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Do You Use the Yellow Pages Anymore?

Some people think it’s time to make a change in the directory book’s distribution.

Advertising dollars drying up. Readership disappearing. Relevance waning due to the Internet and smart phones.

The Yellow Pages, which just a decade or so ago had rival publishers fighting with telephone company directories over copious ad revenue, have had a rough go of it of late, particularly in larger cities as fewer people bother to pick them up off the sidewalks or doorsteps.

But publishers of the voluminous tomes got a dose of good news recently when a 2011 San Francisco ordinance that created a program to restrict the distribution of Yellow Pages directories was shelved after a federal court decision that struck down a similar ordinance in Seattle, according to the Bay Citizen.

In an effort to stave off complaints and blight associated with the frequent pileup of never-used directories outside residences, San Francisco created a three-year pilot program under which residents and businesses would have to request a telephone directory in order to receive one. 

But a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a similar case in Seattle that the distribution of Yellow Pages is protected under the First Amendment. San Francisco's ordinance had faced a similar challenge, and the Board of Supervisors suspended their ordinance last month.

Publishers say that customers can simply opt out of receiving the Yellow Pages by visiting the Local Search Association's website

The turn of events got us thinking: Do East Bay residents use the Yellow Pages these days? Is the arrival of the big yellow book on your doorstep a mere layover before its arrival in your blue recycling bin? Are the Yellow Pages a trusted resource or an obsolete pile of paper?

Let us know why in the comments section below.

ricardo gonzalez January 12, 2013 at 05:58 PM
I haven't touched one in years, but my wife still uses it ocassionally.
Jeff Mark January 12, 2013 at 06:17 PM
I still use the bound directories, especially the Alameda Magazine directory. For me, "browsing" still works way better with a bound-paper medium than online. The less specific my search need, the likelier I am to look in a directory. If my search is more specific, say I know part of the name or the address, and all I want is the full address or phone number, then I'll use online; but if I'm looking for, say, someone to install an outdoor TV antenna, or a place to buy cat food, especially if I want to look locally, I'll use a phone book. I also find the paper phone book, even, or maybe especially, AT&T's, to be more reliable information source than online. I should mention a few things. (1) I'm 62, so the "fingers do the walking" program is pretty well ingrained. And (2) my point of comparison is yp.com, the ATT-owned online directory; I don't subscribe to Angie's List or Yelp or any of them, so I don't know if their browsing experience is any different from that of yp.com, which is pretty lame. Also, the Alameda Magazine directory contains some very useful local coupons, as well as the very best Alameda street map I've yet found.
Jeff Mark January 12, 2013 at 06:17 PM
P.S, If AT&T *itself* instituted an "opt-in" policy rather than its current "opt-out", that should be constitutionally valid, as opposed to a local government restricting its distribution (which apparently is how the Seattle ordinance was interpreted). More locally-oriented directories, like Alameda Magazine's, or the Valley Yellow Pages may be easier to persuade. But we need to recognize the inherent conflict. The value of the advertising these guys sell is dependent on the number of directories they distribute, whether anyone looks at them or not. Getting them to voluntarily limit the distribution is getting them to voluntarily reduce their revenue.

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