The Yellow Pages Industry is Not Your Friend

Unwanted Yellow Pages

Photo by Larsz

It’s really amazing to see how out of touch the yellow pages industry is with the interests of the people they depend on taking their directories into their homes. For example, the YP industry’s own stats show that 15% of Americans did not use a phone book even once last year. That correlates to millions and millions of phone books being printed, shipped, delivered, thrown away or recycled with no value to anyone in that chain.

It seems like the industry, who isn’t exactly strong financially these days, would want to figure out a way to cut their printing, shipping, and delivery costs by 15% in order to help their bottom line (since they don’t seem to be swayed by more altruistic reasons). Well, you’d be wrong. Here’s where they stand, according to yellow pages industry analyst, Ken Clark:

The industry slipped by in 2008 with no significant legislation passed against its print book distribution practices. We won’t be so lucky in 2009.

You see, from the industry’s perspective:

– They were “lucky” to be able to ship their print spam products to people who didn’t want them.

– They were “lucky” to put unnecessary strain on local landfills and recycling centers.

– They were “lucky” to be able to pass along costs to local businesses who paid for the distribution of phone books that were never opened.

– They were “lucky” that consumers didn’t have a choice regarding what ends up on their doorstep.

– They were “lucky” that they were able to litter foreclosed homes with phone books.

Unwanted Yellow Pages

Photo by frankh

People don’t decide to regulate industries just for the fun of it. It comes from dealing with industries who refuse to regulate themselves by behaving like good neighbors. An industry who’s still in a “were were lucky” phase is far from being ready to change on its own.

9 thoughts on “The Yellow Pages Industry is Not Your Friend”

  1. Ok, but they really do suck! I think it’s such a waste and i haven’t used one, I Google. My boyfriend actually pulled a phone book out of the depths of our closet the other day and I was like what the hell are you looking up, he told me, I found it in like 5 seconds…he put the book in the recycling.
    Ahhh lovely shelf space for my hats and gloves…lol

  2. In his article pointing out the death of traditional media he’s eluding to the “long tail” theory – a trend that’s been going since the inception of web 2.0 (and they’re just figuring this out?)

    Consumers get their news, products, and entertainment from their own selection of sources, and its accessible when they want and how they want. Just like no one is reliant on the morning paper for their news, no one wants to be reliant on an incomplete and out of date book full of rapidly diminishing advertisers.

    In any case pretty grim article for them…

  3. It is amazing at how many phonebooks are stacked up at the front doors of vacant and foreclosed homes throughout the Twin Cities metro. Mine goes straight into the recycling bin….unless we need a doorstop. 🙂

  4. Phonebooks are great for finding Taxi’s though. You open the yellow pages to “Taxi”, (which personally I could do faster than I could get my computer out of sleep mode and pull up internet explorer and try to google something) and you have about 20 different taxi companies you can call. And since you always have to call more than one if it’s a Friday or Saturday night in MPLS, you can buzz through pretty quickly. I would rather use a phone book than google to do this.
    I have not found a website that so clearly displays all your options with cities serviced and phone numbers on one page.
    If you know a site that does this let me know and I will check it out.

    However, I don’t need 6 phonebooks a year for finding Taxis. And I get about 6 phonebooks a year.

    Also, if I may respond to James’s comment: I like the morning paper. I probably use it to consume 25% of my news. So definetly for me it is still a relevant player in the media arena.
    Maybe it’s because I used to write for 2 papers, but I’d prefer to read an article in the paper rather than on I will use the internet when available, like right now when I’m at work getting sidetracked, but in my house, in a car, on a plane, or restaurant, I would rather read a real paper than stare at a laptop.
    It is true that most people probably don’t use the paper to get the news every morning- who has the time? But on Saturdays and Sundays I enjoy a paper.

    Plus when you’re done you can use it to start fires in the fireplace or put it under your kitty litter box.

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