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Reflections on the Print vs. Digital Book Debate

07 Jan

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By Yonatan Gordon

While I had in mind about a week ago to write an article in honor of 24 Tevet–this year being the 200th anniversary since the passing of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi–the precise nature of this article only became clear on 24 Tevet itself. It was from an unlikely source, a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Don’t Burn Your Books—Print Is Here to Stay.”

It is well known that the Tanya was printed into book form de facto because of manuscript errors planted there by “sundry copyists.” It is also well know that the popularity of the Tanya immediately spread far and wide, selling out the initial print run of 15,000 copies. This essay doesn’t pretend to reconstruct the account. Rather our attempt here is to re-translate it for a new generation of tech savvy individuals.

If we abstract the circumstances surrounding the copying and subsequent printing of the…

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