The end of phone books?

phone_book_in_driveway.jpgVerizon has asked the state Public Services Commission to drop the requirement that it deliver phone books to all its customers. From the company's waiver request:

Technological advances, such as Internet directories and the directories in wireless and wireline devices, have made customers much less reliant on, and interested in, printed residential white page directories. Verizon thus proposes to adopt a more customer-focused and environmentally conscious approach to the distribution of white page directories: if granted this waiver, Verizon will distribute such directories "on-demand" to customers that request one.

Verizon cites a private Gallup survey that reported only 11 percent of household used the white pages in 2008. The company says it could probably save 5,000 tons of paper each year by not printing the books.

A Verizon spokesman told NYT that it hopes to have the requirement waived by the end of the year. A spokesman for the PSC tells the TU that Verizon is the first company in the state to make such a request.

We have to admit that the seemingly never ending stream of phone books has irked us for some time. Apparently we're not the only ones.

In 2009, the City of Albany adopted an ordinance that requires phone books to prominently list opt-out info. As common councilman Joe Igoe, the sponsor of the measure, told us in August 2008:

I was out in February going door-to-door for the presidential campaigns and I noticed all of these phone books on doorsteps. So I started an informal poll. I really didn't know it was such a hot issue. People are frustrated about them. ...
There was certainly a time when they were useful. We used to get catalogs too. I used to look forward to getting holiday catalogs. But most of those companies don't make catalogs anymore. They cost a lot of money to print, they're bad for the environment and people are shopping online. Times have changed and the phone book industry needs to keep up with these changes.

Update: As Bill and Fred point out (and as we should have), this proposal doesn't apply to the yellow pages. You can try opting out of those.


Does this mean there will be no charge for 411 calls?

The only time I need a phone book is when the power goes out... and I need to find the National Grid number to report it.

One of these days maybe I'll remember to just stick a list of important numbers to my fridge?

I don't think this will mean the end of phone books for some time. Everything I've seen (including the petition you linked to) says they're trying to stop universal delivery of the white pages, but fully intend to continue dumping yellow pages on everybody's stoops. The books will be smaller, but there'll still be a ton of waste.

Of course, they'll still send out copies of the yellow pages -- there's still money to be made on those...

Here's the neatest trick ever for people without fancy iPhones or cell phone internet access: text the information you need to Google (466453). Try something like: "muddy cup, albany NY." You'll get a text back in about 2 seconds with all of their contact information. Totally eliminates the need for 411 for cell phone users.

I admit I am not *the most* environmentally conscious person, but when the phone books are delivered to my home (which contains 14 separate units) it makes me mad. Two huge cases of them (~20 books total) sit there, unwrapped, for a month before (I assume) someone throws them in the dumpster. And that's just for ONE BUILDING. It's the biggest waste of paper and resources I've ever seen.

I just hate how they drop the book at the end of the driveway in the winter and it inevitably clogs my snowthrower. So I do wish you could opt in for the book.

To avoid having those unwanted Yellow Pages dumped on your doorstep, sign up here to opt out:

It's one less thing I have to sort through at my front mailbox.

For rural delivery the phone book is simply tossed from a car at your house.
This constitutes littering doesn't it?

Great.... NOW what do I rip in half to impress all the ladies?

I live in a single-family home with one other land-line between the two of us. But we got no less than six phone books this time around. And that's not counting the extras that our oh-so-nice neighbors decided to dump on our steps, too. I can't even remember the last time I've used either the white or yellow pages or did any business based on a yellow page ad.

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