The Crazy World of Phone Books! (IT Toolbox Blogs)

Today I found a copy of the Yellow Pages on my front lawn.  Holy Cow!  What a throwback to the olden days, I thought.  Does anyone use these any more???  So I brought it in to my house and stared looking at it. 


Come with me to the wierd alternate world of phone books in 2017 – if you are brave enough!  


Ok.  Before I take you on this strange journey, let me be clear.  I can’t even remember the last time I used a yellow pages.  I mean, really!  I have Google, Google Maps and a host of recommendation services, plus a whole social graph of people ready to tell me their experiences.  I can’t think of a single reason why I would use a paper book to research businesses (or why I would trust advertising in such a book).


But as I’ve researched about this a little bit, I came across the following statistic about Yellow Pages usage:


In a 2013 survey by RingCentral that appeared in USA Today, 58% of working US adults said they used phone books at home, work or both.  This correlates to a study done by Burke, Inc., a global consulting firm, who found that 60% of their respondents referenced print phone directories in 2012.


I had no idea that I lived in a 40% minority!  Six in 10 people said they use a phone book.  I can’t get my head around that!  Granted that was almost 4 years ago, so things might have changed some in that time.  But I would have guessed it was less than 30% of the US population who would own up to using a phone book.


Apparently phone books are big business!  I had no idea that there are over 160 publishers who print and ship phone books in the US.  That is a lot of companies!  I’m guessing that this is largely the major local phone carriers who do most of this.


And wow!  There are a lot of companies paying to advertise in this book.  I flipped through and every page had some sort of advertisement on it.  This means that there are a lot of companies who believe that people read this book.  I saw everything from tiny ads to full page front-and-back ads with coupons!  


So here’s where this journey gets goofy.  On the cover of the book is an instruction for opting out.  I’d never seen that before because I’d immediately tossed the book every other time one had appeared in my driveway.  But the instruction says to go to a website to let them know you don’t want to get a free copy of the Yellow pages any more.  History meets the present age.


Of course, in order to opt out, I had to register an account with the National Yellow Pages Consumer Choice and Opt-Out Site.  What an ironic twist!  At least the process was pretty simple and easy.


The nutty thing is that in all, my address was set up to receive 4 different yellow pages books!  They normally go straight to the recycling, so I guess I hadn’t noticed how often they came.


Now my subscription preferences match my 40% group membership. But wow!  I had no idea paper books were this real in 2017!  How about you?  Are you in the 40% group?  Or do you regularly use the yellow pages?  Let me know in the Comments.


Photo courtesy of Emiliano Pennisi


Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ March 5, 2017 at 11:09AM