It looks like another one of this countries outdated services is on its deathbed. According to a recent story on Yahoo, many states are allowing the phone companies to stop printing the white pages! The white pages are what hold all of the residential listings.
In the past month alone, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania approved Verizon Communications Inc.’s request to quit distributing residential white pages. Residents in Virginia have until Nov. 19 to provide comments on a similar request pending with state regulators.
Since searching for people on the Internet has become so easy, there isn’t much of a need for a listing to be printed out and delivered to tens of millions of homes! Not only can you find many phone numbers and addresses online, but you can also find their Linked-in, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other social network pages!
Seriously, who still reaches for the white pages when you want to find someone’s phone number? The article also contained this cute quote:
“Anybody who doesn’t have access to some kind of online way to look things up now is probably too old to be able to read the print in the white pages anyway,” joked Robert Thompson, a pop culture professor at Syracuse University.
Can you imagine how much the paper, ink, binding, and delivery of these books must cost? Not producing the books at all is definitely the most direct way of cutting printing costs! Not to mention the amount of trees that are cut down each year to produce millions of books [learn how to be environmentally friendly]!
I’m sure that there are still people who get a little nostalgic when they get their new phone book, but they’ll get over it! According to the article, “The first telephone directory was issued in February 1878 — a single page that covered 50 customers in New Haven, Conn.”
There are three things that severely impacted the relevancy of the white pages.
First, as mentioned above, most people run to the Internet (either on their computer or phone) when they want to search for something.
Second, many people are exclusively using cell phones – which usually aren’t a part of the residential listings.
The number of traditional land lines has been declining for the better part of the decade, and now are being disconnected at a rate of nearly 10 percent each year, according to company financial reports. And a survey conducted for SuperMedia Inc. by Gallup shows that between 2005 and 2008, the percentage of households relying on stand-alone residential white pages fell from 25 percent to 11 percent.
Lastly, most people store the numbers of their contacts in their cell phones, home phones (if they still have one), and computers. Much easier than relying on a 3.5lb book! This means that they have little reason to search for a number.
Keep in mind that this is only for the white pages:
Unlike the residential white pages, the business directories printed on yellow pages are doing fine, at least according to the Yellow Pages Association. The industry trade group claims more half the people in the U.S. still let their fingers do the walking every month, and that 550 million residential and business directories are still printed every year.
I’m really not sure why the yellow pages aren’t dying as well. If I want info about a local business, I just do a quick search online for them. If they don’t have a website, or at least a Facebook or Twitter page, then I will go to the online yellow pages.
So, since people don’t seem to be ready to let go of all outdated search methods, the yellow and blue (government listings) pages will still be printed.
For those who think they will be lost without the white pages, the directories will still be published on the Internet and can be provided on a CD as well.
There are a good number of states that this now applies to:
Since 2007, states that have granted permission to quit printing residential listings or that have requests pending include: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. New York-based Verizon’s plan is to seek regulatory approval in all 12 states where it operates land line telephone service. In total, the savings could top 17,000 tons of paper annually throughout Verizon’s service areas, the company said.
I can’t imagine too many people crying over this, but then again, I try very hard to embrace technology that will make us more efficient. Therefore, I can’t speak for all Americans, however:
According to filings with state regulators, AT&T said in places where it has been permitted to provide the white pages on demand, only about 2 percent of customers have requested a copy.
Do you still use your phone book?
How do you find a person’s number when you need it?
When is the last time you used a public pay phone?