Have we reached the end of our shelf life?

I received the following note from Bill Emerson (not pictured here), a former directory publisher who has some great recommendations.

Yellow Pages Recycling

Have we reached the end of our shelf life?

If yes, its been a great run, beginning for me in 1959 working for NW Bell out of Sioux Falls, SD. My first book was Pipestone, MN. It was a dial conversion where the town went from calling Central to 7 numbers. My wife was actually afraid to deposit  my first commission check. She was sure the phone company made a mistake.

Many of  my friend tells me that I sold out my company, Blue Valley Publications, “just in time”.

I wonder though,  when I still receive several books here in Kansas City – two of which are approx 5,000 columns of ads each.

While my day as  a publisher has past, here’s a few suggestions:

1. Take some lessons from Angie’s List and  toot our own horn. People have always used the YP because its the most reliable media.  We should be marketing our credibility as an industry, not each company. This is a rich industry – we should act like it.

2. We should insist that advertisers who only have a cell phone reveal such in all ads and listings – including white pages.  A recent  New Yorker cartoon had two women sitting in a restaurant –  One woman, speaking of a man, said, “He’s very stable – he has a land line.”   Think about that.

3. We should police our ads for false and misleading statements including mis-classifications.

4. We should limit ad sizes so that listings appear on every  page. Everything that needs to be said about a business can be accomplished in a half  page ad. Further, just eliminating the discounts  would retain the revenue.

5. We should make our products as easy to use as possible. We are a directional media. Cover extensions and inserts are not only confusing, they create bulk and make the books harder to use.

6.  No print, even srl’s, should be smaller than #8.

7. We should clean up and edit the data base for every issue.

Everyone will  not agree with the above, but some may have more and better ideas.


Bill Emerson

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