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Is the Number Up For the Residential Phone Book?

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the i'm-in-the-book dept.

Communications 360

Hugh Pickens writes "The first phone directory was issued in 1878, two years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and for decades regulators across the US have required phone companies to distribute directories in paper form. But now the Washington Post reports that Verizon, the largest provider of landline phones in the Washington DC region, is asking state regulators for permission to stop delivering the residential white pages in Virginia and Maryland. About a dozen other states are also doing away with printed phone books as surveys show that the number of households relying on residential white pages dropped from 25 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2008. The directories will be available online, printed or on CD-ROM upon request but the inches-thick white pages, a fixture in American households for more than a century, will no longer land on porches with a thud each year. 'I'm kind of amazed they lasted as long as they have,' says Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. 'But there are some people nostalgic about this. Some people like to go to the shelf and look up a number.'"

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360 comments

Simple option? (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34254980)

Create some method for people to opt out?

Or make existing methods more accessible or easier to use?

I know that if there was a simple phone number to call, and all I had to do is call in and say "Hi, I live here, don't bring me a phonebook, thanks" I would do that and be done with it.

Re:Simple option? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255058)

yes, but at some point you need to stop altogether because of cost. How much should be spent to get a few people a phone book?

Re:Simple option? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255178)

We didn't have a problem with the cost all throughout the past decade - Did paper get exceedingly expensive this decade?

The Yellow pages are mostly covered in cost by advertising.

Re:Simple option? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255248)

And when you reduce the "circulation" numbers the advetising revenue stays the same, right?

Re:Simple option? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255306)

They are not considering getting rid of the Yellow pages, just the White pages. I am also guessing that the add revenue for the Yellow pages has declined over the last decade do to competition with Internet sources.

Re:Simple option? (-1, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255340)

We are talking about the White Pages.

I mean , come on, how stupid are you? It's in the damn summary. Fuck, you should be banned form /. for a week.

And there is a fixed printing cost even to print just 1 phone book.

Fuel and labor (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255370)

Did paper get exceedingly expensive this decade?

Even if not, truck fuel and labor to deliver a phone book have become more expensive.

Re:Simple option? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255344)

How much should be spent to get a few people basic phone connectivity?

In the aggregate, a fair bit. [wikipedia.org]

The question, I guess, is whether the "few" of the "need paper directory" case are valued as highly as the "few" of the Universal Service case.

Opt-out -> opt-in (4, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255270)

Hehe, here in the Netherlands there was a TV report recently where people complained that they still received the phone book despite opting out. Then it was reported that in Belgium you don't get one anymore unless you ask for it (opt-in). Seems like a better way to me, cuts out all the waste from people that are too lazy to opt-out.

Re:Simple option? (3, Interesting)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255278)

How about the even simpler option of opt in? If you find that only 11% of people use it, then making an opt out available requires 89% of the population to call in and ask to be removed.

The idea they have of making it available on CD or in print, on request, is the best way to go.

Re:Simple option? (3, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255438)

It would have to be opt in, otherwise you end up with the situation where I call them, say don't deliver, then move out - the next person is expecting a directory but the adress is marked as do not deliver so they call up to complain. Every year, a week after the directories go out, they'd be inundated with people calling to complain. With opt in, the worst that would happen is you'll get a directory when you didn't want it and throw it in the recycling bin. Seriously, though, I don't understand why they don't just withdraw it completely except as a paid service for people who call and ask for it. A few weeks ago we got one of these (actually it was the yellow pages rather than the white pages) and I put it straight in the bin - usually I go put it in a cupboard for a year but I realised I've been doing that for the best part of ten years and I've never had to resort to it because the internet is so much simpler, and even calling the directory services is easier than digging out a paper version. If there are a handful of holdouts who like a bit dead tree version I'm sure they wouldn't mind calling for it and paying a small sum to cover the cost associated with producing a low-volume edition with reduced/no ads.

Re:Simple option? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255372)

In TFS: it's available in most cases.

However, I'd rather keep the white pages, and ditch the yellow pages. I actually use the former, the latter is just annoying and makes it difficult to find what I want interspersed with all the crappy adds.

Then again, with Google and anywho, I've not opened either in years. They both end up simply going from the doorstep to the recycle box.

Not everyone is 20 (2, Insightful)

blai (1380673) | more than 2 years ago | (#34254982)

Some find it easier to open a book than to get a computer up.

Re:Not everyone is 20 (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255040)

For now. When the tech generation becomes the older generation, we'll probably never see them again. However, while there are people like my dad, for example, still alive, the book will be them around (that being said, I do want my dad to stick around for a few more years, even if it mean a few more dead trees ;) )

Re:Not everyone is 20 (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255082)

I'm 46, and I have wanted the phone book to go away for over 10 years. Based on the drop in phone books, most people don't want it, AND most people are well over 20.

Re:Not everyone is 20 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255122)

Oh? So what you are saying is that if you're old you're too dumb to use a computer? You're a jerk.

Re:Not everyone is 20 (2, Interesting)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255268)

What about when the power is out? How do you get the number to call hot food service X? or gym Y across town to see if they have power and hot showers? What if it's an extended outage and you are calling to see if grocery store Z is open (with or without power) to replenish your staples (food not brads)? Not only do the companies save money by not printing, but they make money every time you would have used the resource they are no longer providing when you call information.

Re:Not everyone is 20 (2, Informative)

bastia (145202) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255352)

TFA is talking about the residential white pages. Not the yellow pages.

Re:Not everyone is 20 (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255498)

Your whitepages must be different than mine, as mine has businesses listed in addition to people.

Re:Not everyone is 20 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255502)

I guess one could always drive around and find out if the grocery store is open or not.

I have never used the Whitepages. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255478)

But even before I got internet I rarely used the white pages. Many people we knew had their numbers unlisted, and more were in adjacent towns not included in the book we received. Growing up my family always had separate phone number lists sitting next to the phone - one we made ourselves with friends/family and common businesses, and printed directories for all the groups we were in: church, boyscouts, band, etc. I honestly can't remember ever using the whitepages my entire life.

Now that many people have cell phones, and thus aren't included in the white pages, it makes them even more useless. I can understand keeping yellow pages, because you don't have previous relationships with all the businesses you call, but that isn't true for people.

Good riddance (1)

alazor (3947) | more than 2 years ago | (#34254984)

They're an enormous waste of energy and trees. I can't remember the last time I kept on longer than the walk from the front door to the recycle bin.

Re:Good riddance (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255262)

Every tree that was cut down and processed into paper for the phone book was grown specifically for that purpose.

If the demand for paper goes down, then the amount of trees farmed will go down meaning the net change due to printing in the long-term tree population will be ZERO.

Slashdot nigga! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34254998)

It's like a nigga, who's in the hole,
It's like a nigga, he's on the dole!

It's like a nigga, he's made of plastic,
It's like a nigga, he's niggatastic!

Re:Slashdot nigga! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255166)

That's an awesome piece of work my friend! Why keep it confined here to the internet? You should get out there in the real world, go stand on a busy downtown street corner somewhere, and share your talents with folks who can look you in the eye.

I simply throw them away or recycle (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255006)

Is there a way I can tell whoever that delivers them to "not bother"? Even then it seems like I get them from MULTIPLE companies not even associated with a phone company anymore. So they deliver them, and I chuck them... about 4-5 times a year. Internet and/or smart phone usually gets all the info I need.

Re:I simply throw them away or recycle (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255212)

They might include a "white pages" phone listing, but the point of those books is the "yellow pages": the advertising section. Those aren't going away, and asking to opt out of receiving them is going to be as fruitless as asking to opt out of junk mail. Less, in fact, because instead of being delivered by a single government-authorized agency (the USPS), the people delivering those worthless books to your door are a bunch of underemployed seasonal contractors working for several marketing firms. They aren't going to get any "do not deliver" notice, and wouldn't bother honoring it if they did (since they get paid per pound of wood-pulp delivered).

Re:I simply throw them away or recycle (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255320)

If I happen to see them doing deliveries I ask them not to leave one and they don't. Otherwise, the trash can is between the end of the house and the door...

Re:I simply throw them away or recycle (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255432)

It would be better if you took it to a recycling center. Alot of cities have neighborhood recycling centers, and youd do the trees a favor if youd drop it off there instead of the trash can.

Re:I simply throw them away or recycle (2, Insightful)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255300)

As long as they are selling ads, they don't care if you use it.

The correct phrase to help banish phone books is "I found your business online".

Re:I simply throw them away or recycle (1)

alta (1263) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255322)

I called yellow book once and told them that one of their representatives had left their trash in my yard, littering. I cited the local fine for littering and told them that if they didn't come get it I was calling the police. The next day it was gone.

Suprised! (1)

bchickens (255621) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255010)

I am very suprised it took this long for them to realize that the phone book is a thing of the past. Only thing I ever think of when I look at a phone book is Terminator when he is killing all the Sarah Connors in order! See? Another reason not to be in the book!

Re:Suprised! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255290)

Good point. Why didn't Kyle Reese get sent back a few years earlier to tell Sarah Connor to get an unlisted number?

A new problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255028)

Now what will short people sit on?

I'm torn (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255032)

On one hand I never use the thing making it a giant waste of paper.

On the other hand when the power is out it comes in handy as all my numbers are either stored in autodial or a local Google search away both of which don't work with the power off...

Re:I'm torn (0)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255078)

...

You lost me.

Are you using a mobile phone? Then why aren't the numbers in your phone...

Are you using a landline? YOUR POWER IS OUT!

Re:I'm torn (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255198)

Landline? You do not need POWER to use a landline phone if you have a regular (not a cordless) phone.

Re:I'm torn (1)

cindyann (1916572) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255460)

My land line is a VOIP phone.

When the power goes out, assuming that the cable company's POP doesn't go down too, I have broadband and phone for as long as the UPS that the cable modem and telephone adapter are on has juice..

Unfortunately my wireless land line phone isn't also on the UPS.

Not sure any of that matters; I've got a cell phone, and actually the land line's days are numbered.

Re:I'm torn (4, Informative)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255200)

Phone lines work in a power outage. your caps suggest you don't know this.

Re:I'm torn (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255250)

Mine never have. So yes - I feel quite sheepish now.

Re:I'm torn (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255476)

Cordless phones dont for obvious reasons. A simple 1980s style corded phone will work fine when the power is out. Although.. I havnt used one like that since I was a child.

Re:I'm torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255482)

Mine never have.

I assure you, they have, you just don't own a phone that doesn't require power.

Re:I'm torn (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255226)

Landline phones are powered through the phone line itself, so they still (usually) function in a power outage. They only time they don't is when there's some major localized problem, like a tree taking down the utility pole right outside your house. Cordless phones and other fancy devices won't likely work, but a plain telephone will.

Re:I'm torn (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255230)

Landlines work when the power is out. They are powered by voltage on the phone line which is supplied separately from your electrical connection.

But yeah, I don't get what he is saying about phone numbers either.

Re:I'm torn (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255232)

Apparently I'm living in the stone age - other people's phones work when the power is uot.

Re:I'm torn (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255426)

Back in the stone age, phones worked when the power went out. Now that we're in the enlightened age, we have far more downstream switching hardware on limited-time UPSs which when they run out, entire network segments go down.

Bizarre circumstances do arise, however. Last summer, the power went out for much of my county for a couple of days. My neighbors on RCN land lines had no phone service, but when I hooked some solar panels up to my FIOS modem, I discovered that the upstream FIOS routers were still functioning. It may have turned off the Internet, but phone traffic was getting through. So maybe with even more advanced technology we can return to stone-age functionality.

Re:I'm torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255474)

No, you just only have portable phones. Try an old skool wired phone (with no gadgets like caller ID that require you to plug it into AC power as well) and you'll find it works.

Re:I'm torn (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255506)

In the US anyway, the phone companies have their own power backups for when the power goes out. However, if a tree falls on your power line and cuts both the power and the phone lines, then yes both will be out. If you have a cordless phone with no UPS, then will not work either.

Re:I'm torn (2, Informative)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255252)

As a person that lives in hurricane country, I can tell you that during a major disaster cell service is one of the first things to go. Landline service will often be up and running when nothing else works, electricity out for 100 miles in every direction for days and the land lines still work.

Re:I'm torn (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255276)

Good old copper landlines still work just fine without power.

More accurately, if you're on a copper line then you get all the power you need for free right from the phone company.

Re:I'm torn (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255338)

Are you using a landline? YOUR POWER IS OUT!

In many places, landline handsets are powered from the switch office (... which is on UPS) via the phone line, and not from your house's power. So the phone will work (in some minimal mode) even though all the other appliances won't.

Re:I'm torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255354)

Where are you from? At least in my area, they are indeed independent. As long as I'm using a regular old corded phone and not a cordless that needs a power source, the land line will operate just fine if the power or power lines are compromised.

Re:I'm torn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255360)

I thought you were going to say that you would have nothing left to rip in half [youtube.com] to impress your friends (or your mother).

If they want to cut that cost (1)

QuantumBeep (748940) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255034)

If they want to cut that cost, they will need to find a highly effective way to ensure that the handful of people who do use them (lots of elderly and poor folks) have a very easy way to get one.

In the meantime, paper books aren't too hard on the environment, and the cost of printing them it nothing against even one month's profit on a landline phone.

In short, the status quo isn't that bad.

Re:If they want to cut that cost (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255466)

But they also have to pay to deliver them. I would probably be cheaper to mail them to the maybe 20% of users who request them than to go around throwing them at everybody's houses in your own trucks.

No way! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255056)

What am I supposed to burn in my fireplace? Wood? Bull, you burn wood. This aint' 1876, bitch. I start my phone book fire by rubbing two Blackberry's together and heat the rest of the rooms in my house using monitors to watch my live video stream of the blaze.

power outage (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255064)

In a power outage, my landline phone and phone book still work well. Having the directory on CDROM would do nothing for me. Having it online would not help me out either. Not everyone lives near a cellular tower.

Re:power outage (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255260)

Nobody is taking your landline away. So in a power outage you pop your CD into a laptop (our household has 4 of them ... well, 3, since one of them has a fried mainboard I think), look up the number you want, dial the digits, and tell the person who answers "yo dude ... I'm in a power outage over here."

Re:power outage (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255444)

The situation is even more fundamental than this. Who on earth are you going to call in a powercut who's number wasn't already in your Mobile? If you can think of a list, then perhaps now is a good time to write those numbers down in an address book, or ... umm put them in your phone.

If your greeting to them is "yo dude" I somehow doubt that they are someone you need to go to the white pages for :)

Re:power outage (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255364)

Just who would you call during a power outage, out of the blue, all of a sudden? Knowing you won't have a big white book, you should have a small personal file/folder/address book containing emergency numbers. Or even without cellphone reception, you can still look it up in your mobile's own phonebook.

Thank goodness! (1)

gonzocanuck2 (470521) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255066)

I would be happy to see them go. I was able to intercept the delivery of them this year and it was really hard to give them back to the delivery guy. He didn't want to take them back! I doubt they will ever get discontinued in Alberta. I have been hearing radio ads about advertising in the Yellow Pages.

Re:Thank goodness! (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255504)

The yellow pages arnt going anywhere, they still make money. Its the white pages that are going the way of the dodo.

Now get rid of the Yellow Pages (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255080)

They go straight into the recycling bin. I've already emailed them and told them I *don't* want them any more. Next step is to email 100 advertisers at random and tell them that they are wasting their money, and all things being equal, I'll shop at the one who doesn't advertise in the Yellow Pages.

If everyone did this, they would die.

Re:Now get rid of the Yellow Pages (2, Informative)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255284)

When I needed a water pump for my washer, I went to the book to get a listing of part suppliers in my area. The internet is great for finding parts, shitty for finding parts in stock, in my area, at a shop open today. The yellow pages are a great resource. But this FA was about the white pages. The residential listings. This is not about the yellow book of advertisers. That one probably pays for itself.

Can we get rid of Verizon home phone service too? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255106)

That would seem to be obvious as the next steps.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255430)

"Can we get rid of Verizon home phone service too? That would seem to be obvious as the next steps." - by h00manist (800926) on Wednesday November 17, @11:04AM (#34255106)

See my subject, and can you answer it with specifics please (as to why you say that)?

The apocalypse (4, Interesting)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255112)

As an official Old Guy, I find that rituals often have value. The morning trip to the bird feeder gives me a measure of purpose, and opening a phone book to look up a number gives me a bit of awe at the scale of my surroundings, and fixes the number in my mind for a few seconds longer than otherwise might be the case. A hypothetical EMP probably won't damage my black dial phone, and field trips to the central office indicate it might well not be damaged either, so it's nice to think two Old Guys could look each other up regardless of the internet being destroyed and chat for a while before the food runs out and the batteries in the central office run down and wild dogs begin to tear everyone apart.

Old people. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255130)

For some time now this will continue to be generational.

My folks are in their 60s... Recently on one of my visits to my hometown to go see them, they wanted to look up a particular business. I was completely shocked when they looked it up in a phone book. This was something that didn't occur to me at all. While they flipped through the pages I googled it on my phone and had the answer much faster. But they insisted on looking it up in the yellow pages.

Around the same time, I moved into a building which had some older residents. The phone books were delivered regularly. I always recycled them, but I observed others keeping them. I'm now in a place where people the average age is much closer to mine, and I haven't seen a phone book for some time.

So, I predict phone books will stick around until those generations which still depend on them die out.

By the way, this is not license to mock those that still depend on them. When I had that culture shock experience with my folks, part of my reaction was to realize that even if their habits seem antiquated, previous generations still deserve our respect.

Good Riddance (1)

Nittle (1356899) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255134)

Mine goes straight from my porch to the recycling bin. What a waste of resources. Glad they're moving forward.

Haven't used it in a decade (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255146)

A few days ago, i received my new residential phonebook. When i looked for the old one, i found it still shrink-wrapped. Same happend with it's predecessor and the one before it.

Since i get them delivered to my home door, i don't care much. But i wouldn't waste any effort to get a new phonebook.

The Cell Phone Killed The Phone Book (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255148)

This was all brought about by the fact cell phone numbers were not published in the white pages, the reliability of the system failed when a large percentage of people were not listed.

Re:The Cell Phone Killed The Phone Book (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255492)

The white pages haven't been the primary utility in phone books for a long time. It's the yellow pages.

Phone books actually are fairly effective advertising vehicles for companies: a person new to town can open it up and quickly find out what's available in their locality for hardware stores, attorneys, groceries, etc. They're effective to advertise in, because pretty much everyone keeps one around the house "just in case".

For white pages, you get the number of the person you want to contact from the person themselves, more often than not. When there are 20 Michael and Jane Sarkowskis in a town, there's little use in the white pages. (This scenario is slightly different in a town under somewhere around 50k, I imagine, but with how much and how often most people live in different towns than where they work these days...)

I'm surprised that phone books are considered a loss-leader of sorts. There are still for-profit phone book companies out there which manage to stick by, even doing fairly well. The companies which advertise in them evidently see a benefit to doing so, because they keep doing it.

Old People (1)

killthom (1942188) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255160)

My grandparents gave me a phone book last weekend because they saw I didn't have one... I stared blankly and said thanks. That phone book now collects dust in the top of my closet. I honestly don't see a need for a phone book. The internet is so convenient and quick that opening a book seems somewhat inefficient in this day and age. They should cut physical phone book production, and focus on making their websites top-notch. Anyone else see it this way?

Re:Old People (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255380)

here is your wooooosh card.

Two people who *DO* use it could not comprehend that you do not have one. You turn around and do the same thing and can not comprehend that is *HOW* they figure out phone numbers.

your way
turn on computer
wait for it to start
(dial in if you are still using dialup)
open browser
go to website
get number

their way
find phone book
dig thru alphabetical names
get number

Both ways work. However the 'new' way involves turning on that computer that takes 10 mins to startup. All for that 1 number that takes a min to get out of the phone book which in most peoples cases is next to the phone.

For me I have not used a phone book in a couple of years. But that is because I am almost always near a computer that is on and ready to rock. Not everyone lives and breaths computers.

Paper form optional (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255170)

As long as a free book form is available by delivery as well, I don't see a problem with this. Like some have said, some people (particularly elderly people) either don't know where to go online to find these, or might not even have a computer to put a CD-ROM in. It's of course a lot cheaper to not send books out to everyone as well, not to mention better for the environment (less paper, don't use a lot of gas delivering them). Really kind of a non-issue, as long as they leave the choice of book form available.

FYI: The first white pages had only 2 entries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255192)

Alexander Bell at #1 and Thomas Watson at #2 were the only entries.

When Mr. Bell started receiving crank calls with heavy breathing and telling him his refrigerator wasn't running because it hadn't been invented yet, he dialed *3, which was the first historic use of last-call return.

As it turns out, Mr. Watson's crank calls were also the first examples of phone sex.

Fixture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255218)

> a fixture in American households

A fixture on top of the freezer in the back closet of the kitchen under an inch of dust, more likely...

nostalgia (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255236)

There are people nostalgic about anything, but this is a very good move. Who knows how much paper and other resources is wasted printing those damn things every year.

Save some paper (1)

bytethese (1372715) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255264)

If only 11% report using it, why are they printed? Perhaps a better option is an opt in? Make them available to those who want them, saving paper, printing costs, etc. Heck, most people I know don't even have a land line any more so it is pretty useless to someone like me. I also have a laptop and my FiOS has a battery back up (provided by Verizon) so either a CD-ROM or Internet lookup would work ok for me I suppose.

Electronic Startup Times Are Too Slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255274)

The current reason why paper forms of references still exist is computers take too longe to boot up. By the time the computer is up and ready to search I could find a dozen phone numbers in a paper phone book.

Now smart phones are getting pretty close to replacing paper references as those who carry them have them pretty much always available and running, the only real issue with them right now is the high up front cost and the rarity of having one without having to pay a subscription where as phone books are completely free.

The life span of paper references is nearing an end though...

Privacy (1)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255282)

As ever, my primary concern is user privacy. There are a variety of controls in place that govern the maintenance and use of call logs that the phone company keeps. None of those laws would apply to logs of phone number lookups. I would expect privacy to eventually settle to about the level (and consistency) you see for library checkout history, but without starting a conversation, it'll just end up as one more bit of data the phone company call sell about you (assuming you have the same company for phone and internet).

Waste of paper (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255302)

Good, it's a waste of paper, and you have the option of requesting it anyway. Now if they could only get rid of flyers and other crap that piles up as well, it just goes straight into the recycling bin anyway, what's the point? It's really depressing how much goes into my mailbox every single day and straight into the bin, where even more energy has to be used to make it back into perfectly usable paper again, which will no doubt end up going right back in the bin! Many of these are printed with high quality ink on a glossy card, it's a shame how much waste is created.

Funny names (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255304)

So now how will I be able to randomly Browse the phone book looking for. People. With hilarious names. I mean, Harry Ball? That's golden.

Re:Funny names (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255494)

I remember seeing "Long Long Wang" in the Denton phone book. Yeah, there are some hidden treasures there.

I certainly hope not (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255324)

I use my phone books as fire-starting material for those cold winter nights. I'd miss having those pages around to get the logs going.

Netcraft confirms it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255382)

Netcraft confirms it.

So it must be true.

Bell was NOT the inventor (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255388)

Bell did NOT invented the phone. I have no clue why it repeated over and over again. It was NOT Bell.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Philipp_Reis

That german inventor invented the telephone 17 years earlier and even coined the word "telephone".
US-centric bias?

I'd be totally on board for this if... (1)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255406)

... they weren't charging for directory assistance.

While I can't remember the last time I bothered looking something up in the Book, it seems sketchy to expect folks to subscribe to a different service (internet) in order to fully use this one.

In Canada... (1)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255416)

The white pages (residential) are only available upon request starting this year in the following cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, the Ottawa-Gatineau area and Quebec City. Before that they were on a 24-month cycle starting in 2005.

If you want to request a phone book, go here: http://delivery.ypg.com/delivery/ [ypg.com]

I spotted one in the wild recently! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255420)

Seriously, I saw a coworker using a phonebook to find something. I almost asked him what he was looking for, but didn't feel like talking to him anymore. A while back, my mother used a phonebook as well.

err, Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255428)

ever heard of Antonio Meucci? Bell may have been the first person that patented the Phone but surely not the person that invented it

It's Not Nostalgia For Some (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255434)

As hard as some people here may find it to believe, there are people in this country - perhaps even in your own neighborhood - who don't own computers. Hence all the online and CD-ROM directories in the world won't help them a bit; they need the printed phone book to look up numbers. They don't use the printed phone book because they want "nostalgia", they use it because it's the only resource they have (or want).

conundrum (2, Interesting)

andcal (196136) | more than 2 years ago | (#34255484)

So, how do you call the power company when the electricity goes out? I mean the first time the electricity goes out, I mean (because by the time the electricity goes out for the second time, you will have looked up the number and put it in your cellphone.) Wait, no, you just look it up on your cellphone the first time, because your cellphone can access the internet.
I guess people with cellphones that can't access the internet to look up a number are becoming as rare as people with no cellphone and only a cordless phone on their landline.

Opt-in via the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34255490)

The best way to save money is an opt-in solution. If you want a paper copy, sign up for one a web page. Pretty sure that no phone books will get sent out that way

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