Why is Maryland still requiring Phone Books to be delivered?

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courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

If you’ve not yet seen the great 70s comedy The Jerk with Steve Martin, perhaps this snippet should inspire you?  This moment, where Navin Johnson notes that because he’s in the phone book, something good will happen to him now, is the height of irony, even in 1979.  Here it is, thirty years later, and we’re still delivering these beasties to every door.

Less than 11% of people used phone books for their intended purpose in 2008, and though many creative uses exist for these beasts from kindling for the fireplace to bulletproofing your Subaru, wouldn’t it just be better for the environment if these beasts were never printed?  Well, perhaps.  Generally speaking I’m not in love with the idea that Verizon should ever have to stop an obligation, but it seems like this might be a good idea whose time has passed.

What they’re proposing to the Maryland Public Service Commission, though, is an opt-in program where you can ask for a phone book instead of just having them dropped off on your porch (where, in my case, they have remained since they were dropped off).  The PSC has asked for proof that people aren’t using them anymore, and I think that’s a fair request. We’ll see what Verizon can come up with in terms of proof besides the obvious, “Um, have you heard of Google?”

Verizon is also intending to petition the District’s PSC in the not distant future.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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8 thoughts on “Why is Maryland still requiring Phone Books to be delivered?

  1. Wow, I didn’t realize that it was the state requiring these things to be dropped off…I always figured it was a lucrative marketing arm of Verizon. In any case, it’s an idea whose time is long overdue.

    Next step is eleminating all of the junk mail that comes via the USPS. Though from what I understand that really IS a lucrative business for the Postal Service, which given the fact that they’re losing so much money…I doubt that’s stopping any time soon.

  2. @Greg: if you ever read a Sarah Palin book you might actually learn something, but if you don’t understand Borders, maybe that’s a bit of stretch for you then

  3. Verizon shouldn’t be obligated to publish listings anymore than Comcast, Skype, Vonage, wireless companies, etc. are.

    Yellow Pages (businesses and ads) were the money makers. White Pages are the regulatory requirement and are unused.