Fewer Phone Books Expected on New Jersey Doorsteps in 2017
You may just use it as a step-stool anyway, but it's likely fewer New Jersey residents will receive a phone book in 2017.
Residential listings have essentially disappeared from New Jersey doorsteps over the past few years, but business directories have remained an annual delivery. However, consumers' greater dependence on digital listings has eaten away at the number of people who regularly use phone books, or even want them.
Dex Media, the official publisher of phone books for Verizon and CenturyLink in New Jersey, recently gained approval from the state Board of Public Utilities to shift from saturation delivery - meaning every customer gets a book - to a more targeted distribution model.
"If the research shows that 4 in 10 use (phone books), but we're required to deliver to 10 of 10, that doesn't really make sense anymore," said Mike Konidaris, director of telephone company relations and printing for Dex Media, based in Texas. "It's still a valuable product, both for the consumer and for local businesses that choose to advertise in it ... but we know that not everybody uses it anymore, and we're adjusting our distribution to account for that."
Konidaris said the company's model looks at several factors, such as demographics, to determine where phone books would be delivered. As an example, Konidaris said someone living in a single-family home is more likely than someone in an apartment building to use a phone book.
Some markets may not be affected at all, he said.
In 2010, Verizon was given the green light to no longer include residential listings in the phone book.
According to Steven Miller, coordinator of undergraduate studies for Rutgers University's department of journalism and media studies, phone books have met the same fate as other print services as consumers became more inclined to use a computer or mobile phone to find a phone number.
"Every once in a while I will use our phone book, but it's behind the plastic bags that we use for our lunches," Miller said. "I think, probably within the next 10 years or so, those will go the way of dial phones."
Miller said consumers would have more use for phone books if they listed individual's cell phone numbers.
Konidaris said phone books are distributed at different times of the year, depending on the market. Residents who don't receive a directory can request one for free by calling 800-888-8448, or they can view an online version at dexpages.com.
More from WPG Talk Radio 104.1: