Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why is It Phone Books Suck So Much Nowadays?

When I was a kid in the '70s, phone books were easy. You had your white pages for people, your yellow pages for business, a listing for emergency numbers at the beginning of the book, and usually a simple map of your town or city in the middle of the book. You got one phone book a year, usually in February.

Now, things have changed.

I get about 10 phone books a year. I get a new one at least once every couple of months. Sometimes I'll get 3 or 4 at the same time, all by different companies.

I don't need that many phone books. No one needs that many phone books.

And the quality of the books has gotten worse. They're much less helpful than they used to be. The white pages are filled with all kinds of garbage. The yellow pages are broken up into sections that don't make any sense. And the listings are never complete. I can never seem to find a restaurant or other business that I know exists. My wife's words to me the other day were, "Just go look on the Internet. It's faster and more accurate." Isn't that the truth?

The beginning of the phone books usually still have that list of emergency numbers, but that list has grown to include every single, possible emergency situation there is. Whatever happened to just dialing 9-1-1? Do I really need an emergency listing for dropping geraniums? Or athlete's foot? (Okay, I admit I'm stretching the truth, but not by much).

The restaurant listings are also just awful. Most phone books will have section for menus, but the section isn't very helpful. For one thing, it seems like every restaurant in town has their menu listed except for any place I want to eat. For another, the menus are planted right in the middle of the yellow pages (often not anywhere near the restaurant listings), and just adds to the confusion.

You have special pages for attorneys. But it, too, is nowhere near the attorney listings, just plopped in. Then you have your special pages for air and heating. And florists. And horse farms (at least in my area). And again, as always, none of these special sections is near where it should be.

None of it makes sense. None of it is helpful to the customer.

So, to the companies who put out these monstrosities, I suggest you just stop it. I realize the only reason you're publishing and distributing these awful publications is because of the advertising dollars. It's obvious you really could care less about customers or potential customers.

To the advertisers, I suggest you save your money. As bad as phone books are nowadays, they're practically useless. Which means fewer and fewer people will use the phone book. Which means you're wasting your money.

If the old, useful phone books aren't going to make a comeback, I say it's time to kill these things off.

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