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Amazon has taken pains to paint the market for e-readers as additive to the overall computer market, even as evidence mounts that mobile gadgets _ particularly Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet _ are forcing people to change how they spend their technology dollars.

The economic downturn continues to depress retail spending overall. Holiday spending in the U.S. reached the highest level on record last year at $462 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, but would have been below pre-recession levels if inflation were factored in.

Because of Amazon’s reach _ the Seattle-based company shipped to 178 countries over the holidays _ its business affects a swath of industries, from retailing to manufacturing to shipping. UPS and FedEx, for example, depend on online retailers such as Amazon to feed their pipelines during the busiest shipping days of the year.