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Canada's Largest Cities Seeing the End of the Phone Book 206

Posted by timothy
from the straight-to-the-pulping-machine dept.
innocent_white_lamb writes "Telephone directories are available on the Internet, and many phones even store their own directories. There is less and less demand for a printed phone book, so residential phone books will no longer be printed and delivered in Canada's seven largest cities. Do we now expect everyone's grandma to look up phone numbers on the Internet? Of course, the Yellow Pages, where businesses pay for a listing, will still be delivered."
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Canada's Largest Cities Seeing the End of the Phone Book

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  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday June 07, 2010 @02:10AM (#32481040)

    Why get rid of it completely? It doesn't need to be a "every year or never again" type of thing. Why not say you'll put out one new one every other year for a few years, then one new one every 5 years for a while?

    • by Rix (54095) on Monday June 07, 2010 @02:28AM (#32481122)

      What they're doing now still lets grandma get one every year, she just has to ask for it. They're just not delivering on directly to everyone else's recycling box anymore.

      • by drago (1334) on Monday June 07, 2010 @03:24AM (#32481376)

        They're doing a similar kind of thing here in Germany for some years already, you only get a postcard telling you there's a new phonebook and yellowpages available and where to get it. If you want one, you can collect any number you need at the next post office, certain gas stations and in bigger cities at the central railroad station.

        • by RichiH (749257)

          The nice thing is that they put recycling bins right next to the new phone books. That way, you can get rid of the large-format books easily, as well.

    • I've been complaining to them about this by email - I don't want your stupid phone book, or your yellow pages!!!

      They go into the recycling bin, unopen.

      Why should my municipality have to pay to recycle that crap?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nospam007 (722110) *

        5 million trees are used to print the US phone book, the stuff costs a fortune and it has to go the way of the newspapers and dodos.

        http://www.banthephonebook.org/ [banthephonebook.org]

        • by tomhudson (43916)

          Add to the trees the additional transportation and delivery costs - those suckers are heavy!

          There are people who have phoned the teleco and told them to come pick up their litter - and made them do it! Littering (and just dumping an unsolicited phone book on the door stoop IS littering) can get them a fine.

    • It is 2010. Is Canada delivering phone books to cell phone users? I have not had a land line since 2000, despite running two separate businesses. And I don't advertise, except for word of mouth or sometimes when I strike up conversations with folks in a line.
      • Plus my kids don't have celphones, many calls are for either myself OR my wife, whomever is there to answer. We have four wireless phone handsets around our home but only one celphone each. I really don't get how celphones only are supposed to work for a home with a family.
      • by gmack (197796)

        It has nothing to do with whether you have a phone or not. When I lived in an apartment in Montreal they would drop one phone book per apartment on the floor next to the mailboxes where they would sit for months.

        And they weren't counting land lines.. I got one when I had no phone line at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JamesP (688957)

      Well maybe if they reduce the font size they don't need to waste that much paper

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Or better yet, why not simply make them "free upon request", that way folks that actually need a phone book could easily get one, while those of us that don't wouldn't get them? I'm moving into a new apartment (Lord help me do I hate moving!) and was throwing out anything I wasn't using or needing anymore to make a clean break. I swear I must have thrown away a half a dozen county phone books, every one of them still in the wrapper. I sat the last two years worth in the common area where folks set items lik

    • by dimeglio (456244)

      Not sure if TFA mentions this but you can still request a printed copy of the phone book. It simply will not be automatically distributed. This change only affects larger metropolitan areas where the phone book is printed separately from the yellow pages. Smaller communities have yellow pages and white pages in the same book.

  • Misleading summary. (Score:5, Informative)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Monday June 07, 2010 @02:15AM (#32481062)
    From TFA...

    Yellow Pages Group Co. said last week that it would no longer deliver residential phone books in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montreal and Quebec City, except to customers who request them.

    • by Kitkoan (1719118)

      From TFA...

      Yellow Pages Group Co. said last week that it would no longer deliver residential phone books in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montreal and Quebec City, except to customers who request them.

      Good luck with that though... big companies like this often outsource their call centers to places like India that use internet sites to locate you. And I've had issues with that and them just finding the completely wrong address (not to mention I now live on a really small street that just doesn't exist on a map...). Called Telus once to have my internet transfered to a new place and they said they'd send someone which they did... to an address a few blocks away... when I called up to complain about my int

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Some will instantly start yammering how it is "environmentalists" fault too.

      Businesses are cutting delivery of everything that costs them money. Be it bank statements, or phone books. A phone book takes a few dollars to print and deliver. Why deliver phone books when that costs you 5% of your yearly profit from that customer?

      Business directory will still be delivered because that's its *revenue model*. Businesses *pay* to be listed in these books. If they are not delivered to customers, then why would busin

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tomhudson (43916)

        Business directory will still be delivered because that's its *revenue model*. Businesses *pay* to be listed in these books. If they are not delivered to customers, then why would businesses pay to be included in them?

        Not for long! i emailed them last year and told them that if they EVER deliver another yellow pages to my door, to contact the biggest advertisers and tell them why the Yellow Pages are useless, and why I won't be buying from them. Then I'll bug everyone I know to do the same. Maybe we'll

        • The only thing I find the Yellow Pages good for anymore is pizza. When you're doing some late night hacking at the office, it's super easy to flip to the pizza section, find the information there with menus, prices, and delivery hours then call up the one you like. Yeah, I'm sure I could do that by using Google Maps and search nearby for pizza then scan the listings to find each individual website (if they have one) and locate the menu and so on, but what a hassle.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          My dad doesn't have a computer and doesn't want one, and I know people not much past middle age who won't have enything to do with a computer.

          • by Dishevel (1105119) *
            Then tell them to call up and have the fucking book delivered. Or would that knowledge be gleaned from having skimmed TFS?
            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              The reply was to people who say "nobody needs a phone book and everybody has a computer".

            • by NFN_NLN (633283)

              Then tell them to call up and have the fucking book delivered. Or would that knowledge be gleaned from having skimmed TFS?

              It's a paradox. Without a phone book he won't know who to dial to get a new phone book. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      Same as here in Sweden.

      • by ggeens (53767)

        Belgium has an opt-out system. You can register on the site and then you won't receive any phone books anymore. (I just filled out the form, thanks to this article.)

        I can't remember when I last used a full phone book: they're too large to find anything.

        There is also a local business guide for each town. That one is small enough to be used, and it's useful whenever you need any service in your neighborhood (say, a plumber).

    • by rikkards (98006)

      Yeah and that is 8 cities not 7. Ottawa and Gatineau are separate since they are in two provinces. They may as well have said National Capital Region.

  • This might be an interesting concept but what about the follow through? It mentions about online directories which might be fine and great for major cities but they are horrible for small towns (like the one I live in). I find it really hard if possible to find many of the local businesses from online information mainly because 1) I'm in a small town and so I'm guessing I don't count as a big enough market and 2) Small businesses are just that, small and often don't bother having an online presence. Now if
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      But directory will be exactly the same, just not in paper form.

      • It's not though.

        I have seen some weird regional hybrid books with "selected" numbers. I can live with four complete phonebooks. Those "Selected" thingies are distracting.

        But weren't the Telcos whining about 5 years ago "it's copyrighted"?

        I'd LIKE a list in a parseable(sp?) format.

        • The Portuguese "pages" don't offer an API, but they use Javascript as a templating language, so if you check the html, there's a nice JSON list with the results, all with nice tags.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Reziac (43301) *

      Not only that, but increasingly you get crap results on the order of "FIND FIVE STAR HOTELS IN PODUNKVILLE" (population 12) -- the latest form of linkfarm, it seems.

      I'd seen so much of this crap that I actually did not believe it when a motel listing came up for a town with a current population of (count them) 7 people... turns out for once it's real.

      As to the "store locators" on chains' sites, about half the time they won't even speak to you if you ask for listings outside your immediate zipcode. Just gimm

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Yahoo don't work there? Because I live in what I would consider a pretty dang small town (less than 15k, and half of that college kids that are only here for the semester) and I type in "name of city, state pizza" and get every single restaurant that serves pizza in town, including 3 I never heard of (they sound good and got 4 stars though, I'll have to call one later) so maybe you're just using the wrong search?

      If you are here in the states (I don't know if it works for other countries) try Yahoo Local [yahoo.com].

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I keep my phone book in my car where it's actually useful.

  • by bain_online (580036) on Monday June 07, 2010 @02:18AM (#32481078) Homepage Journal
    I over heard in the local telecom office here in Pune, India there will be no more printed directory here either. The last one we got is three years old.
    BTW the directories in Indian cities were distributed only by the Monopoly telecom BSNL and its Big cities cousin MTNL. With rise of private players in wired as well as the exploded mobile segment in India, the directories were not much of the use anyway. This just puts the death nail in them.
  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Monday June 07, 2010 @02:19AM (#32481080) Homepage Journal

    At my last rent house local telco's were in competition with each other to have the "defacto" phone book. When stacked together the phone books I got in a 1 year period were 2 ft tall. The phone companies kept trying to 1 up each other. I never actually used one of them - except one of them had a nice local map tucked in the front. I pulled it out, circled where I lived for someone who was going to visit later and handed it over.

    Why should I have to pay for trash pickup if they do free trash delivery?

    • I have "naked DSL" with no dialtone at my house, so of course I get:
      1. The telephone company's official phone book (which isn't actually produced by the telephone company, and hasn't been for years, and is so full of errors that the telephone company is forced to send a letter-to-the-editor of the local paper explaining that it's not their fault)
      2. The paperback-sized one that's just for my side of the county, also from the telephone company.
      3. Some unofficial book from some other publisher
      4. Another copy o

      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        I tried to get "naked DSL" there. Verizon claimed repeatedly I wasn't in a DSL coverage area, despite my land lady having access at that house before she moved out. I finally ordered a phone line, then about a month later asked for DSL. What do you know! I was in a DSL area! Of course every time it rained the DSL went up and down for about a day - then Hurricane Ike hit. That was the end of that.

  • Grandma's Future (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tauto (1742564)
    "Do we now expect everyone's grandma to look up phone numbers on the Internet? " Actually, yes. It goes something like this: Grandma calls her favorite grandson; Grandma: Hey Dick, this is your grandma. Can you look up a number for me? Grandson: Sure, Grandma. What d'ya need? Oh, by the way, I can also bring you my old computer. That way you not only save a tree, but help me recycle my old hardware. Can you see where we're going yet?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      Get Grandma an iPad with a white pages app. That way she'll thank you for not being a cheap fuck trying to pawn off your 3rd rate, 10 year old massive desktop computer with a 50 ton CRT she can't hope to move without a crane on her while indoctrinating her in the ways of Linux as if she cared or understood and she might actually leave you in her will.

    • by thoughtspace (1444717) on Monday June 07, 2010 @03:25AM (#32481378)

      And Grandma will correctly reply:
      "Why do I have to wait 1 minute for this thing to start to get one phone number?"
      "Why are you still here hours later setting this up?"
      "WTF is all this other stuff"
      "How long do I have to wait for the internet thing to be connected to my house?"
      "Why couldn't you just solve the problem and look up the number in the first place?"
      "F%$k off Dick, I'll just call Aunt June to get the number."

      • by couchslug (175151)

        She could also call the operator for information, which predated print phone books.

        This avoids diggin' under the pile of Depends for the phone book. (I'm old, so I can crack on old fuckers. They'll get over it.)

    • My grandparents are all dead. So what now?
    • "Hi Dick, it's your Grandma. Cann you look up a number for me? Yes I know you gave me that computer-ma-jig to do it for me, but that's the problem you see. It broke and I need the number for a repair man"
  • But the first thing I do when I need to email someone is dust off and flip open the big ten pound thousand page tissue-paper thin book and start flipping!
    • by shaitand (626655)

      Agreed those city sized directories make no sense. In small towns of 50k pop or less there is still a use for phone books.

  • I am currently using mine to support my futon, the middle leg snapped, and the support bar is bent so this book sits below to prevent the bar from bending further.
  • I only see the "phonebook" sized directories used to prop open doors or as monitor stands.

    OTOH the "paperback" sized directories are useful for carrying in cars or keeping on a handy shelf.

  • by PatPending (953482) on Monday June 07, 2010 @02:36AM (#32481174)

    Dang. I'm gonna miss this annual event:

    Navin R. Johnson: The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!

    Harry Hartounian: Boy, I wish I could get that excited about nothing.

    Navin R. Johnson: Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 - Johnson, Navin R.! I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.

    [the Sniper points to Navin's name in the phone book]

    Sniper: Johnson, Navin R... sounds like a typical bastard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Navin R. Johnson: Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 - Johnson, Navin R.! I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.

      Of course, just see how things picked up for all the people with "Connor, J." in the book.

  • A state legislator introduced a bill to require telcos to change "receives a phone book" from "yes" to "must request it". By the time it came up for a vote, some of those who'd previously supported the bill now were against it--even one of the bill's authors. Yellow Pages advertising is big business here in the US. Regional telcos are grabbing at anything they can to "monetize" and the ad revenue in phone books was a cash cow. I get a "real" phone book published by the telco and one that's purely ad dri
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Monday June 07, 2010 @04:41AM (#32481612)

    Do we now expect everyone's grandma to look up phone numbers on the Internet?

    Of course not, they expect them to call 411 and find out the number for $1.45 per request, rather than look it up in the phone book for free. It's what the pointy-haired phone company execs would call "monetizing informational resources". Yeah, there are free 411 services like Google's but many people don't even realize these services exist.

    • Wow, what a quandary. Let's see. I'm the guy in charge of the company that's going to print a Yellow Pages and send it to every house. I've decided to no longer send a White Pages to every house, but I want people to be able to contact me to ask for one.

      What to do?

      Um... I could... maybe print the number on the front of the Yellow Pages?

      Just a thought.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do we now expect everyone's grandma to look up phone numbers on the Internet?

      Of course not, they expect them to call 411 and find out the number for $1.45 per request, rather than look it up in the phone book for free. It's what the pointy-haired phone company execs would call "monetizing informational resources". Yeah, there are free 411 services like Google's but many people don't even realize these services exist.

      But, of course, to make up for that, the phone companies will now pass the savings from eliminating the phone book on to the customer through lowered rates!

      I mean, if they were introducing a phone book, they'd pass the cost on to us. Obviously they're going to pass the savings on to us as well. Right?

  • Since I usually use the back door, and the front door is for taking out the trash, the last Yellow Pages I got never made it out of its plastic.

    By all means, print a few white pages and give grandma the comfort on request but I've been wondering about this for years.

  • Or the internet. She has her own personal phone book of handwritten names, addresses, and phone numbers. It also has all kinds of additional data that isn't in the white pages like birthdays and anniversaries. She updates it whenever someone moves, and she knows which people in that phone book know other numbers so if she needs a new number for someone she can get it easily.
  • For a long time I've been wondering "why do we need phone books?". Other than occasionally looking up the number of a business in the Yellow Pages, I have never used the phone book to find somebody's phone number (and I'm probably a lot older than the average Slashdot reader). I already know the phone numbers of my friends and relatives, so why do I need the numbers of a hundred thousand strangers? Then there's people with unlisted phone numbers and cell phones, none of which are listed in any phone book.

  • This is a very good step!! Phonebooks are useless already because they don't contain cellphone numbers. Not that I would suggest that those should be included.

    And grandma anyway can't find her reading glasses.... :-)

  • This would be fine and all, except there's no real online equivalent. Canada411.com is supposed to be the same thing, but it's got nowhere near the same listings as the printed phone book does.

    So in this case, it's not really just a change in how it's delivered. It's degradation of the quality of the available information.

    Until they fix that, I'll need to keep requesting the dead tree version. (Not to mention that version also works during a blackout when I need to call the power company and tell them there

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