Phone books may be headed to intensive care unit


A media consultant believes that an old media standby, the telephone book, is a highly endangered species and may be well on its way to extinction. Like a lot of old media, the availability of traditional phone book content on the internet and on mobile are turning the medium into the next dinosaur.

According to a national poll from Ron Sachs Communications/Mason-Dixon, 60% of respondents say the phone book is becoming irrelevant.

“The phone book is on life support and local businesses should expect its death to officially occur some time in the next few years,” said Ron Sachs, President of Ron Sachs Communications. “Americans are finding the Internet and their cell phones as a more convenient and reliable source for phone numbers over the phone book at a staggering rate, and as a result, phone book advertising is nearly akin to advertising over the telegraph.”

According to the poll:

* 3 out of every 4 Americans rely on Internet and cell phones for finding telephone numbers over the phone book.

* Only 3 percent of Americans report they have used the phone book in the last week

* Nearly 8 out of 10 people 18-29 years old have no use for the phone book.

* Nearly one quarter of Americans discard their phone books immediately with one third of Americans under the age of 45 reporting they immediately throw away their phone books when delivered to their door.

* Nearly half of all respondents expect to use their phone book either much less or not at all in 5 years.

RBR-TVBR observation: Ah, yes, the phone book. It lives in broadcast lore as one of the principle training tools in the slapdash, meatball surgery school of sales staff training and lead generation. Local broadcasters may well lose that tool (which should have only been used sparingly anyway!) but they will also lose a once-potent local competitor.

We will add a personal note: We published a directory from 1993 through 2001. The poor little guy did well for awhile, but the fact of the matter was, it was born just as the internet was establishing itself. The ready availability of information on line did not exactly smother our directory in the crib, but it did prevent the book from ever making it to a robust adulthood.

So we second the opinion of this poll based on hard personal experience.