Amazon’s Critics Get New Life With Trump’s Attacks on the Company


Some are concerned about the president’s motivations for his attacks, which people close to Mr. Trump have said are often triggered by negative coverage of his administration in The Washington Post, a newspaper owned personally by Mr. Bezos. Mr. Trump has mingled his attacks on Amazon and the newspaper in some tweets, including one in early April slamming “the Fake News Washington Post, Amazon’s ‘chief lobbyist.’”

Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute, a think tank that has become a vocal critic of the power of tech companies, said he believed Amazon was worthy of action by regulators in part because of its power in the book market. But he also said he found Mr. Trump’s efforts to “personalize law enforcement” troubling.

“What he’s doing is a threat to democracy, but so is Amazon,” Mr. Stoller said. “That’s the dilemma.”

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Since Amazon purchased Whole Foods last year, it has become a bigger concern for labor unions like the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

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Drew Anthony Smith for The New York Times

Still, early this month, after Mr. Trump launched another Twitter tirade against Amazon’s deal with the Postal Service, Mr. Stoller jumped on board on Twitter.

The most direct effort to tap Mr. Trump’s hostility toward Amazon was an advertisement last month about the contract to provide cloud computing services to the Defense Department — worth up to $10 billion, by some estimates. The ad, with a picture of Mr. Bezos looking chummy next to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, appeared in the president’s favorite hometown tabloid.

“I had never seen that before,” Katell Thielemann, an analyst who follows the government technology contracting market for the research firm Gartner, said of the attack ad.

The ad was placed by Less Government, which calls itself a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. Seton Motley, who runs the group, did not respond to requests for comment. He has said in interviews that he funded the ad himself. It’s unclear who backs the group, but there are large tech companies, some with connections to Mr. Trump, that have expressed their unhappiness with how the contract is structured.

The contract came up in a dinner this month with Mr. Trump and Safra Catz, co-chief executive of Oracle, according to a person briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the details are confidential. Ms. Catz told the president that the way the Defense Department had written the contract, awarding it to just one vendor, was an advantage to Amazon, the person said.

So far, Mr. Trump hasn’t publicly expressed concern about Amazon’s bid for the contract. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Trump recently escalated his attacks on Amazon with a presidential order to review the Postal Service’s financial model, which he has denounced on Twitter as money-losing because of favorable deals worked out with Amazon. (The Postal Service denies that deals like its one with Amazon are unprofitable.)

“The playing field has to be leveled,” he told reporters this month, promising to take a serious look at policies that might affect Amazon.

Mr. Trump’s Amazon attacks have amplified criticisms that have been building for years among research groups and trade organizations that represent Amazon’s rivals.

They have produced studies that say Amazon’s warehouses — which employ more than 125,000 full-time workers in the United States — don’t increase total local employment because of losses in other sectors. They also question the wisdom of subsidies to attract them. The American Booksellers Association, which represents independent bookstores, recently published a similar report on Amazon’s economic impact.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, one of the largest private-sector unions in the country, representing 1.3 million workers in grocery stores and related industries, said Amazon’s investments in automation would hurt workers. Since it bought Whole Foods last year, Amazon has become one of the union’s top concerns.

Asked about Mr. Trump’s attacks on Amazon, Marc Perrone, president of the union, said: “Allowing Amazon’s unchecked growth to continue will lead to the destruction of millions of American jobs. Which begs the question: Why aren’t all Democrats and Republicans speaking out?”

A spokesman for Amazon declined to comment.

When Mr. Trump bashes Amazon for not collecting taxes, he is echoing long-running criticism of the company by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan research organization. Amazon collects sales tax in states that have one for items it sells directly to shoppers, but in most states it does not when shoppers buy merchandise from independent merchants on Amazon.

Other critics — from technology pundits to a former chief executive of Walmart U.S. — have called for antitrust action against Amazon by the government, including a breakup of the company.

Amazon’s defense is that — even as it has swelled into a giant, with over $177 billion in revenue last year — its share of overall retail sales is still small, estimated to be in the mid-single digits in the United States. This, along with Amazon’s emphasis on keeping prices low, has made it challenging for opponents to spark action under current antitrust law, which is primarily focused on consumer harm.

It’s unclear if Mr. Trump can do much to get antitrust enforcers at the Federal Trade Commission or Justice Department, which are supposed to keep politics out of competition cases, to act against Amazon. But his executive order asking for a review of the Postal Service, including its relationship with customers like Amazon, could lead to changes unfavorable to the company.

In a recent opinion piece about Mr. Trump’s attacks on Amazon, the social critic Thomas Frank said he didn’t believe Mr. Trump would use antitrust laws to challenge Amazon, even though Mr. Frank would approve of such a move.

“I don’t like Amazon, and I don’t like Donald Trump either,” he wrote in The Guardian, the British newspaper.

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DealBook Briefing: Did Jeff Bewkes Help Time Warner’s Cause in Court?


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William Hejl, a farmer worried by the threat of Chinese tariffs.

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Dan Koeck for The New York Times

The timeline for a potential U.S.-China trade war

As the U.S. and China continue to posture over trade — alarming U.S. farmers, many of whom are in key electoral districts in the Midwest — it’s worth noting three upcoming dates, Peter Eavis writes.

On May 1, exemptions to the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum expire.

On May 22, the public comment period ends for another $50 billion worth of tariffs, and the Trump administration can announce a final list of targets.

And Aug. 18 is potentially the deadline for the administration to act on an investigation into Chinese trade practices. But there’s a provision for a 180-day delay after that.

Key caveats: President Trump has the power to pursue trade policy almost at whim. And a W.T.O. proceeding against China could take years.

Elsewhere in trade: How Qualcomm became collateral damage in the fight (China says its takeover of NXP Semiconductors has “hard to resolve” issues), while Washington continues to fret about Chinese tech. Rusal is betting on China for relief from U.S. sanctions. What worries the Fed about trade. And why Wall Street and trading allies increasingly ignore presidential statements.

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Assembling a rifle at the Sturm, Ruger & Co. factory.

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Eric Thayer/Reuters

Breaking: Amalgamated presses Sturm, Ruger on gun limits

The politically minded bank already adopted principles for limiting firearm sales laid out by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. Now it’s using its position as a (small) shareholder in Sturm, Ruger to urge the gun maker to adopt six Everytown principles.

Among them: Supporting mandatory background checks for all sales; binding sellers to a code of conduct; and adopting smart-gun tech. If Ruger doesn’t support those principles, Amalgamated would withhold votes for Sandra Froman, a Ruger director who’s also on the N.R.A.’s board.

Elsewhere in gun sales: Dicks’s Sporting Goods plans to destroy its stock of assault-style rifles.

The political flyaround

• Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York wants to change state law to allow repeat criminal charges against offenders granted a presidential pardon. An adviser to President Trump warned that Michael Cohen could flip. And meet the judge in his case, Kimba Wood.

• Karen McDougal and the publisher of the National Enquirer have settled. She can now publicly discuss her claim to have had an affair with Mr. Trump, who is spared the risk of legal proceedings. (NYT)

• A resolution demanding that Scott Pruitt quit the E.P.A. attracted signatures from 170 Democratic lawmakers. (The Hill)

• Ted Cruz’s Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, is within 3 points in the latest Quinnipiac poll. (Axios)

• The Senate voted to overturn an Obama-era rule restricting car lenders from discriminating against minorities. (NYT)

• The S.E.C. voted to move ahead with public consultations on a rule requiring brokers to put clients’ “best interest” first. (Bloomberg)

• The rise and fall of the lobbyist Tony Podesta. (WSJ)

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Jason Redmond/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The most important part of Jeff Bezos’s annual letter

It’s the disclosure that Prime now has over 100 million members. These are Amazon’s stickiest and most valuable customers, who order often and can access its streaming service. The company had $9.72 billion in revenue from subscription services, including Prime fees.

Mr. Bezos also talks about the importance of “high standards” for his digital behemoth. (And about yoga handstands.)

Elsewhere in Amazon: The company is moving its entertainment division to the Culver Studios, where “Raging Bull” and “E.T.” were made.

The tech flyaround

• Facebook is reportedly designing chips, and working to move 1.5 billion users worldwide beyond the reach of European data privacy rules. An Irish watchdog still has qualms about its facial recognition. And ad agencies are seeking substitutes for its hoard of personal data.

• Uber is reportedly in talks to hire VMware’s Zane Rowe as C.F.O., to help prepare an I.P.O. next year. The last of Otto’s founders, Don Burnette, has left Uber.

• Qualcomm has begun cutting about 1,500 jobs. (Bloomberg)

• Intel is closing its wearable tech group. (CNBC)

• Tencent, JD.com and others will put $437 million into a unit of the embattled tech conglomerate LeEco. (FT)

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Goldman’s big task: looking less like the Goldman of old

As the firm moves more into consumer businesses — pushing its Marcus online lending platform, buying Adam Dell’s budget-planning app — it is looking less like a traditional investment bank and trading house and more like a one-stop shop. Like the universal banks JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup.

But the shift carries plenty of risk. “It goes against their history as a firm; they’ve no track record of expanding consumer, commercial or corporate banking,” the analyst Brian Kleinhanzl of KBW told the FT.

Elsewhere in banking: Credit Suisse and UBS are reportedly in talks to combine some of their back-office operations. The activist investor Edward Bramson has built a 5 percent stake in Barclays and wants to wind down its trading division, unnamed sources told the London Evening Standard.

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William P. O’Donnell/The New York Times

The deals flyaround

• Bankers for Meredith have reportedly ruled out the National Enquirer owner A.M.I. as a bidder for Time, Fortune, Inc. and Sports Illustrated, rejecting a $300 million offer. (Vanity Fair)

• P.&G. agreed to buy Merck of Germany’s consumer health business for $4.2 billion. (WSJ)

• Total of France agreed to buy Direct Energie, a utility focused on clean energy, for $1.7 billion. (NYT)

• Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and Jon Gray of Blackstone butted heads over a potential debt deal at a recent lunch. (Bloomberg)

• The U.K. will reportedly approve Melrose Industries’ bid for GKN. (FT)

• Avenue Capital is reportedly planning a social-impact debt fund. (Reuters)

• Bon-Ton Stores is going out of business. (WSJ)

• Grail, a cancer-detection start-up backed by Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, is reportedly working to raise $1 billion. RealSelf, an online hub for cosmetic surgery information, has raised $40 million. And Green Bits, which makes software to help cannabis dispensaries stay legal, has raised $17 million from Tiger Global Management and others.

Revolving door

• Cerberus Capital Management has hired the former JPMorgan Chase C.O.O. Matt Zames as president. Frank Bruno, a Cerberus veteran, will become co-C.E.O. alongside Stephen Feinberg. (WSJ)

• Wynn Resorts has added three women to its board: Dee Dee Myers, who was a White House spokeswoman in the Clinton administration; Betsy Atkins, an advocate of stronger corporate governance; and Wendy Webb, a former investor-relations chief for Disney. (Bloomberg)

• Deutsche Bank’s C.O.O., Kim Hammonds, and investor-relations chief, John Andrews, are leaving. (WSJ)

• GlaxoSmithKline has hired Kevin Sin from Genentech as a top internal deal maker. (Reuters)

• Jana Partners has hired Dan Hanson, once of BlackRock, and Pulkit Agarwal, formerly of the International Finance Corporation, to work on its social impact investing fund. (Reuters)

The speed read

• The highest-ranking civil servant in Japan’s Finance Ministry resigned after accusations that he had sexually harassed female journalists. (NYT)

• Starbucks will become a test case for training to combat unconscious bias; its effectiveness is still a matter for debate. (NYT)

• Coastal communities are no longer the only ones suing fossil-fuel companies over the costs of climate change. (NYT)

• Porsche’s headquarters in Germany were raided by the police yesterday as part of an investigation into emissions cheating. (NYT)

• The departing editor of Harper’s Magazine, James Marcus, said he had been fired for opposing the publication of a contrarian essay on #MeToo. The magazine disputes that. (NYT)

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Amazon Reboots the Studio Where ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘E.T.’ Were Made


As a string of owners struggled to adapt to changing audience tastes, new technology and rising costs, vast sections of the campus were sold. (Condominiums now occupy part of the area where Selznick ignited monumental outdoor sets to simulate the burning of Atlanta.) As waves of consolidation buffeted the movie business and fewer films were made, idling some of Culver Studios’ stages, the facility turned to television production to pay its bills, much like Hollywood as a whole.

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Jennifer Salke, chairwoman of Amazon Studios, took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the $12 million restoration of four studio buildings.

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Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times

By 2004, when a struggling Sony sold the property, years of underinvestment had taken a toll. The old star bungalows were in poor repair. Soundstages were outdated. The mansion smelled like Grandma’s house. “It needed a lot of work, to say the least,” Mr. Hackman said. (Contrary to popular belief, the mansion was not Tara in “Gone With the Wind.”)

Amazon, which has roughly 700 entertainment employees, began moving staff here late last year. More will follow as buildings are completed.

“It’s about recognizing the traditions and legacy of Hollywood, while also recognizing that we have the ability to reshape it,” Mr. Cheng, chief operating officer of Amazon Studios, said of the decision to make Culver Studios the unit’s headquarters.

Last month, Amazon said it would also lease a four-story building that is going up across the street, giving its Hollywood division a total of 355,000 square feet of office space in Culver City. (Apple recently leased a building three blocks away for its own original content group.)

Amazon revealed Wednesday that more than 100 million people globally had a Prime membership, which includes access to its streaming service, and the company is expected to spend $5 billion on movies and television programming this year, according to the J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth. Its 44 original series include “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Man in the High Castle.” Amazon has at least 10 movies in various stages of production, including “Life Itself,” a highly anticipated romance set for release on Sept. 21.

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Trump Targets a Postal Service Rainmaker: Package Delivery


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Amazon is the Postal Service’s largest single shipper of packages, and while the post office is delivering fewer first-class letters each year, package delivery has grown.

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Houston Cofield for The New York Times

The Postal Service has many financial woes, but the health of its package delivery service is not one of them.

As the agency struggles to pay for retiree health benefits and adjust to a world where people mail fewer letters each year, an otherwise dismal balance sheet has a bright spot: it is delivering more and more packages, a reflection of the boom in e-commerce.


Packages and Shipping Services

The Postal Service has described its package business as a source of financial growth, but President Trump wants more. He issued an executive order late Thursday creating a task force to “conduct a thorough evaluation” of the Postal Service’s operations and finances, including the “expansion and pricing of the package delivery market.”

In repeated jabs on Twitter, Mr. Trump has accused Amazon, the e-commerce giant that is the Postal Service’s largest single shipper of packages, of being a drain on the 242-year-old agency.

But on a single day in December — Monday, Dec. 18 — the post office delivered more than 37 million packages, a record.

During the quarter that includes the 2017 holiday season — historically the Postal Service’s strongest period of the year — revenue from first-class mail slid by 4.4 percent from the same period a year earlier. Total mail volume, which has been slipping for years, depressed in part by email, was down by 2 billion pieces, or 5 percent.

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Facebook Takes the Punches While Rest of Silicon Valley Ducks


For now, at least.

Before Mr. Zuckerberg testified on Tuesday, Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters to Mr. Pichai and Mr. Dorsey with 14 questions. In his letter to Google, Mr. Grassley wanted to “understand how Google manages and monitors user privacy for the significant amounts of data which it collects.”

[2 days, 10 hours, 600 questions: Read about what happened when Mark Zuckerberg went to Washington.]

The companies have until April 25 to respond. When asked whether they were concerned about congressional or regulatory scrutiny, Google and Twitter, though company representatives, declined to comment.

“Outside of Facebook, there is probably no company paying more attention” than Google, said Jason Kint, a frequent critic of Google and Facebook and chief executive of Digital Content Next, a trade group that represents entertainment and news organizations, including The New York Times. “They’re absolutely ducking for cover while the heat is on Facebook. They don’t want to try to trip any alarms.”

Like Facebook, Google collects vast amount of data on users — including their YouTube choices, internet searches, and location history — to target advertisements. While Facebook has more than 2 billion users globally, Google has seven products, including YouTube, Gmail and its Android software, with more than a billion users each.

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Mark Zuckerberg, questioned about Facebook’s tracking of logged-off users, pointed out that Google and “the rest of the industry” employed similar tactics.

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Tom Brenner/The New York Times

On Wednesday, when Representative John Shimkus, Republican of Illinois, questioned Facebook’s tracking of logged-off users, Mr. Zuckerberg was quick to point out that Google and “the rest of the industry” employed similar tactics. It was one of the few times Google’s data practices were mentioned in the two days of hearings.

Mr. Zuckerberg didn’t get a chance to say much more about Facebook’s industry peers this week. Over two days of hearings, Google was referenced 11 times by lawmakers. Twitter was mentioned 10 times and Amazon once. Apple was mentioned three times, mostly in passing.

Google employees said they have not received explicit order from management to keep a low profile because most already understand the risk. One employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because workers were not allowed to speak publicly on the issue, said there is an understanding inside Google that the company is the obvious next target.

In a statement, Aaron Stein, a Google spokesman, said the company is “completely focused on protecting our users’ data” and “will take action” if it finds evidence of “deceptive behavior or misuse of personal data.”

Google has been criticized — even fined — for its privacy practices over the years. It paid a $17 million fine to settle a case when it bypassed privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser to track users and show them advertisements in 2011 and 2012. It also got dinged for scooping up people’s passwords, email and other personal information during its Street View mapping project.

Privacy advocates also criticized a Google social network, called Buzz, in 2010 for automatically including users’ email contact. Google eventually settled the matter with the Federal Trade Commission and agreed to strengthen an existing privacy program.

Google is staying on the sidelines in other ways. Four days before Mr. Zuckerberg was set to testify, Facebook surprised many in Washington when it endorsed the Honest Ads Act, a Senate bill that would require more transparency and stricter rules for political ads on the internet. Facebook’s endorsement was a reversal from its previous opposition, said a spokeswoman for one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia.

Mr. Warner and another co-sponsor, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, called on Twitter and Google to also back the bill. Twitter quickly responded with an endorsement. Google has not taken a public position.

Similarly, Facebook and Google had donated $200,000 each to a group opposing a California ballot initiative that proposes enabling Californians to sue companies for data breaches, among other things. Facebook this week dropped its opposition to the initiative, which organizers said is on track to appear on the November ballot in California.

Mr. Zuckerberg’s notes, which were photographed during the testimony, also contained a prepared response if lawmakers echoed criticism from Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, who has chided Facebook and other companies for collecting gobs of personal information about their users.

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Google’s main campus in Mountain View, Calif. The tech giant has been criticized and fined for its privacy practices over the years.

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Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times

“Lots of stories about apps misusing Apple data, never seen Apple notify people,” said the document. “Important you hold everyone to the same standard.”

Representatives for Facebook and Apple declined to comment on Mr. Zuckerberg’s notes.

Apple has long campaigned to draw a distinction between the way it operates and Facebook and Google.

“We’re not going to traffic in your personal life. I think it’s an invasion of privacy,” Mr. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, told MSNBC. “I think everybody needs to understand Silicon Valley is not monolithic.”

After users download Apple’s most recent software update for iPhones and iPads, released on March 29, their devices prominently display a message that Apple believes “privacy is a fundamental human right.” Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, said the update, which has been in the works for months, is designed to better inform users on its data practices and comply with Europe’s new data-privacy rules that take effect May 25 — not taunt Facebook.

When asked if it was worried about regulations for the industry stemming from new scrutiny of Facebook, Apple referred to recent comments Mr. Cook made to MSNBC. He said he typically believes “the best regulation is no regulation” but “I think we’re beyond that here.”

Amazon, for its part, has mirrored Google’s approach, staying silent despite the frequent attacks President Trump has made against the company on Twitter. Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, declined to comment.

Amazon uses shoppers’ purchase history to target ads, though Forrester Research estimated its advertising revenue last year was $2.5 billion, versus $39.9 billion for Facebook and $95.4 billion for Google.

Privacy advocates are also concerned about the tens of millions of Amazon Echo smart speakers and other voice-controlled devices that have put microphones in people’s homes.

Amazon’s top competitors for that business? Google and Apple.

Many tech companies understand that Washington’s renewed focus on privacy is likely to reach them soon, said Dean Garfield, head of the Information Technology Industry Council, a trade group representing the largest tech companies.

“The tide has shifted,” he said. “I don’t think this is passing us by.”

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Tech Tip: Moving Your E-Book Collection to One Device


Q. Is it possible to read Nook books on a Kindle? Is there an e-reader that handles books from multiple e-bookstores?

A. The Barnes & Noble Nook e-books and Amazon’s Kindle e-books use different formats, but dedicated users have shown it is possible to convert and read Nook books on an Amazon device. How you do it depends on the hardware you have — and can take some technical fiddling to copy over Nook books to a Kindle e-reader or Fire tablet.

Slinging e-books between two brands of e-readers is generally unsupported by all companies. It can also involve breaking the built-in copyright protections — so read all the fine print to fully understand what is allowed.

One approach is sideloading the Barnes & Noble Nook app (or even the Google Play store) for Android onto an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, which allows you to download and read your Nook books within their own app. You can find various book-moving tutorials for e-readers and Fire tablets online with a quick search.

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An inexpensive Android tablet loaded with all your favorite reading apps is one way to get the various branches of your personal digital library on one device.

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The New York Times

If you do not want to put a lot of effort into corralling all your digital books on one tablet, you can go another route. If you have an Android, iOS or Windows 10 tablet at your disposal, you can install the Nook, Kindle, Kobo and other e-book mobile apps there to unify your collection on one device. If you are looking to replace an old Nook e-reader with something more versatile, an inexpensive Android-based tablet stocked with e-book apps can serve as an all-purpose portable library for all your e-books.

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Is Amazon Bad for the Postal Service? Or Its Savior?


Yet there is a bright spot — its business of package shipping, including Amazon orders, which grew to 5.7 billion packages last year from 3.3 billion in 2008. Several years ago, the Postal Service added Sunday delivery for Amazon packages.

The agency reported a net loss of $2.7 billion on $69.6 billion in revenue during its last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, and faces huge retirement benefit obligations. Without Amazon’s business, the financial picture at the Postal Service would most likely be bleaker, many analysts say.

“It is one thing to demand better financial performance from the U.S.P.S., but something very different, in our view, to equate the U.S.P.S. financial struggles with the rise of Amazon,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird, a stock research firm, wrote in a research report on Tuesday. “If nothing else, the U.S.P.S. was already generating billions of dollars in operating losses well before Amazon became a large customer.”

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According to one estimate, about 40 percent of Amazon’s orders are delivered by the Postal Service.

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Mike Segar/Reuters

Of course, Amazon very much depends on the Postal Service to take their packages the last mile to their destination. By one estimate, about 40 percent of Amazon’s orders are delivered by the agency, with the rest handled by U.P.S., FedEx and a hodgepodge of other carriers.

Companies that do a lot of shipping, like Amazon, often negotiate deals with the Postal Service to pay less than an ordinary person would to send goods. It is essentially a discount for buying in bulk.

That is where the president seems to be focused, and partly why Amazon’s stock has fallen sharply in the last week. Its shares are down more than 20 points — nearly 1.5 percent — since March 28.

But the Postal Service says all such deals it makes are profitable — and must be by law.

An independent body, the Postal Regulatory Commission, oversees the rates that the Postal Service charges for its products. By law, the agreements it cuts with corporate customers like Amazon must cover their “attributable costs” that directly result from their use of the postal network.

Amazon helps lower those costs by organizing the packages it takes to the Post Office by destination ZIP code in over 35 sorting centers around the country, leaving less work that must be done by postal workers. The company relies on the Postal Service strictly for last-mile delivery to customers, short trips that further limit the cost of delivering each package.

But in one of his tweet attacks, Mr. Trump seemed to dispute whether Amazon was covering the Postal Service’s costs, saying that “it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.”

Mr. Trump’s figure appears to have come from an opinion piece published last year in The Wall Street Journal and written by an investor whose firm held shares in FedEx. The piece argued that the Postal Service was undercharging for the agency’s fixed costs, like its post offices and trucks, when calculating its package contracts. The investor said that the minimum amount that the agency allocates to package delivery and similar products — 5.5 percent of the agency’s total fixed costs — is far too low.

The piece relied on a research report from last April by Citigroup, which said that if those costs were fairly accounted for, it would cost $1.46 more to ship an average package through the Postal Service. Joseph Corbett, the chief financial officer of the Postal Service, previously and said it provided an “inaccurate and unfair account” of its package business.

While the Postal Service is subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, there is an exemption in the federal law that allows it to avoid releasing particulars of its deals with private businesses like Amazon, said Kevin Kosar, vice president of policy at the R Street Institute, a nonprofit conservative-leaning think tank, who has studied the Postal Service.

Amazon’s silence about the details of its contract haven’t helped clarify matters. Spokesmen for both the Postal Service and Amazon declined to comment for this article.

A spokesman for the White House, Raj Shah, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Kosar said he considered it “wildly unlikely” that Mr. Trump has reviewed the Postal Service’s contract with Amazon and that the president is “kind of talking through his hat.” Still, he said the Citigroup analysis of the accounting of the Postal Service’s deals with companies like Amazon shouldn’t be dismissed.

There are four commissioners on the Postal Regulatory Commission, none of whom was nominated by Mr. Trump, with one vacancy. The nominations require Senate confirmation.

Mr. Kosar said he expected rates to rise. He said the commission had indicated in regulatory filings — before the flurry of tweets by Mr. Trump — that it would consider increases in shipping prices.

“It’s just a question of magnitude,” he said.

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Amazon Has Lots of Company as Trump Slams ‘Stupid’ Businesses


Most presidents have clashed with business interests and industries, sometimes in ways that generated headlines. But Mr. Trump is unique in singling out individual companies for ridicule with regularity. And rarely have presidents done so because of a personal pique or grudge, as happens with Mr. Trump.

“This is an unprecedented situation for companies. The president’s tweets can cause significant reputational harm,” said Dean C. Garfield, the president of the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents big technology companies like Amazon, Dell, Facebook, Google and IBM. “We are now at a place where about 90 percent of the companies we represent now have a presidential Twitter strategy in place.”

“It’s no laughing matter,” he said.

For many companies, that strategy comes down to waiting out the storm. In recent days, Amazon has all but ignored the president’s taunts, which he issued in a flurry of tweets.

“There’s no real advantage going toe-to-toe with him,” said Joe Lockhart, a press secretary for President Bill Clinton who was a spokesman for the National Football League, another favorite target of Mr. Trump. “And his attention span is so short, he will move on. He’ll find another target.”

Associates say the president is often riled up by Amazon’s connection to The Washington Post, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, founded the retail giant. People close to the president have said his attacks on one of the country’s largest businesses have usually been prompted by articles in The Post that Mr. Trump perceives as negative.

Likewise, the president’s interest in the AT&T merger with Time Warner largely stems from his repeated clashes with CNN, a subsidiary of Time Warner, which he regards as biased against him.

Mr. Trump’s lashing out at the N.F.L. — he has repeatedly criticized football players for kneeling at games and once said he hoped a player “sues the hell out of the @nfl for incompetence & defamation” — comes in part from his decades-long legal fight with the N.F.L. after he bought a team in the competing United States Football League.

As a private citizen, Mr. Trump has attacked companies, including calling several times for boycotts. The remarks served to raise his profile and fed the image of a no-holds-barred businessman who was unafraid to rebuke his rivals or his critics. But in those days, such comments had little ability to move stock prices or affect sales.

As a candidate and as the president, Mr. Trump also uses his verbal assaults on companies to bolster his populist message that he is on the side of workers, not big business. (Still, Mr. Trump secured a large tax cut last year for corporate America.)

Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters say they appreciate his willingness to criticize the corporate establishment.

“He continues to go directly after the companies and not care about political correctness,” said Terry Bowman, a former Trump campaign organizer who works at a Ford Motor parts factory in Ypsilanti, Mich. “He says things that a polished politician would never say. He says things that come directly from the American worker.”

President Barack Obama once singled out Staples, the office supply company, for failing to provide more health care for its employees. “Shame on them,” he said. Earlier in his presidency, Mr. Obama broadly criticized Wall Street bankers whose firms took federal bailout money only to turn around and award bonuses to their executives.

“That is the height of irresponsibility,” Mr. Obama said in 2009 without identifying specific companies. “It is shameful.”

Mr. Clinton’s Justice Department aggressively pushed to break up Microsoft on the grounds that it was abusing its monopoly position in personal computing to dominate the internet.

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In recent days, Amazon has all but ignored the president’s taunts, which he issued in a flurry of Twitter posts that started last week.

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

President John F. Kennedy avoided naming individuals during a fight with the steel industry in 1962. He criticized “a tiny handful of steel executives whose pursuit of private power and profit exceeds their sense of public responsibility.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt frequently assailed the “malefactors of great wealth” without identifying them.

Mr. Trump has had no such reticence.

In his most recent attacks on Amazon, he has accused the company of using the United States Postal Service as “its Delivery Boy” and claimed that the federal agency was being ripped off by the online retailer. On Tuesday, he insisted that he was right.

“A report just came out. They said $1.47, I believe, or about that for every time they deliver a package, the United States government — meaning the post office — loses $1.47,” the president said.

He added, ominously: “So Amazon is going to have to pay much more money to the post office. There’s no doubt about that.”

Mr. Trump’s numbers were inaccurate — the Postal Service makes money from Amazon — but business executives say such statements have a chilling effect.

When Merck’s chief executive, Kenneth C. Frazier, quit a presidential business council last year in protest of some of the White House’s policy positions, other members were initially reluctant to come to his defense for fear of a verbal attack by Mr. Trump. The council eventually disbanded but only after much internal negotiation among members to quit in force.

The multiday decline of Amazon’s stock price after Mr. Trump’s repeated jabs at the company has exacerbated such fears, said Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management and president of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute.

“Other business leaders don’t want to catch the contagion,” he said.

But he added that refusing to engage could also be risky. He said that Mr. Bezos’s silence had hurt the company, leaving it exposed to Mr. Trump’s accusations that it received subsidies from the Postal Service and was not paying its fair share of taxes.

“The right answer for C.E.O.s is not to engage in a mud fight but to come with facts,” Mr. Sonnenfeld said. “U.P.S. and FedEx have their facts, but we haven’t heard from Amazon.”

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Asian Markets Fall Modestly, Unburdened by Big Names in Tech


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A stock board in Tokyo on Tuesday. Markets in Asia were down less than 1 percent by midday after a sharper drop the day before in New York.

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Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

HONG KONG — Asian markets fell on Tuesday after a tough day on Wall Street but were spared the full extent of the pain felt in the United States, thanks in part to a dearth of big technology names that trade in the region.

Markets in Asia were down less than 1 percent by midday after a sharper drop the day before in New York, suggesting that Wall Street’s painful Monday would not turn into a global rout. Underlining that point, futures that track major United States stock indexes were modestly higher in Asian trading on Tuesday, meaning that many investors see a better day coming.

For the most part, global markets are responding to the same signals. Investors around the world have been unnerved by the prospect of a full-blown trade war between the United States and China as the two erect tit-for-tat trade barriers.

More generally, global markets have risen roughly in tandem over the past couple of years as the economies of the United States, Europe and China have appeared to all be humming along together at a healthy clip for the first time in years. After such a long run-up, many investors naturally wonder how much longer the good times will last.

But Monday’s slump in the United States has another driver that other world markets lack: big-time technology companies.

Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Intel and Tesla were among the major contributors to Monday’s stock slump on Wall Street. Amazon faces pressure from President Trump, while Facebook continues to grapple with privacy concerns and Tesla has been hit by a succession of negative headlines.

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To Trump, It’s the ‘Amazon Washington Post.’ To Its Editor, That’s Baloney.


“The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!” he wrote in June last year.

“Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?” he tweeted the next month.

How do the president’s broadsides play inside The Post’s newsroom?

“I don’t even know how to describe what goes through my mind,” Martin Baron, the paper’s executive editor, said in a telephone interview on Monday. “It’s completely made up.”

People close to the president have said critical articles in The Post often trigger his public musings about Amazon. Last week, after The Post reported that Mr. Trump’s lawyer had raised the prospect of offering pardons to two of Mr. Trump’s former top advisers, Michael Flynn and Paul J. Manafort, Mr. Trump fired off a tweet saying that Amazon did not pay enough taxes and was “putting many thousands of retailers out of business.” (The Post’s report on the talk of pardons followed an article on that subject in The New York Times, which has also drawn the president’s wrath on Twitter.)

It is not clear which article, if any, set off Mr. Trump’s Saturday morning barrage against Amazon and The Post. The paper had published an article on Friday about the Trump Organization’s finances, which it described as being “under unprecedented assault a year into his presidency” because of legal reviews.

Mr. Trump’s tweeted criticisms of Mr. Bezos, Amazon and The Post may not have much bite. Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, told reporters last week that “the president has expressed his concerns with Amazon,” adding, “We have no actions at this time.”

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Asked about President Trump’s tweet storm attacking The Post, its editor, Martin Baron, said, “It’s completely made up.”

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Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

The president’s tweet storm may have had one real-world effect, however: Amazon’s stock fell 5.2 percent on Monday, a day when the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dropped 2.2 percent.

As the group of wealthy business leaders who own newspapers grows — Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire medical entrepreneur, agreed in February to buy The Los Angeles Times — Mr. Trump’s blasts at Mr. Bezos and Amazon could provide a template for future lines of attack against individuals and companies with ties to news organizations whose coverage he does not like.

“Do I think it’s a bad thing that the president is attacking a news outlet, period? Yes,” said Indira Lakshmanan, who holds the Newmark chair in journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute, a center for media studies. “And that he’s attacking a business owned by an owner of a media company? Yes, if there are no grounds for it.”

On Monday, Mr. Baron said The Post was not cowed by Mr. Trump’s invectives. “We cover him the way that we feel any president should be covered,” he said. After Mr. Trump’s tweets on Saturday, the paper published an article under the headline “Trump accuses Amazon of ‘Post Office scam,’ falsely says The Post is company’s lobbyist.”

Mr. Baron also rebuffed any suggestion that The Post was a lobbyist for Amazon, as Mr. Trump has proclaimed at times.

“There isn’t anybody here who is paid by Amazon,” he said. “Not one penny.”

(Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, declined to comment or to provide an interview with Mr. Bezos.)

Mr. Bezos holds conference calls with The Post’s leadership every other week to discuss the paper’s business strategy but has no involvement in its news coverage, Mr. Baron said. During his occasional appearances at The Post’s building, Mr. Bezos sometimes stops by a news meeting “just to thank everybody,” Mr. Baron said.

“I can’t say more emphatically he’s never suggested a story to anybody here, he’s never critiqued a story, he’s never suppressed a story,” the editor said.

“Frankly, in a newsroom of 800 journalists, if that had occurred, I guarantee you, you would have heard about it,” he added. “Newsrooms tend not to like those kinds of interventions, particularly a newsroom that’s as proud as The Washington Post.

“If he had been involved in our news coverage, you can be sure that you would have heard about it by now,” Mr. Baron added. “It hasn’t happened. Period.”

Mr. Bezos’ hands-off approach extends to The Post’s coverage of Amazon. During a town hall-style meeting held before his deal for The Post was completed, he told the paper’s employees that they should cover him as they would any other business executive and treat Amazon no differently from any other company, Mr. Baron said.

“He’s reiterated that to me any number of times,” he said. “He doesn’t get involved. I’ve never heard from him on any story that we’ve written about Amazon, and we’ve had any number of them that are critical.”

By Monday morning, it seemed that Mr. Trump had found a new target.

“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased,” the president tweeted, responding to negative reports over the weekend about the Sinclair Broadcast Group. “Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”

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