The End of Days – for the Phone Book

As a digital industry professional, there are some things that surprise me. The thing that surprises me the most is that phone books are still required by law to be printed and delivered to every household in 35 states. The most recent to fall off that list is Minnesota. They now join the list of opt-in states, where customers have to opt in to receive a printed copy of the white pages.

According to a study by the Iowa Policy Research Organization, when citizens have an opt-in choice to receive the white pages, only 2% choose to get the phone book. This is not at all surprising considering how many households only have cell phones now. The surprising thing is the yellow pages.

A recent conversation I had with a client went something like this:

Client: ‘We’re ramping up our online presence to compensate for reducing our phone book budget’

Me: ‘You still pay 100’s per month to the phone book?’

Client: ‘Not any more. You should be ready for other businesses who won’t know what to do when the phone book disappears.’

I’m not sure why I was surprised at this conversation, perhaps because its been years that the yellow pages has been obsolete and businesses are just now getting it. Even our own clients who we’ve prepared for the end of letting your fingers do the walking are just now getting what digital marketers have known for almost a decade.

Oh, well. There’s hope for phone books yet… Like this art installment at the Plains Art Museum…