The White Pages Are Almost History, Or: 5 Things To Do With Your Last Phone Book


When was the last time you used a phone book? The paper one. Yeah, me neither.

The New York Times is reporting today that Verizon has “asked regulators on Friday to allow it to end the annual delivery of millions of White Pages to all of its customers in New York,” saving 5,000 tons of paper in the process.

Only about one of every nine households uses the hard-copy listings anymore, according to Verizon, which cited a 2008 Gallup survey.

Apparently all of the information is online?

“We end up throwing them away,” one Manhattan concierge at a giant apartment building told the paper. But that sounds wasteful. Until they really do stop crowding your stoop (or doorman, if you’re rich) with these things, here are five ways to make them useful:

First, though, please note that this is an A1 story. And it is quite extensive! Fascinating, honestly. This is the best part (emphasis mine):

Customers who prefer to look up phone numbers the old-fashioned way or, like Steve Martin’s character in “The Jerk,” get a thrill from seeing their names in print, would still be able to have the White Pages delivered to them in book form or on compact disc.

Compact disc! Anyway, use yours thusly…

1. Dress it up like Infinite Jest

Spend an afternoon doing some arts & crafts. Design a new cover for the David Foster Wallace classic you never read, throw your real un-cracked open copy under the bed and throw this thousand-plus page bad boy on the shelf. Use good tape to secure the cover. Whenever a potential sexual partner is in your apartment examining your bookshelf just tell them it’s a first edition, or better yet, a galley. Don’t let them pick it up.

2. Practice for the World’s Strongest Man competition

This will keep you busy

3. Cut out the center and use it to hide your illicit belongings

i.e., drugs. In case you still live with your parents. When they ask about it, tell them it’s for looking up numbers to prank phone call. “Kids!” they’ll think.

4. Scan it for pen-name inspiration

Even if you change your mind every few days for the next 25 years, you’ll still have more options. Skip the foreign-sounding ones, though.

5. Rentboys!

Or is that the Yellow Pages? Still: no Internet history.