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http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/03/02/1897525/dex-one-plans-120-million-in-2012.html

Substantial piece on a big phone book publisher which is planning further cost cutting in 2012 (article dated March 2, 2012) after a couple years of layoffs, as they continue to transition to a digital product.

"The bulk of the cost-cutting will stem from what Mockett calls "smart distribution" of print directories. With seven of 10 adults using print directories, that means three of 10 people never open the books, Mockett said. Dex is putting programs in place to make sure that the directories are delivered only to the people who really want them."

Some 2011 coverage from the changeover in many states away from mandatory delivery of white pages:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2011-06-01-phone-books-disappearing_n.htm

Some 2010 coverage about California considering making the switch from mandatory delivery of white pages, notable for this quote:

“Anybody who doesn’t have access to some kind of online way to look things up now is probably too old to be able to read the print in the white pages anyway,” joked Robert Thompson, a pop culture professor at Syracuse University.

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/nov/11/white-pages-books-being-shelved/#ixzz2LCiWlEEO
- vcstar.com

Altho on the whole, I think this is the most interesting paragraph:

"Earlier this year, two Riverside men who were hired to distribute more than 700 new telephone books were arrested after they were found dumping them in a Ventura ravine."

better, even, than these (a true sign that we are nearing the end):

"If the white pages are nearing their end, then Emily Goodmann hopes the directories would be archived for historical, genealogical or sociological purposes.

“The telephone directory stands as the original sort of information network that not only worked as kind of a social network in a sense, but it served as one of the first information resources,” said Goodmann, a doctoral student at Northwestern University who is writing her dissertation on the history of phone books as information technology."

Ah, a PhD thesis on phone books. They can't last long now, can they? Altho I don't think Goodmann is done with the thesis yet:

http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/users/emily-goodmann

You know, I think that's out of date. I think she's working at DePaul now.

ETA:

This one is fantastic:

http://searchengineland.com/are-yellow-pages-toast-four-years-later-we-review-ad-value-116199

A blogger returns to see how his predictions turned out. The phone companies are trying to (or have already) unloaded their directory divisions, which used to be reliable cash cows (amazing chart of profitability) but are now subject to rampant bankruptcy restructuring.

I think the piece of this I find most astounding is how under-the-radar for me it was until R. told me about the pushback on the Seattle ordinance -- and yet here I've been tracking e-books, mail volume decrease, newspapers attempting to transition to paywalls, blah, blah, bleeping, blah and never once, not even for half a second, thought about paper phone books.

ETA still more: Italian Yellow Pages insolvent:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130205/advertising-slump-bankrupts-italys-yellow-pages

That one is recent, from earlier this month. Owes $200 million Euros this year, but, "The telephone directory company, Seat, said in a statement after a board meeting that it could only generate cash flow of around 50 million euros to service its debt and had available liquidity of some 100 million euros." Oooooh. They think they need to restructure the debt. I'm thinking that's a rearranging the deck chairs statement, but what do I know.

If you do a google news search on "yellow pages" (in quotes), some of the things that pop up are yet-again articles about scammers who call small businesses, tell them their ad in the yellow pages is about to expire so just give us your credit card and we'll renew it. Businesses _do_! Sometimes their credit card company catches the charge and stops it. Really, the mind, it boggles.