More Phone Directory Foolishness, From Maryland

photo white pages picture street
Photo via Newtown Graffiti, Flickr.

What am I, the phone book blogger? It seems that way. After a ban on Yellow Pages in Seattle and a related industry lawsuit, the latest news on ditching phonebooks comes from Maryland. This time, it's the other way around. The state is preventing phone companies from switching to an opt-in system for white pages. Here's the deal: Verizon applied to stop distributing residential white pages in a dozen states where it offers land-line phone service. Folks who still want paper phone books would be able to chop down a tree call a number to have one delivered. In Maryland, an opt-in ban would annually save more 2,000 tons of paper and associated energy that goes into printing, binding and distributing the books. In the 12 states, that amounts to 17,000 tons of saved paper.

But the Maryland Public Service Commission has denied Verizon's request, because they want proof that customers are using alternatives to paper phone books. What? How about this: A Gallup poll conducted for SuperMedia, the company that prints the books, found that as of 2008 only 11 percent of people used the white pages compared to 25 percent in 2005.

The list of states that have already granted permission to quit printing white pages/residential listings, or have requests pending includes Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Either way, Yellow Pages will continue to litter doorsteps in most U.S. states for the time being. The industry says it's working on a nationwide opt-out system, to be launched in 2011/this year. You can find out more about the white pages saga at

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