Posted on December 22, 2005 · 2 Comments Steve Martin joke aside, two days ago, we got a bunch of new phone books delivered to the house. So after dinner tonight I went into the coat closet, and started to drag out the phone books that were in there. OK, I can let that go, someone dropped off an extra copy, but given how many I already have it just made the discard pile larger. I also contacted Verizon’s Superpages and Area Wide and asked how you can stop them from sending books. But today, the Yellow Pages is a bit too ubiquitous for some, with phonebooks published annually in the U.S. The association has paid outside lobbyists about $50,000 so far this year to defend it in communities across the country.
In Albany, city councilman Joseph Igoe is trying to build support for a law that would limit the distribution of phone books and require publishers to make it easy for people to halt delivery. Some residents in Seattle and other communities in King County, Wash., receive phone books from as many as four different publishers, said Tom Watson, a waste prevention specialist for the region. Phone book publishers acknowledge that many households and businesses receive more phone directories than they need.


For years, phone companies dominated the directory business and published the only phone book available in many markets. Yellow Pages publishers use surveys and audits in local markets to measure how many people use their books, and many businesses often feel compelled to place ads even in those with marginal usage, Goddard said.
Some say the excess phone books are creating a costly environmental problem for local governments.
Igoe, the Albany city councilman, said he has heard lots of complaints from residents, including one from a man who said he wrecked his snowblower when he hit a bunch of phone books buried under the snow on the sidewalk. Yellow Pages Association spokeswoman Stephanie Hobbs said most of the country’s 200-plus Yellow Pages publishers already allow people to opt out from receiving the books by phone, mail or online and provide recycling when they become outdated. Skeptics, however, say phone book publishers don’t always make it obvious or easy to opt out and the cost of blanketing neighborhoods with books they know will be discarded is cheaper than targeting distribution. Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009. In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Find almost anybody here with Super Pages or Yahoo's yellow pages (click here, then find their yellow pages and ask for Friday Harbor or area code 98250).


While the $17 billion-a-year phonebook industry is showing remarkable resilience as other advertising-driven businesses suffer, it has become a familiar target in state legislatures, where lawmakers have tried - unsuccessfully, so far - to place limits on the distribution of phone books.
Two main points the group tries to get across are that phone books help promote local businesses and that they are made almost entirely from wood scraps collected at saw mills and recycled paper. Igoe said the issue came to his attention while campaigning door-to-door last spring and saw phone books wrapped in plastic littering sidewalks, driveways and lawns. But they call it a sign of competition in a healthy business and argue that the marketplace, not the government, should determine the number of phone books distributed. Federal rules enacted in the late 1990s required phone companies to provide listings to independent publishers at a reasonable cost and ignited an explosion of competition. Most markets don’t sustain phone books from three or more publishers for very long, he said. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well.



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