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The new phone books arrive, but are they here to stay? March 22, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Business, News, News and politics, Web.

Yes, the city where I live still publishes and distributes free phone books to every household. My phonebook is actually two phonebooks. A regular size (8.5 inches by 11 inches) and smaller (half-sized) phone book. The larger one includes almost 500 white pages and over 900 yellow pages. That’s a lot of pages. And, if they wanted to save cost or natural resources by using the reduced book size, then they should not have included the full-sized phonebook with the smaller one. I’m not sure what they are thinking.

According to this MSN article, in America more than 650 million phone books were published last year (the U.S. population is only 300 million people) creating up to 1 million tons of waste. I don’t even want to think about how many of them are never used, ever. Most people under 40 never use a phone book. What do they use to look up a phone number? The Internet, of course! But that’s the point of that article.

Since phone books are costly to produce and are paid for by advertising the readership will determine how much longer they will be around. If it is not worth advertising in phone books, then the ad revenue will dry up and eventually the publishers of phone books will cut back the production and distribution.

So, what are young people using phone books for these days? Simple, phone books have become props for YouTube videos. Here are two such videos…

This first YouTube video is a type of European Mythbusters episode testing the myth that two phone books that have the pages shuffled together like a deck of cards can’t be pulled apart.

This second YouTube video demonstrates how to tear a phone book in half with just your bare hands. Yes, it can be done!

So, that is what phone books are used for by young people.

You may want to hang onto your old phone books because they may be worth something as an antique or museum piece. This website is dedicated to old phone books. If you don’t want your phone book or no longer need that old one from five years ago maybe you can send it to them instead of a landfill.



1. Moose - March 23, 2008

I’ve seen phone books ripped apart before. I had never heard of the other myth and I am amazed. I want to try it. 🙂

Maybe an IT team could try it with books that the IT wrote… see if it does the same thing – of course that paper may be glossy and that might effect the experiment.

2. Ken Clark - March 24, 2008

Those books you say you never use actually got referenced over 13 billion times last year. And that’s just the print versions. 87% of all adults reference them at least once a year, 70% in a typical month, and 50+% on average month. How about on average 1.4X each week?

The other myth is that the Internet is all we need. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the broadband market is about tapped out. There will always be a good percentage of the population that will never have access to the industry’s Internet products. Barely more than 50% of households in the U.S. (about 56 million homes), currently subscribe to a high-speed Internet service. An additional 21 million households still use dial-up connections (yes, you read that right – dial-up connections).

The VCR didn’t replace movie theaters, TV didn’t replace radio, and the Internet will NOT be replacing the printed Yellow Pages. It will supplement it. There is no other directional media that can provide buyers the information they need when they need it about local businesses than the print Yellow Pages. It is truly the original local search engine….

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