Nick Aster asks if "the yellow pages madness will ever stop?" But he also has a potential solution:
Since opt out programs clearly don’t work (I dutifully tried this last year), yellow pages should be required to stop all deliveries. In return, a nice card should be mailed to everyone in a given area explaining that tomes of paper would not be sent any more, but that the website, YellowPages.com, would be available for most any need. In fact, YellowPages.com is actually pretty useful – if they could just figure out how to grow their audience (I hear Yelp.com is available for cheap).
Consumers who still wanted a directory would simply return a postage-paid card to voluntarily opt in for future deliveries. They could even increase conversions by offering a free local coupon book or something like that. They could even ask basic demographic questions to know their audience much better than ever before!
And the real winning element to my idea? Yellow pages would need to print far fewer directories for much lower cost. Not only that but they could radically increase the rates they charge advertisers knowing that they’re now going to happy and willing customers whose demographics are better understood.
Trees saved, nerves saved, costs saved, labor saved, more money for everyone… what’s the problem?
UPDATE: After reading some comments and reactions to this post, I think it is worth mentioning that these books do have some value. I don't mean to suggest there is no value in creating a semi-comprehensive guide to local businesses that isn't simply located online or in the cloud. There are always going to be moments when we can't just tap into our smart phones for numbers and certain situations demand an extra bit of urgency - lawyers, bail bondsmen, plumbers, tow trucks, etc. And many businesses -- especially every gas station, roadside diner, hotel and jailhouse lobby -- should keep one on-hand. So despite the silly headline, I should say I don't really think these books should go away completely. But I do agree with Nick that they should be opt-in rather than opt-out. You only have to see a couple piles of the books sitting on stoops and apartment building lobbies to come to that conclusion.