Verizon Feels the White Pages Heat, Are The Yellow Pages Next?

The dumping of phone books onto humanity is one of my favorite topics. I’ve lamented the arrival of the yellow pages for three years running (2009, 2008, 2007).

Now, a breath of fresh air: The New York Times reports that Verizon wants to pull the plug on white pages for New York City in a move that would save 5,000 tons of paper annually. According to the article, an astonishing 1 in 9 New Yorkers actually do, in fact, still use the white pages. But with Verizon’s proposal, they’d still be able to get one by request. Cutting a cost that’s also a nuisance for 8 out of 9 people is just good business.

However, as is evident every year, the advertiser fueled yellow pages are a far more profitable business. Searching around online hasn’t yielded much good data on how many people continue to use yellow pages, but clearly advertisers and yellow page distributors remain convinced that it’s something higher than 1 in 9, otherwise they would have streamlined their distribution. Wouldn’t they? One look at the dozens of abandoned tomes in my foyer and you’d argue that advertisers have been duped. But perhaps I’m wrong again.

So here’s a reader project: Can anyone find more reliable polling data that shows how many Americans (or any other country for that matter) actually use phone books? For starters, here’s a poll for you. Please leave a comment if you know of better data or how to get it.

[poll id=”8″]

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He was instrumental in the creation of TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years as well as an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.