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June 4th, 2006

The Phone Book: A Tough Sell

I walk by a couple of El stops on my way to and from work every day, and I’ve noticed a new set of ads up for… the phone book.

Just ten years ago, the Yellow Pages were a fairly easy sell, don’t you think? All of your local businesses in one book. Now, the combination of the internet, cell phones, car nav devices, and donuts has pretty much made the Yellow Pages obsolete. The only people I can see still using the Yellow Pages are people who choose not to use the internet, or people who are temporarily without access to the internet… and that number is getting smaller, I’d guess.

So how do you sell the phone book? I know the current ads are basically promoting how easy they are to use and, without the internet as an option, I suppose that’s true. And I know that as a kid I used to pore over the maps, because I love maps. So maybe those maps should be… really spiffy ones? With easy-to-read type and lots of icons?

I admit, when I started this Ping I thought I’d come out of the gate with a ton of options for AT&T, obviously a company that’s hurting for money and ideas. (Well, maybe just the latter.) But I’m a bit unsure. How do you sell a phone book in 2006?

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: COD [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday June 4, 2006 -- 10:43:11 am
Another issue - the yellow pages are huge cash cows for the phone companies. They are insanely profitable. I assume that the profitability is being squeezed a bit these days, but they had plenty to give.

We are still getting phone books from 3 different publishers. I do keep one on the kitchen, primarily because we don't have a computer in the kitchen, yet.

I've noticed at the dump that the phone book recycling container is usually full, and many of the phone books are still in the plastic wrapping. It looks like many people take them straight from the driveway to the dump.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday June 4, 2006 -- 10:46:05 am
Was it the Yellow Pages, or merely a Yellow Pages? For the latter they advertise heavily.

In this day and age, I rely on the Yellow Pages for two things. At home, for finding local shops, since sometimes the internet doesn't filter things very well. I live in one of several "Oakland"s. And while travelling, I rely on it for addresses and lists of restaurants, since I have no wireless notebook.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Sunday June 4, 2006 -- 6:10:59 pm
This was the Yellow Pages. But I've seen ads for a Yellow Pages all the time; that's why this was a little more noteworthy.

FROM: Monica
DATE: Sunday June 4, 2006 -- 10:13:17 pm
I don't have a computer at home. And if I did, I bet I could find something in a phone book faster than it'd take to boot up a computer and log in.

There seem to be more coupons in the dern thing, but without any related marketing "check your phone book for valueable coupons!" (Or in Minnesota, "que-pons.")

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday June 5, 2006 -- 11:57:22 am
What is this "phone book" you speak of?

I don't think I've actually used one in over 5 years now. Between
a web browser and my cell phone, I'm a lot faster at that than flipping between pages 1421 and 1679.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday June 6, 2006 -- 11:31:24 am
The yellow pages have always been a source of misery for me. I want to find a gas station? It won't be under "Gas Stations", or "Fill-up Stations", or any of ten things I think. It will turn out to be under "Services - Automotive - Petrol" or something bizarre and freaky like that.

I like having one for the restaurant/menu section. That's about it. For everything else, there's google.

What is this then?

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