Another Nail in the Yellow Pages Coffin

Recently a television Account Executive in Iowa brought me a copy of the local YellowBook – one of the two “major” phone directories in that part of the state. She showed me an ad that appears just inside the front cover.

The headline was “Directory Options”, and the first line read:

“To opt out of receiving a directory in the future, visit

The site is run by the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association, interestingly enough) in cooperation with the Association of Directory Publishers. Anyone in the community can go to the site, register, and tell the publishers not to send them any more phone directories.

Why do they do this? Because Yellow Page publishers are increasingly aware that a large and rapidly growing segment of the population doesn’t use the Yellow or White Pages, and doesn’t want them. Publishers are under attack from environmental groups, state legislatures and local governments all over the country. Laws have been proposed – and in some cases passed — that ban delivery of a phone directory to anyone who has not opted in. Under the circumstances, the publishers have decided that they would prefer to offer a mechanism for people to opt out, instead.

Until last week, I had never seen an ad for this service in the Yellow Pages itself. I wondered if a similar ad was in my own Yellow Pages at home, but I don’t have one anymore – these days, the books go right from my front porch to the recycling bin. I checked with the neighbors on either side of my house, and they didn’t keep theirs, either.*
So I went to the national website, plugged in my zip code, and found this.

I registered on the site, changed of the quantities to “0”and hit Submit. Soon after, I received an email telling me that my preferences would be sent to each publisher. It was fast, it was easy, and another small nail was driven into the Yellow Pages coffin.

*PS: Eventually I found a copy of the Dex Yellow Pages at my local library (which also had a full set of World Book Encyclopedias). It took the clerk a few minutes to find the book. “Nobody asks for it anymore,” she said, pointing to a row of computers across the room. “They just go online.” On a page headlined Committed to Consumer Choice, the book featured both the national Yellow Pages Opt-Out site and their own “Select Your Dex” website.


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