Yellowpages – History?
Phonebooks: A serious case of pulp friction
by Tania Deluzuriaga, New York Times News Service


They’re the original search engines, leftover from the days of rotary

phones and answering machines. Once valued reference books kept in a

certain drawer or cabinet for easy and frequent access, the massive

telephone directories landing on doorsteps and in apartment foyers

across the city in recent weeks seemed bound for more ignoble destinations.

Days after hundreds of thousands of the 2,000-page, 4-pound tomes were

delivered, they began showing up in recycling bins and trash dumpsters.


From Beacon Hill to Jamaica Plain, they moldered on porches and driveways,

lay strewn across sidewalks, and sat in large, untouched piles in condo and

apartment buildings.


In an era when consumers are increasingly conscious of the waste they

generate, arrival of the phone books was greeted with an annoyed sigh or



“All that’s waste,” grumbled Gerri Cummings, 70, eyeing the waist-high

pile of phone books orphaned in the foyer of her South Boston apartment 



Yellow Book delivered stacks of its yellow pages directories, enough for each

of the residents of Cummings’ 96-unit building for the elderly and disabled.

A few days later, Verizon did the same.

“All my phone numbers are in my phone,” Cummings said, waving a silver

cellphone that she keeps in her pocket.

A few blocks away, 33-year-old Jason Muth vented his disgust in his blog.


“Each time I’m greeted by piles of bound paper at my doorstep, I think the

same exact thing: what a waste,” he wrote. “The energy to distribute and

manufacture these, the raw materials used to print these, and our time to

dispose of them properly.”


When Verizon delivered its directories a couple days later, Muth’s disgust

turned to anger. Of the 10 directories delivered to his address this month,

not one made it inside, he said.

“What industry is indiscriminately allowed to throw their product on your

front step and leave you to deal with it?” he fumed in a phone interview.

“It’s environmentally wrong; it’s morally wrong.”


Representatives from Verizon and Yellow Book declined to speak to a

reporter about their products or distribution practices. In a written

statement, a Verizon spokesman said the company has regionalized its

directory and made it smaller and more user-friendly. Yellow Book, which

distributed 883,000 copies of its directory in the Boston area last year,

said that 87 percent of adults use a print phone directory at least once

a year.

“We get complaints from people when they don’t get their phone book,”

said Stephanie Hobbs, a spokeswoman for the Yellow Pages Association,

the industry’s trade organization.


For those who don’t want it, there is little recourse. Unlike services that let

consumers sign up for no-call lists to stop cold-calling advertisers, it’s not so

easy to avoid getting the phone book. Some directory companies have phone

numbers that residents can call to stop phone book deliveries to their homes,

but the numbers can be hard to locate. And governments say they are

constrained in imposing blanket restrictions.

“It’s a First Amendment issue,” said Sharon Gillett, commissioner of the state

Department of Telecommunications and Cable. “How are they different from

free newspapers or political fliers?”


Despite competition from the Internet, the phone directory market continues

to slowly grow, with a value this year of about billion, according to the

Yellow Pages Association.


While services like Google and 411 are providing heightened competition, people

still turn to their yellow pages when they are ready to buy, Hobbs said, citing a

third-party study that found American adults consulted phone books 13.4 billion

times last year.


But even some advertisers in the books say they’re questioning the practice.

“I keep contemplating whether I should give it up; it costs me a fortune,” said

Scott Ruth, a Marlborough plumber who ran an ad for his business in the Boston

Yellow Book.


Though business has been good, Ruth said, he has all the work he can handle,

and he is not sure that spending “several thousand dollars” a year on

advertising in the phone book is worth it.


“I haven’t picked one up in I don’t know how long,” he said.

Moral of this story? If your company is not on the first page of search results in Google, you are for all practical purposes: Invisible

David Bruce Jr

Frederick Web Promotions

I didn’t write this post, I haven’t had the experience this small business owner had because I’ve not paid Yellowbook the $250 a month he says he paid but I thought his retelling of his story was noteworthy so I’m republishing a snippet of his post here:


There are all kinds of different ways to advertise your business and keep the name out there without spending a fortune, there are also plenty of advertising area’s that seem inexpensive and for good reason, lack of results.

 In a little over a years time I have written about numerous forms of advertising on my site, in addition to the many local area business’s that I review as well. Advertising is by far my favorite thing to do, I love starting ad campaigns from the ground up, and figuring the potential cost and profit of doing such ad campaigns. My palms sweat just thinking about putting a special on a Clear Channel Billboard from Mikey B, no really they do.

Anyway, before this post gets way out of hand the main reason for this article is to take a moment and review the experiences I have had with and our advertising with them over the last few months. 

When we first opened Extreme Tan and Smoothies we had a paid advertisement in the actual Yellow Book that was delivered to all of the local homes in the area, this was about five years ago and let’s just say that ad campaign was hardly worth it. A few months ago while we were in the height of our season and aggressively advertising we had a representative come into the office pushing advertising in the online version of Yellow

My initial answer was of course absolutely not, especially after my first experience with them and how they have continued billing that is a major pain in the ass to get them to stop. After talking with the representative he assured me that the deal we signed would allow us to break out of it and cancel at any time, this sparked my interest because I rarely ever sign contracts.

We decided to buy the top spot on all searches in the specific counties that we wanted the ad to appear when people plugged in a search on Yellow, I figured it would have to return some excellent results with a placement like that. Our spots continued to run through out the entire tanning season as well as the entire limousine season, we have yet to have any customer mention those ad spots for either business.

Now I will say that one of the hardest things to track when it comes to advertising is advertising placed in the Yellow Pages or any place that doesn’t offer some sort of redemption, like a coupon to make tracking easier. The spots ran for enough time that had the advertisement made that much of an impact we would have heard about it, this ad campaign was very much like the ad campaign we ran five years ago.

In addition to the poor return on investment from advertising with Yellow Book and Yellow over the years…

Original Post at