CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The last time John Briggs used the voluminous telephone book was about 10 years ago. To millions like Briggs, the printed phone book -- first issued in 1878 -- is an unwanted museum relic that piles up on your front porch or on a shelf in the house until the stack is thrown out or taken to a recycling bin. Instead of letting their fingers do the walking, more and more consumers are turning to the Internet, cell phones and iPads to find local restaurants, plumbers, dentists and other businesses. But don't be too quick to discount the old-fashioned phone book, especially the commercial Yellow Pages, a $9 billion industry in 2011.
Those who use the Yellow Pages generally are over 45, have a higher than average household income, live in more rural communities and don't have access to the Internet, according to global research firm Burke Inc. In a Burke survey of 8,000 people nationwide that was released last year, 74 percent of U.S.
Here's how to opt-out:The Yellow Pages are the next phone book delivery in the Cleveland area. Once you register, you can choose to opt-out or select whether you would like to receive the White Pages, Yellow Page or another phone book. Depending on the part of the country you live in, a person can receive from one to seven phone books within a year. Major Yellow Page publishers today, including AT&T which claims 63 percent of the Northeast Ohio market, smaller independent companies and advertising agencies, all have competitors that can offer more targeted and affordable search options such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp. Yellow Page publishers also are being pushed by consumers to offer services that include bundling print with online offerings.


With people giving up their home numbers and cell phones replacing landlines, "It's a very practical issue," said Neg Norton, president of the Local Search Association, formerly the Yellow Pages Association trade organization. Nationwide regulators have been granting telecommunications companies like Verizon and AT&T permission to stop printing phone books in certain markets. Joshua Gunter, The Plain DealerBetty Brown and Dave Wolf, co-owners of Linkmedia 360 in Independence, recently changed the company's name from National Yellow Pages Media LCC and expanded its services to reflect the growing changes in the phone book industry.
San Francisco issued an ordinance to ban distribution of the phone books, except to customers who are home to physically accept them or give prior approval by phone, mail or sticky note left on the door. So far, about 20 state public utility commissions, including Ohio, have approved white pages on an opt-in basis, according to the Local Search Association, which promotes opting out on the home page of the trade industry group's website.
Linkmedia in Independence knows how difficult it is to keep interest in the printed Yellow Pages.
Wolf of Linkmedia said perspective clients start tuning out at the mention of Yellow Pages.
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So much so that in the last five years, the number of phone book copies has dropped from 600 million to 425 million, industry reports say. While Yellow Pages can come from many sources -- phone companies, marketers, independent publishers, among others -- telephone companies have a regulatory obligation to print residential white pages. With the increased use of the Internet to locate businesses, interest in the phone book's White Pages has dropped off almost entirely and the Yellow Pages have lost a big share of the market. Meanwhile, last June the phonebook industry trade group sued the city of San Francisco and county for singling out an industry's right to freedom of speech. In those markets, people who want them can either request a cd-rom or a printed phone book. That's 17 percent higher than those who used the Internet Yellow Pages And while the residential White Pages aren't used as much, 63 percent said they have used those pages in the last year.
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