Yellow Pages Opt-Out Proposal

ypIn Cambridge MA:

City Councilor Sam Seidel wants to save the world — one phone book at a time.

This week, Seidel introduced a proposal that would allow citizens to opt out of receiving the Yellow Pages phone books delivered to their doorsteps.

“We don’t use Yellow Pages anymore. Most people use the Internet to look up a phone number,” said Seidel.

Seidel said an environmentally friendly constituent was concerned about all the paper wasted to print the books and approached him with the idea.

Although the City Council unanimously passed the proposal, the scheme is still in its preliminary stages, and it’s unclear how the city would enforce such a measure.

Seidel said he envisions the program would be similar to the National Do Not Call registry, which allows people to remove their phone numbers from telemarketers’ call lists.

This is the first real manifestation of a rumor I heard previously that this movement was afoot. If I were a lawyer arguing the case for print yellow pages before a jury, I would argue the following:

  • Print yellow pages are still widely used, citing data (Yellow Book does in the article cited above)
  • Limiting or eliminating print distribution might negatively impact older people who, notwithstanding the opt-out, rely more heavily on print YP than younger users.


Related: Here’s another effort in Boston that may have a negative impact on YP distribution if successful.


8 Responses to “Yellow Pages Opt-Out Proposal”

  1. Alex Algard Says:

    This is a great measure for the environment, and hopefully it will serve as a good example for other cities that have a tech-savvy residents. The amount of paper waste in this country is enormous. For example, consider this chart, published in the New York Times a few weeks ago, where the US ranks first in paper consumption per capita:

    Alex Algard

  2. joe Says:

    Yes, but I don’t use it and I’m not old so why shouldn’t I have the privilege to opt-out? (Permission based should mean exactly that: they call me to ask if they “may” please deliver. In fact, if it does have such indispensable value, users should be willing to pay for it; they do newspapers, a combination of sub/ad sponsored) I’m increasingly fed-up with the YP directories–indy and incumbent–and weekly “newspapers” that litter my lawn. I have a large property and it seems they dump their quota on my front, back, side etc. door-step. And by the way, I read more newspapers, more thoroughly now than I ever have done in the past, when my only option was print. I’m a much higher value ad target to boot. Eventually, traditional print YP will figure this out for themselves.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    There are people pushing for this outcome that you suggest. I was taking the industry’s POV. People today are effectively “opting out” when they immediately recycle. The issue, for some, is about saving the paper in the first place.

  4. » Old Timer: Remember When We Looked Up Phone Numbers in a BOOK?! Says:

    […] the new Yellow Pages opt-out proposal? A genius idea, considering more and more people are going green as well as using them less and […]

  5. Denver Web Design Says:

    Sounds like a good idea. At least let the people who don’t bother with the YP save the paper that’s being used to print those massive books

  6. waytoohigh Says:

    Opt out is smart and nationwide there is growing interest in more modern solutions to directory searches. We have lots of daily updates on the new Yellow Page Blog from our Ecommerce and retail prospective as a 17-year multi-book YP advertiser:

    We are trying to get comments from the Yellow Page trade association and several of the YP directory companies to have balance, but no takers yet.

  7. YP ‘Opt Out’ Propsal Passes Local City Council « Screenwerk Says:

    […] ‘Opt Out’ Propsal Passes Local City Council Here’s my first post with some background: [Cambridge] City Councilor Sam Seidel wants to save the world — one phone book at a […]

  8. Philw Says:

    There is a new site that launched recently that you can go to, to register to Opt Out of the delivery of the Yellow Pages: It is the Yellow Pages do not deliver registry.

    One of the biggest differences with the site, is that it targets directories based upon your address, and you can select which ones you want to receive or not.

    You do have to sign up, wait for a confirmation email, and then click on that to make your selections, but it is all worth it.

    Do people still use the Yellow Pages? Yes. Are their people out there that no longer wish to receive them? That is a big Yes! Why not give the consumers the choice, instead of just assuming that they want stacks of directories delivered every year.

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