Believe It or Not, People Still Read the Yellow Pages
For many people born before the 2000s, phone books were a common household item. If somebody wanted a plumber or a pizza, they just opened up their copy of the Yellow Pages and looked for their alphabetical listing. Even I myself learned rudimentary phone skills at age five when I started dialing random numbers from the book. To this day, I wonder how high our family’s phone bill was.
Time marches on, and with that, certain things get left in the past. Phone books, though, seem to be taking a long time to fade away. Sure, they have vanished from public spaces just like its cousin, the public pay phone. But, the Yellow Pages still linger on in the form of a web directory and thinner books.
One has to wonder how phone books still manage to have a life. Many households no longer receive Yellow Pages delivered straight to their door anymore. Businesses know better to advertise online rather than in the Yellow Pages. In order to understand why Yellow Pages are still kicking, we need to examine some of the impacts they are making on a post-digital society.
Approximately 540 million phone books are printed in the United States each year. Each three-pound book requires at least 23 million fully grown trees to be cut down for paper processing. In summary, entire forests are clear-cut for phonebook making.
Yellow Pages acknowledge some of the environmental concerns by adopting a recycling program. Waste paper and wood chips normally destined for landfills make up 60% of the necessary materials.
Millennials have no need to use Yellow Pages because of how tech savvy they are. Search engines provide all the important listings for local businesses including the address, directions, and, of course, the phone number. Baby boomers and older generations, on the other hand, are slower adopters and need the phonebook to fall back on.
When a pipe bursts or the air conditioning is off, the natural reaction is to grab the Yellow Pages. Phone books prove to be handy in emergencies when there is no time to wait for a personal computer to boot up. It may not come as a surprise that older generations don’t own any kind of computer.
If you happen to live in one area all your life, like Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, you pretty much know the lay of the land. Any new shake up to local businesses would require bringing up a search for “companies in Wilkes-Barre.” You frequent certain businesses and services only because you had good experiences the first time.
Smart phones make it easier to keep track of frequented numbers. A built-in address book app can save numbers from our call list and assign them names and personalized ringtones. A downgraded version would be to keep a Rolodex, or “little black book.” A lesser substitute for this would be the Yellow Pages.
At this time, phone books remain a preferential service. An opt-out service is offered by Yellow Pages until it’s preferential no longer.
Despite what you might think, the Yellow Pages are still valuable for small businesses. Adapting to a new digital model, the Yellow Pages remain as relevant today as they did twenty years ago.