JTA Conned by Artscroll

It's amazing to us to see the simplistic public relations machine at Artscroll con the supposedly sophisticated Jewish Telegraphic Agency, who by the way has sent us dozens of appeals for donations this week, what is that all about? Is JTA a charity or is it a business?

The JTA lets Artscroll write its news story for them. And they write as if there is no digital prayer book online right now for free with Hebrew and English pages, or just English or just Hebrew.

How does Sue Fishkoff not know that thousands of Hebrew books are available for free download especially at hebrewbooks.org, sponsored by Chabad?

To wit, prayerbooks for free and readable on Kindle and iPad in Hebrew and English, off the top of our head:

The answer is, Artscroll consistently misrepresents what it does in Jewish publishing.

A few years back they went to the Times and announced they had translated the Talmud into English, the first to do so since Soncino. Admirable, except untrue. They had to apologize, and the Times had to issue a retraction.


These guys are at it again. It's the by now the familiar Artscroll Brooklyn hustle, not really untrue, but not entirely true either.

The Siddur is digitized in lots of editions. Why does Sue Fishkoff not know that? And why does she not know that the verdict is still out on the permissibility of using Kindles on Shabbat?

Silly really. Here is what JTA announces as if it was some revelation from Sinai, or in this case, from Brooklyn. 
Siddur going digital, but not for Shabbat
By Sue Fishkoff

ArtScroll is launching digital versions of many of its popular Jewish books, but not the Sabbath or High Holidays prayer books.

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- A major publisher of Jewish books is moving into the digital age while trying to strike a balance between technology and Jewish observance.

ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications, which calls itself the world’s largest Jewish publishing house, has begun digitizing the first batch of some of its 1,500 titles.

But ArtScroll’s most popular books -- its Shabbat and High Holidays prayerbooks -- will not be coming out for e-readers like the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle. The reason?

The Shabbat prohibition against using electronic devices is a major barrier.

“The vision of people coming to shul on Shabbat with their e-siddur just doesn’t cut it,” Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, president of the Orthodox-run publishing house, told JTA.

There are other reasons, too -- notably a lag in technology. Amazon’s Kindle is not yet equipped to present Hebrew and English texts on facing pages, which the prayerbooks require, and the iPad’s capability to do so is “quite limited,” according to Zlotowitz... more ...
OMG Zlotowitz has decided that the iPad is "quite limited"?

Steve Jobs, start selling your stock!

Update: Sue Fishkoff called us and updated the JTA article based on what we discussed. Nice.


Batya said...

Isn't she just quoting the press release, the lazy reviewers' tool?

Unknown said...

ArtScroll didn't say there are no electronic prayer books on line. They said they wouldn't be publishing their Shabbat siddur and holiday machzorim in an eBook format. I fail to see the big deal here. Read the piece for what it says - not what you wish to infer.

Tzvee Zahavy said...

No big deal, just a blog post. Google Books has numerous Hebrew prayer books scanned from libraries for free, see today's newer post. Artscroll will be selling theirs for tidy profit. Take your pick.

Unknown said...

No big deal? You trumpet that "JTA Conned by ArtScroll". That's not true. You misrepresent (lie is a better word). It's not just a blog post - it's an untruth.

Tzvee Zahavy said...

All that, disappointing, why not a con?