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In the News 12.10.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 12.10.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
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Photos by Emily Faulstich

The Hit Book That Came From Mars

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The story of Andy Weir is a strange mix of fact and fiction. There’s the fairy tale success of his book, The Martian, which he self-published on his blog for free, intended for the few thousand fans he’d accumulated over years of hobby writing. Some of those fans wanted an electronic book version, which he made, and then a Kindle version, which he made too, charging the minimum price allowable by Amazon: $0.99. “That’s when I learned how deep Amazon’s reach is,” Weir would later tell an audience. Within four months, The Martian had risen to the top spot on Amazon’s sci-fi best-seller list, and two months later he had signed both a book deal with Random House’s Crown Publishing imprint and a movie deal with 20th Century Fox. The book is currently number 10 on The New York Times’ fiction best-seller list. The motion picture, which stars Matt Damon and is directed by Ridley Scott, is due to come out this year.

Read the rest of this article at Nautilus

This London-based online fashion startup abandoned a $25 million business — and became huge anyway

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Most companies would give their eye teeth to be selling $25 million worth of clothing from huge brands like Burberry and Roland Mouret.

But about two years after launching online fashion company Lyst, CEO Chris Morton decided to kill off his original business model even though its gross merchandise volume had already reached $25 million (£16 million).

To understand why, you have to look at one of the biggest problems the online retail industry faces — shopping cart abandonment. That’s when customers put items in their online shopping carts, but then leave the site before completing the purchase.

Lyst’s app and website let people browse major brands — Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Oscar de la Renta and Stella McCartney, to name a few — on one site. It also highlights current trends with its trademark “Lysts,” and it makes personalised recommendations about what people should buy based on their preferences or shopping history.

But at first, Lyst sent customers back to the brand’s website to buy the products they wanted. Sometimes, that disconnect would lead to a customer getting bored or frustrated, and abandoning their purchase. Morton has previously said that depending on the quality of their partners’ checkouts, abandonment made as much as a 10% difference in conversion rates.

Read the rest of this article at Business Insider

A radical experiment at Zappos to end the office workplace as we know it

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TONY HSIEH, the CEO of Zappos, the online shoe and clothing store, lives in a trailer park in downtown Las Vegas. The Airstream Park, as it’s called, occupies about half a city block, surrounded by a tall fence crowned with barbed wire and punctuated with palm trees. When I arrived in April, Adirondack chairs, picnic tables, and a colorful assortment of portable seating encircled a pair of fire pits. On one side of the park was a low stage, directly opposite a large two-story Airstream, known as the Llamamobile, equipped with a roof deck and a third fire pit and decorated with a mural of a lone llama grazing in a limitless lush green field. Next to the Airstream, modified shipping containers painted in primary colors revealed a laundry room, kitchen, and a pantry stocked with cases of Fernet, an Italian digestif. Scratched into a concrete step was the word “Llamalopolis.”

Read the rest of this article at New Republic

A Criminal Mind

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For 40 years, Joel Dreyer was a respected psychiatrist who oversaw a clinic for troubled children, belonged to an exclusive country club, and doted on his four daughters and nine grandchildren. Then, suddenly, he became a major drug dealer. Why?

Read the rest of this article at The California Sunday Magazine

The Maddening and Brilliant Karl Lagerfeld

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THE HISTORY OF FASHION is the history of longing. Nobody is born stylish. Everybody wants to be a little memorable, and some would like to be somebody else, or more like the self we see in the better part of our minds. It’s about one hundred years since fashion took its place alongside literature, painting and music as a way to look for the social essence of one’s era. Proust saw it happening, and, in ‘‘In Search of Lost Time,’’ Madame de Guermantes’s dresses are ‘‘not a casual decoration alterable at will, but a given, poetical reality like that of the weather, or the light peculiar to a certain hour of the day.’’ I tried to recall the passage as I waited for Karl Lagerfeld in his Paris apartment off the Boulevard St. Germain. It was just after 1 p.m., though there is something timeless about the room where he likes to take his lunch. It has blinds and something of an Art Deco ambiance in shades of gray, angular, with spotless glass and candle­scented air, a Jeff Koons sculpture erupting on the table, next to a beautiful drawing for the poster of the 1924 film ‘‘L’Inhumaine.’’

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.