Artscroll: Monopolizing the siddur market

When I was a kid the Shiloh Siddur was king, that blue large printed siddur was all I used. I remember how the siddurs cover would become tattred and then the little threads would all start coming loose until you had to tear them off because it was too addicting. The Shiloh Siddur came in one color and one style, yet its popularity was because you knew exactly where to go when you busted it out. The older ones were rare, you know, the ones with the pink covers from 1930 or something. They were usually tucked away in the far reaches of the book shelf next to those yellow covered Tikun Mayer siddurs that were printed in 1935. The Shiloh Siddur was and still is like the McDonalds of Siddurs- you know exactly what you are getting, no surprises.

When I was graduated 8th grade my school gave me one of those compact beige Artscroll siddurs, the hard to read small lettering and bulky feel of it was nothing to compare to the very ergonomically shaped Shiloh siddur, yet everywhere I went people used Artscrolls- which led me to believe that Artscroll had a monopoly on the siddur market and was exploiting it for all it was worth, by forcing folks to use extra bulky siddurs with poor translations and without the old school print of the Torah.

Then all of the sudden there were multiple Artscroll siddurs that were all exactly the same except for their packaging. I felt as if Artscroll were pulling the Beatles and Aerowsmith moves of repackaging their famous works and greatest hit multiple times just so they could keep coming out with albums long after the band members were dead or off doing other projects. Even Tupac and Biggie still have albums released even though they were both gunned down over 10 years ago.

With Artscroll you have 3 of the exact same siddurs in different packaging. The black cover, beige cover and the beige and white cover. Then you have the compact yet bulky siddur in beige. The skinny no English included in maroon, the transliterated maroon, and the transliterated in Russian and that is also maroon- which sucks because you rush to get the transliterated for yom tov or something only to discover that since you escaped from Russia before you learned to read, the siddur has no use for you.

Its funny because as many times as they have re-released the same siddurim that are just repackaged, the ever present Stone Chumash has been around for quite some time without them busting out a new one. Even Gutnick has released another chumash, they of course had only single sedras and then busted out the big mama chamisha chumshey torah.

If I could convey any sort of thing to Artscroll I would say this. How about a translation to keep your progressiveness of the times. Maybe something that is void of thee, thou and sages. How about normal words instead of the biblical “thee will smite you” crap. Also how about a siddur with normal old school lettering, and maybe a Spanish translated siddur.