Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Can't We Opt Out of Receiving Phone Books?

Every year I received almost a half dozen phone books, all from different companies but with the same exact information. I can't remember the last time I used one. It's been at least five years. Directory assistance and the internet work better for me. I'm not saying that nobody uses them, and I'm sure they are used heavily by some people. But there are a large number of people who never use them and sadly don't recycle them.

Delivering phone books to every door is a complete waste. So many of them go right into the landfill or recycle bin. Telephone books should be distributed, for free, at local grocery stores or at the post office or other public places. This way people who actually use them could still access them, but the majority of people who don't need one don't get forced to accept them.

I understand why this doesn't happen, however. Phone books make their money by selling advertisements. The number of copies handed out are referred to as the 'reach' of the advertisement. A larger reach allows phone books to sell ads for higher prices. Therefore, by giving out a phone book to every single person they can claim that their ads reach a larger audience, making them more money. They are ripping off people who advertise with them because there are so many millions of phone books that are never even opened.

**image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

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