Tag Archives: yellow pages

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.

Stopping the Phone Book Insanity. (Phone Book Blog 4)

14 Mar

March 14, 2011

Regular readers of this blog may recall that last year the various companies dumped enough phone books in my lobby that we could have built a second (and probably cleaner) building next door. The proverbial house of cards would have nothing on us.

After yet another company’s useless phone book was dumped in my lobby I (metaphorically) ran out on the porch and shook my fist, yelling that they better keep off my lawn or else. Or else what? Or else another blog. This one prompted a response by someone who is actually in the phone book biz and tried to defend them. Sad, really.

Well, no less a respected newspaper than the New York Times took up my call. OK, so they were probably planning the story anyway, but I say that I prompted their article about the utter waste that is the printed phone book. Flying in the face of all reason, not to mention facts, I stubbornly say that I scooped them.

And that was not the only time I have scooped the mainstream media.

I assume that by now you have clicked on those links and are now thoroughly up to date with all the ways the phone book is unneeded. Of course I also assume that the United States will have a sound fiscal policy in my lifetime so I may not be too secure in my assumptions. (However, I do think that I am safe in my assumption that the Mets will not make the playoffs this year. Or next year.) In short, the internet gives tons more info and the phone book doesn’t list cell phones, which only a measly ten bazillion of us have.

The phone book is roughly 4.2 times more useless than the average human appendix. At least the removal of an appendix is an excuse for a doctor to charge enough to make his next four boat payments. What does the removal of a phone book gain anyone but a more crowded landfill? Sure, we can recycle them, but who wants to go through all of the bother when it would be so much easier to not print the book in the first place?

It isn’t like the production of the phone book keeps a lot of people employed. All it takes is one guy to go to his computer and hit “alphabetize.” Hemingway does not write phone books. Granted he’s dead, but were he alive I suspect he would not write a phone book. And the printer? The phone book is a once a year contract. I’m sure they could find another high school newspaper to fill the time if they stopped the phone book.

And we’d have a lot more trees.

One group of people the phone book does keep employed are the people who write those silly ads that scream ARE YOU INJURED? and ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION. Who needs them? The less things that scream erectile dysfunction the better.

For the sake of argument, let us assume that someone actually needs the phone book. And yes, I really do believe there are one or two people like that in every city. Elderly shut-ins looking up the names of old friends to see if they are deceased. Weirdos who like to see their name in print. The random business owner who stubbornly believes that a four line ad in the yellow pages gets them more traffic than promoting their website on Google. But do all those people need five phone books? One phone book is enough to stand on to reach the top shelf. If you need more height go stand on a chair.

Phone Book Season kicked off late this time around. Last year by the end of January we had already inundated the sanitation department with seeming millions of phone books tossed out in the street. For weeks little kids were making forts out them and playing cowboys and personal injury attorneys. This year the phone book didn’t stick its head out of its hole until the third week of March. It saw its shadow, came out, and Mayor Bloomberg fired it and 4,600 teachers despite having a budget surplus of about 3 million dollars. (True dat. The teacher thing, anyway.)

But a funny thing happened on the way to my lobby. (No, not this blog- I said “funny.”) For some reason we have so far (fingers crossed) only gotten one company’s phone book. Last year we had five. And get this- instead of the about 1/4 trillion books we received last year, we got only enough books for less than half of the apartments in the building. I know what you’re thinking- how many people took the phone book this year? Good question. After a week of watching the piles sit there like lumps of dirt- or just like phone books, take your pick- it looks like maybe four were taken. And this is a six-story building.

There was a new twist this year. Along with the phone book we sometimes get a restaurant guide from a phone book company. That one has all the takeout menus we usually find shoved under our door and later toss away in one handy volume so we can toss them all away at the same time. We didn’t get that this year. Instead we got an attorney guide. That one I took.

My main reason for taking it was to see if my lawyer was in there. He was not. But I don’t take that as a warning sign. If it doesn’t bother me that his letterhead has another lawyer’s name scratched out and his penciled in with a purple marker why should this? And besides, the volume is only about 60 pages thin- a mere pamphlet, really- and seems to list the same dozen lawyers over and over. Look up personal injury and you’ll find a huge full-page ad for “Lawyer Company X.” No, that is not their real name. I don’t want to be sued; these are lawyers I’m mocking! Turn to bankruptcy and you’ll find the same ad for “Lawyer Company X” but with “personal injury” changed to “bankruptcy.” Want to make out a will? Same company, same ad. The only thing that is different between them and my lawyer is that mine was too cheap to buy an ad.

So the lawyer book is a waste but it takes up less room and killed less trees so I don’t feel so bad about not recycling it and just tossing it down the garbage chute.

(I reread that sentence, saw I used “so” three times, began it with a conjunction, and it is thisclose to being a run-on. I left it anyway. Sometimes it is the voice that counts more than the content. Especially this content.)

The bottom line of all this mishigas (Google it) is that I fully expect this to be only the opening salvo in my war on sanity- sorry, I mean war on the phone book. One company down, four to go. If the tanking economy means we will only be getting a sensible number of phone books, for that one reason I am grateful that New York is in trouble.

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