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Validation. Vindication. Victory. (Phone Book Blog 5)

29 May

May 29, 2013

Longtime readers (of which I may or may not still have one or two that I have not yet alienated) might recall that back in 2011 my apartment building was buried in an avalanche of telephone books, taking up the entire lobby and leaving us to climb over the huge piles and drifts of not just one but FIVE different brands of phone books. What was the difference between the brands? Some had ads for malpractice attorneys on the cover, and others had ads for slip and fall attorneys on the cover. Ironically, this blizzard of phone books appeared right in the middle of an actual blizzard of snow. The phonebooks got through but did my bill payments arrive on time? Of course not.

I went on a bit of a rant- OK, a rampage, about the complete and utter uselessness of the phonebook in the internet/iPhone/Goggle glasses era. To sum up, I managed to pinpoint the last remaining uses of the phonebook in the 21st Century: smashing bugs and looking up old friends’ names to see if they are still alive.


I was attacked by – who else? Some tool of the phone book industry, who, in the comments section, tried to prove that the phone book is used by literally a kabillion people each hour and that it is a vital engine of our nation’s economy.

I did not believe him.

Meanwhile, I kept ranting until The New York Times (YES! The Old Gray Lady herself!) took up the fight and sided with- wait for it… me. Using the same journalistic integrity that keeps them from printing a single critical word about President Obama’s handling of Benghazi, the IRS scandal, or the AP wiretaps (Their Motto: “Blaming George W. Bush since 1776”) they used time tested reporting tactics, like quoting people, to prove that yes, I was right and the phone book is useless.

Want to catch up on the amazing and hysterical story that was the blog-fueled Watergate of 2011?

Click the links for:
PART ONE                 PART TWO                 PART THREE                 PART FOUR

I must have really had an effect on the phone book industry since last year, 2012, I noticed that the number of phone books had dropped significantly. However, there were still way too many. Whereas we used to get dozens and dozens of bundles of books we only got about ten. Let’s just do some very simple math that even Amanda Bynes can calculate. (Yes, I am going to make Amanda Bynes the new Lindsay Lohan of my blog. At least until Lohan escapes rehab.)

My building has 6 floors X 9 apartments per floor = 54 apartments.

Phone books come in bundles of 12. We had 10 bundles. 12 X 10 = 120 phone books.

Assuming that no matter how many people live in an apartment you still only need one phone book, we had 120 – 54 = 66 too many phone books.

And don’t forget- we were getting up to 5 different company’s books. 5 X 120 = 600.

SIX HUNDRED phone books for FIFTY-FOUR apartments.


And now 2013

We had ONE bundle of twelve books left in our lobby.

12 phone books for 54 apartments. Uh oh, sounds like they went too far in the other direction this year.

No they didn’t. After a week there were still 2 phone books left unclaimed.

54 apartments and demand for only 10 phone books.

Validation. Vindication. Victory.

And the ultimate irony? On the cover was an ad for the phone book’s iPhone app.

I Scoop The New York Times (Phone Book Insanity 3)

10 May

May 10, 2010

Everyone, stop and take a deep breath. Smell it? Unless you are in Cleveland or Detroit, that is the smell of righteousness and vindication. (If you are in Cleveland or Detroit, well, no one is sure what that smell is, but you better stop breathing so deeply because it may be toxic.)

So why am I feeling so smug? Well, it seems that I am quickly becoming the voice of my generation, at least and insofar as it relates to the phone book.

Let me be the first to direct you to this article, which appeared in an honest to god real newspaper, the New York Times.

White Pages May Go Way of Rotary-Dialed Phone

The article says, in part:

The residential White Pages, those inches-thick tomes of fine-print telephone listings that may be most useful as doorstops, could stop landing with a thud on doorsteps across New York later this year.

Verizon, the dominant local phone company in the state, asked regulators on Friday to allow it to end the annual delivery of millions of White Pages to all of its customers in New York. The company estimates that it would save nearly 5,000 tons of paper by ending the automatic distribution of the books.

Only about one of every nine households uses the hard-copy listings anymore, according to Verizon, which cited a 2008 Gallup survey. Most have switched to looking up numbers online or calling directory assistance. The phone book for many people, it seems, has gone from indispensable tool to unavoidable nuisance.

“Phone books have been a very visceral issue,” said Scott Cassel, executive director of the Product Stewardship Institute, an environmental group in Boston. “They do tend to pile up, particularly in apartments. More and more, people are finding that they don’t need them, but they can’t find a way to make them stop.”

When residential directories were delivered this year to the Ivy Tower, an apartment building on West 43rd Street in Manhattan, Ramon Almanzar, a concierge, kept 28 copies in case residents wanted them. Not a single occupant of the 320-unit building claimed one, Mr. Almanzar said.

“We end up throwing them away,” he said, as he greeted residents and opened a glass door. “Everyone goes online anyways.”

Allow me to quote myself, from Stop The Phone Book Insanity!

And why pick up the phone book anyway? If I want a number, and the phone is in my hand, I call 411 and the operator (HA! HA! There are no more operators, they are all computers!) connects me. Or I can find a number online. Or better yet I find the website online, or just use Twitter which doesn’t require a phone at all.

This is why, one week after they were dumped in my lobby, 99% of them were dumped outside with the trash.

I wrote two blogs about the phone books which piled up in my lobby, and everyone agreed with me except for, who else, someone in the phone book industry. 

Sorry pal, the phone industry sides with me.

No less an authority than the New York Times has shown Mr. Blog to be at the top of the trends, finger on the pulse of America. Of course, they aren’t pointing out that I scooped them, but seeing the state of the newspaper industry I’ll let it pass. I feel sorry for them.

If only they had cited me.

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