Stop killing more trees



A pilot project in Auckland has reached the obvious conclusion that paper phone books aren’t really wanted any longer.  If you want one, you need to ask for it.

For the first time, Aucklanders will this year have to request a copy of the White Pages telephone directory.

The decision came after 75 per cent of Aucklanders wanted the chance to “opt in”, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen and commissioned by Yellow.

Every year, about 6.5 million phone books are distributed around New Zealand.

Research from Nielsen in 2010 found only 41 per cent of people aged 15 and over used the White Pages.

The pilot is being run just in Auckland this year, and the company is watching the reaction before deciding whether it will be rolled out nation-wide.

Yellow are basically in charge of their own demise here.  Because the inevitable, that the Yellow Pages becomes opt-in as well, isn’t that far off.

As more and more people have access to computers, iPads, tablets and smart phones, the mere concept of a nationally distributed, compulsory paper directory is becoming absurd.

For Yellow to survive, it needs to for the Yellow Pages be viable.  And in most New Zealand regions, the White and Yellow directories are part of a single volume.

How to opt out of the White Pages when it is stuck to the Yellow ones?

Anyway, I suspect it is one of the very few times you’ll find me and Gareth Hughes on the same side of an issue.

… the Green Party welcomed the opt-in system and said it was great news for the environment and for people who “don’t read, need or want a phone book”.

The Greens’ information and communications technology spokesman, Gareth Hughes, said NZ was one of the few countries where it is compulsory to deliver phone books to households that don’t even want them.

“Moving to a more sensible option for the White Pages is a great start but the same choice should also be extended for the Yellow Pages commercial directory. Making phone book delivery optional is a smart decision,” he said.

Yellow is under contract to provide White Pages directories to New Zealand homes under the Telecommunications Service Obligation, a historic agreement between Telecom and the Crown.

I’m sure there are nice requirements for paper directories, such as motels, phone boxes and old people that still have an analog television (won’t they get a shock soon?).  But for the rest of us, paper directories should be something that’s on the way out.


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  • disqus_Hzn8Pa0F8b

    Even online whitepages is only marginally functional. I searched for the surname Albery one time, and autocorrect insisted I wanted Albert, cos it knew better. You cant override auto correct. When it stops being such a fucked search engine I may consider using it.

    • Steve

      I was ready to call BS on this one. But then I went to the whitepages site and tried it. You’re right. You really can’t override the autocorrect. Who on earth would have autocorrect on names to begin with let alone refuse to let you correct them? And a phone directory company at that. Amazing. Truly amazing.

  • Cadwallader

    Good idea. It occurred to me a few years ago that fresh white pages were an annual publication only to pump up advertising in the Yellow Pages.

  • Tony V

    I got mine today without being asked. Going out in the next recycling. Complete waste, agree you should be able to opt in.

  • peterwn


    The French developed a computer terminal type network to replace phone books and it lasted 30 years until superseded by the internet last year. It was basically a dial-up system.

    The ‘White Pages’ (including the internet version) is losing significance because fewer people are relying on landline phones and those with cell phones only need to pay for an entry. Yellow (the directory company) if it is to survive needs to reach out to those with cell phones only – people however may be reluctant to have their numbers and addresses listed anyway, let alone pay for it.

  • Paul Lawrence

    As long as their fees also reduce accordingly for those of us that advertise in both!!

  • cows4me

    Our white pages have gone modern, one page would fit on a postage stamp with numbers and addresses to match, next year we are expecting microdots on film.

  • LabTested

    Yellow was sold (by Telecom) to overseas investors in 2007 for $2.2 billion. It is now a dog. Many years ago it was a state asset. Very glad that it no longer is

  • Jman

    I got mine dumped by my post box yesterday. It went straight into the bin