Are Phone Books Necessary?

Southern Pages
Southern Pages

The Georgia Public Service Commission might stop requiring AT&T to distribute paper phone books. The rationale seems to be so many people rely on the Internet and use cell phones the phone books are less useful. That only one percent of people inside the Atlanta perimeter asked for one definitely supports stopping the service. Phasing out delivery would start with with larger populations.

I have only used a phone book once in the past 5 years. I wrote about Georgia Theatre weird phone calls. The local municipal web site provided 4 generic department numbers which didn’t help me much. The last place I lived used to publish the direct line of people in the phone book, so I tried White Pages. When I also didn’t find it there, I tried the text version just in case. Sadly, none gave me what I hoped. So I ended up calling a generic number and after wasting several people’s time, left a message for someone to call me back.

AT&T is only one of three entities offering me a phone book at both home and work. Southern Pages happened to leave a bunch of them where I could take a picture. All this duplication is a waste. I feel like I should only receive at most one every few years as a backup in case online sources are down or not useful.

I would be curious how often information in the books change over a half, one, two, five, and ten year periods. I wouldn’t be surprised if 70% of numbers in phone books don’t change over 5 years.



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7 responses to “Are Phone Books Necessary?”

  1. Stephen Howard Avatar

    I bet you’re right about the change for phone numbers, but I imagine the Ads change far more frequently, which is what is paying for the books to get made in the first place, mandate or no.

  2. Kenc Avatar

    @Stephen: On average about 75% of all ads in a print directory change in some fashion over the course of a year — telephone number changes, addresses, mergers/buyouts, new logo’s, new brands, new hours of operation etc. etc.. There is a lot of great info that is in those ads in the books, which is why they are such a valuable source

  3. Ezra S F Avatar

    @Ken: The value of phone books are the advertisements? Oh… Gotcha, your web site is on the Yellow Pages business. That explains it.

  4. Kenc Avatar

    @Ezra: of course its about the ads. No one “reads” a phone book. Not even those of us in the industry….

    1. Ezra S F Avatar

      I’ll take your calling me no one as a compliment.

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