Facts you probably didn’t know about the Yellow Pages

Posted by

DeforestationThere are 540 million directories printed in the United States each year. That’s 1.7 directories per person, assuming just over 300 million people living in the US.  There is not one “yellow pages” company, so it’s many companies printing many books.

The average yellow pages book weighs 3.62 pounds.  Multiply that by the 540 million directories printed each year and you get 2 BILLION pounds of paper.  It takes 24 fully developed trees to make a ton of paper.  So you’re looking at 23 million trees each year being cut down to make these books.

yp-stackThe yellow pages industry is a $26 billion annual business, bigger than Google’s $20 billion in revenues for 2008.  The yellow pages are profitable and are not dying anytime soon.  Most publishers have recycling programs, to quell the environmentalists that protest the waste– but almost none have an opt-out program.

Online advertising programs are cutting into offline revenue.  I don’t believe web advertising would ever fully replace print, TV, radio, magazine, and other forms of media– but it will become a growing share over the next 5-10 years.

What say you?


  1. Dennis:

    Your comments about the YP industry are completely false.

    First while the popular myth is that this industry is responsible for the neutering of forests, the reality is the Yellow Pages industry doesn’t knock down any trees for its paper!!! Let me repeat that – they don’t need to cut any trees for their paper supply. Currently, on average, most publishers are using about 40% recycled material (from the newspapers and magazines you are recycling curbside), and the other 60% comes from wood chips and waste products of the lumber industry. If you take a round tree and make square or rectangular lumber from it, you get plenty of chips and other waste. Those by-products make up the other 60% of the raw material needed. Note that these waste products created in lumber milling would normally end up in landfills. For more information go here: http://www.yptalk.com/archive.cfm?ID=390&CatID=3.

    Regarding opt-out, each of the major publishers has had a program running for some time — go here for the site which allows consumers to enter their zipcodes to know which publisher to contact reagrding opt out: http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com

  2. Very interesting post to put things into perspective. I wouldn’t have guessed the yellow pages business is still bigger than Google. I doubt that will last much longer. Especially with the rise of mobile internet use, it is getting easier and easier for people to access info without opening up a book. Good post.

  3. Advertising is in the yellow pages is such a big waste of money. I see piles and piles of these books in Stacked high in Grocery stores. You can’t even give them away.

    There still sold to exisiting customer’s because they still believe in the old traditional advertising methods.

    The big search engines are slowly taking over. The rapid growth in cell phones additionally the expansion of wireless internet will all make the Yellow Book extinct.

    But agree it’ll be 5-10 more years away

    It’ll go away like Encyclopedia Books.

  4. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for commenting.
    By the way, looks like hawthornesearch.com and yptalk.com are both down. You run both sites, right?
    Also, if you’d like to write a guest post on this blog, I’d welcome your opinion.


  5. Interesting Article. Also, great post Ken.

    Until every home (and business) have a computer, until every local service provider has a web site, Yellow Pages will still be useful to the masses. I predict that in 15-20 years, there could be a case to eliminate Yellow Pages.

  6. Interesting facts Dennis, good strong points and then IMO you wussed out at the end. Sure it will take some time, but the hand writing is on the wall for big broadcast media. While the internet in itself is not totally responsible for the demise of broadcast Radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and Yellow Pages… technology in many forms and broad changes in society are. They are all sunset industries and many will disappear before they adapt, if they even can.

    Older generations still have the habit of newspapers, yellow pages, radio even broadcast TV. As they die, what will the younger generations use? I don’t think a kid that has been exposed to commercial free TV is going to put up with broadcast TV… they already never listen to the radio, never read a paper, hardly ever read a magazine (other than specialty), and never use yellow pages. No early use = no habit = no long term future.

    Ken’s interesting take on wood chips was quite comical. Dude, most wood chips are made from trees that are too small to be made into dimensional lumber. They are chipped to be made into paper. Sawdust and wood fines from sawing and planing wood (there are NO chips) is not easily made into commercial paper. YP still eats trees – agreed less than Dennis’ extrapolation.

  7. Hi Denniis
    I am looking for old yellow page books in large quantities.Can you help?..If so please email me.Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *