When I started blogging a few years back I didn’t realize I’d become so interested in the subject of phone books. Realizing I haven’t used the yellow pages in years, I started taking a picture every time a phone book, (all of which unwanted,) was dumped at my door. Unlike the old days when you’d receive one yearly book from Ma Bell now there are many competing companies, resulting in multiple drops offs throughout the year. To me these deliveries, (see photo,) are nothing more than garbage that I’m obligated to then process, and I support initiatives to curb their proliferation. Of course publishers see opposite; since reducing production and delivery ultimately reduces distribution numbers – a key factor in advertising rates.
Like many others I use the internet or mobile device to find everything I need at home, at the office, or on the go. Case in point while in New York last week I wanted to rent a bike. I didn’t go into someone’s shop asking to borrow a ratty phone book. See photo: I typed “bike rental” and found Metro Bicycles a few blocks away. True not everyone has search and mapping functions on their mobile, but I predict such features will rapidly become standard cell phone fare, not a la carte – hammering yet another nail into the coffins filled with phone books.
Over the past year I’ve found numerous other bloggers who share my view on these paper monstrosities, and many news outlets around the country addressing consumers’ concerns. Just this week I found this article by Portland’s FOX affiliate about unwanted phone books, and a story out of Boise about a delivery worker who simply set fire to his truckload of books. Of course every industry has its enthusiasts, and to spice up discussion and counter such negative opinions various publishers of the Yellow Pages chime in on various blogs defending their distribution practices.
One blogger who has made strides in the awareness for reduced consumption and easier opt-out methods is Ed Kohler of Minneapolis blog The Deets. He’s published multiple articles on this subject and has followed the industry’s reaction to our criticisms. One issue he’s covered is why delivery people insist on leaving phone books at the doorsteps of empty or boarded up houses around the midwest when there’s ALREADY a rotting phone book on the premises. Its quite clear the house is vacant, and silly to leave another. But it still happens, and makes neighborhoods that are already down on their luck with vacant houses appear even worse. Ed and his commenters push the need for littering fines and citations for unlawful garbage disposal fines heaved on these publishers, and I completely agree.
Recently, at the Association of Directory Publishers convention in San Antonio, industry consultant Ken Clark, (who has commented on my site too,) referenced TheDeets.com and likened it and other blogs to “termites” of the print industry. According to Ed they spent an hour discussing how blogs and new media are slowly”eating away” at their reputation. Rather than viewing blogs as local community outlets for opinions and voices they dismiss them as junk science and self described authorities of research. However as Ed points out – if they spent an hour discussing it then it really says something about the collective impact of our efforts. I wrote this in my most recent post:
If the blogosphere is so irrelevant to the industry, then Ken wouldn’t have created his own blog. In addition, the questioning of phone books and their sales tactics isn’t limited to small scale local community blogs like mine. Dan Savage at Seattle’s The Stranger has taken on phone books. the Consumerist has brought up this issue. The Denver Post addressed the concern when another wallop of books hit our area, and local NBC affiliate KUSA did a story over the summer too. These aren’t bored twentysomethings sitting in their parents’ basement trying to pick on Ken. These are solid media outlets. And even if it is “citizen journalism,” these are people who’ve taken the time to craft their thoughts and articulate their views for others to read. To outright dismiss them as “half brained” dimwits doesn’t bode well for the source.
I’m proud to be called a “termite,” and great work to all termites out there. If you’d like to read my collection of phone book articles they’re listed at the bottom of this latest post. Also check out Ed’s fine articles and discussions at TheDeets.com – and my appreciation to him for making a difference in this issue.
Regarding termites of a more vile nature: On November 8th, James Dobson will be inducted into the Museum of Broadcast Communication’s Hall of Fame. While the museum claims political and social views are not a factor in deciding membership, certainly one can agree that the divisive moral fearmongering propagated by Dobson ultimately ruins many lives and families – and should at least be a factor in consideration. Note this Dobson gem from 2004:
“Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.”
Mr. Dobson fronts a political action group that masquerades as a Christian ministry. No long essay needs to be written on this ideology guided bigot. If you’d like to petition his removal, or are in the Chicago area and would like to protest, visit dumpdobson.com You may also email Radio Hall of Fame CEO Bruce Dumont directly at email@example.com
If you like wine, good food, and cooking good food, (and what phone booking hating gay blogger doesn’t,) check out the Denver International Food and Wine festival. From October 29th through the 1st see cooking demonstrations, sample tastings, and meet top Colorado chefs. Its at DU’s School of Hotel Restaurant and Tourism Management over on Evans.
Another great bike travel blog I read over the weekend: Teacher on Two Wheels. Andrew Morgan shares photos, stories, and logistics of his two year journey through South America and Africa where he meets with students along the way in a wonderful cultural exchange.