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Reading time: 2 minutes

Books don’t suck as much as websites because the technology does not support it.

Why are websites embarrassing?:

They’re slow, hard to navigate, and plagued with visual crap; pop-ups, bad typography, newsletter modals, and everything else imaginable. And that’s just the baseline. When I use a website on my phone I likely won’t trust it to show me the same information, I won’t trust interactions when I click buttons or fill in forms or even when I try to navigate elsewhere.

I don’t even trust the back button any more.

It’s so bad that visiting a website in 2023 is like falling into a blackhole and being hit by a bunch of random junk on your way to being crushed into an infinite nothing in the center. No, I don’t want to give you permission about cookies, no I don’t want to sign up to your newsletter, no I don’t want to talk with some half-baked chatbot.

No, no, no.

Rendle begins the piece by noting that we as a culture seem to have figured out book design; most books you can buy deliver their contents in an efficient and non-obnoxious way. You know what to expect with a book, and that is nearly always what you get.

That leads him to the question of why the same pattern has not happened with websites, which have gotten increasingly worse over time.

I think the answer is that the technology of a physical book does not support the kind of reader-hostile junk that has made most of the web nigh unusable.

If books could pester you to sign up for their newsletters and make money by showing ads, rest assured—publishers would be doing that.

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