Sunday, April 21, 2024

Unused phone books stack up in an apartment building foyer. Policy changes by phone book publishers could avoid the problem. (Photo: Lars Plougmann)

Yellow Pages publishers are publicizing a website to stop phone book delivery and promising to pick up unused directors from Cambridge public housing, signs they’re embracing responsibilities and limits being put on them by online search and wired communities such as Cambridge.

But the most telling sign is that this news comes from the publishers with pride, as selling points in a Monday press release and accompanying letter from trade groups the Local Search Association and the Association of Directory Publishers.

The efforts kick in with the fall delivery of SuperPages and Yellowbook, according to the companies. “The associations recommend that Cambridge residents who do not wish to get one or both of the directories should opt out now, to ensure time for the request to process,” said David Fishman, speaking on  behalf of the Local Search Association. The pickup of unwanted copies applies only to public housing.

The trade groups cite research that more than 70 percent of adults still use the printed directories, but that looks less likely every time a bundle is dropped off at an apartment buildings and remains sitting for weeks out front or in a foyer or hallway — a common sight in the city, and obviously in San Francisco as well, where officials began working in spring to keep directories away unless they were requested.

City councillor Marjorie Decker cited San Francisco’s example in filing a May 23 policy order about the directories, and she gets credit from the associations for bringing on a change in their policies. But Neg Norton, president of the Local Search Association, said is already supported by directory publishers across the country and termed this year’s rollout a “relaunch.”

It “illustrates our ongoing commitment to not delivering a directory to someone who would prefer not to receive one,” Norton said.

The website lets residents choose which phone book they want or to opt out completely. Resident information is private and won’t be sold to other companies, Fishman said.

Cambridge residents can also opt out of phone book delivery by calling the publisher of SuperPages at (800) 888-8448 and Yellowbook at (877) 607-0775.

This post was written from a press release.