.

The Amazon Prime memberships offer people “free” two-day shipping on most items sold through the retail giant. The service is attractive to customers because those shipping fees aren’t factored into individual purchases. Prime members also gain access to a free library of on-demand streaming video content, including a slew of new originally produced shows from Amazon Studios.

And if you’ve every been curious as to why Prime memberships matter, then wonder no more: It comes down to boosting revenue. The basic idea is that if you have a Prime account, you’ll end up spending more money through Amazon than if you were just a regular customer. (Evidently it works quite well, and I can at least vouch for myself and other family members).

Get more stories like this on TwitterFacebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection., Inc. seeks to be Ea... All Amazon news »

Track Amazon's Landscape to stay on top of the industry. Access the entire ecosystem, track innovation & deals. Learn more.